To kick off each dynasty profile from the 2022 skill position draft class, a dated positional ranking will be presented, relevant to that prospect’s position. As profiles are published, the rankings will evolve. The number of RBs that are either declared underclassmen or seniors exhausting their eligibility – at least the ones that have publicly declared their intention to pursue a career in the NFL – currently stands at 90. And that is far from an exhaustive number with news difficult to attain on some of the many players from the FBS, FCS, Division II, etc.
Without further delay, here are the top-15 RB rankings from the ‘22 class as of publication:
|Kenneth Walker III
|Pierre Strong Jr.
|South Dakota State
|Brian Robinson Jr.
This is a RB class that will become a very important component of the NFL for the next decade. We have two potential late first-rounders in Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker III and we also have two others that could land in the early-to-mid second round: Isaiah Spiller and Rachaad White. The third and fourth rounds will be littered with the outstanding depth that ultimately resulted in the overspilling of talent that we see due to the COVID pandemic. A large number of players chose to return to school due either to the option of taking on “super-senior” status or the opportunity to showcase their skills over a full ‘22 schedule. The result is one of the deepest RB classes in NFL history.
|NFL Combine Measurement Percentiles (Last 10 Seasons)
The sheer determinism at the heart of becoming an elite RB at the NCAA and/or NFL level very nearly precludes a drive to handle the ball on as many plays as possible. When backs of Breece Hall’s caliber matriculate to the NFL with limited tire mileage, teams can thank that prospect's previous coaching brass for managing their' touch rates. In Hall’s case, the head honchos for Wichita Northwest High School (Steve Martin) and Iowa State (Matt Campbell) chose to feed their star RB with as many carries as he could handle.
All told, over his last five seasons of football, Hall touched the ball 1,251 times — an average of 250.2 touches/season. Should we be concerned with that usage limiting the potential longevity of his career? On the one hand, Hall has managed to avoid significant injury dating back to the beginning of his high school football career. On the other, the human body is only… well, human. And the decision for a RB to call it quits is, for the vast majority of careers, ultimately placed into the hands of NFL teams.
Let’s take a look at the RBs that have assembled the most rushing attempts during their NFL careers alongside those from Hall during his last five seasons:
*Junior and senior seasons at Wichita Northwest High and three seasons at Iowa State University
The backs with the top-10 most carries during their careers compiled 133 seasons of football and 34,495 attempts. That’s a combined average of 259.4 rushing attempts/season – 12.3% more than Hall’s average. Aside from Adrian Peterson, we need to look all of the way down to LeSean McCoy (26th-most) and Clinton Portis (32nd) to find RBs on the all-time career carry list to find those suffering from major injuries during their careers. The perceived longevity of a RBs career may be on the decline, but history informs us that an individual’s durability formula is heavily factored from the ability to avoid major injury.
Hall is the cousin of former 49ers’ great Roger Craig. Over Craig’s NFL career, he helped San Francisco capture three Super Bowls, was the first RB to ever collect 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season (1985) and earned NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors in 1988 after leading the league with 2,036 total yards. Jeff Smith, Hall’s stepfather, played RB for Nebraska and was drafted in the 10th round by Kansas City in ‘85. Between the Chiefs and Buccaneers, Smith played four seasons in the NFL and his career was defined by scoring two TDs in the 1984 Orange Bowl against Miami (FL) — considered one of the greatest games in college football history — and collecting 1,270 all-purpose yards for Tampa Bay in 1986.
One of the most startling results from recently attending the 2022 NFL Combine in Indianapolis was the decision by all RBs in attendance to skip the pro shuttle and 3-cone drills. Whether or not those tests are viewed as important in evaluating a RB’s NFL potential is irrelevant. Both drills are inarguably important in providing a baseline for our draft analysis. Since the majority of RBs annually pass on the 225-pound bench press, we are forced to evaluate the ‘22 RB class using three events. It’s particularly disappointing to see the RBs pass on providing 3-cone times. It’s a drill that highlights a RBs ability to diagnose, come to a stop and explode – what is referred to as change-of-direction. Fingers crossed that we can fill in those blanks during each RBs subsequent Pro Day performances.
Below, you will find the percentile comparisons for Hall compared to RBs at the combine over the last 10 seasons and from individual ‘21 Pro Day testing:
|NFL Combine Athletic Testing Percentiles (Last 10 Seasons)
As far as athleticism is concerned, Hall obviously did not disappoint. Eliminating the backs weighing in at less than 200 pounds, the only RBs that tested at around 75t -percentile or higher in the 40, vertical jump, and broad jump over those last 10 seasons were Jerick McKinnon — one of the most impressive Combine RBs in NFL history — and Elijah Mitchell. That’s some promising company. With the ties to McKinnon, we know Hall will be a hot commodity throughout his career since Jerrck has not lacked for suitors over his current nine-year career while playing for three different teams. The ties to Mitchell — who toned down to 200 pounds for the Combine but put some of that weight back on during his rookie season — inform us that Hall should have zero trouble transitioning to a featured role.
After Hall joined Iowa State, Campbell and OC Tom Manning completely reworked the attack in order to maximize his strengths. The Cyclones featured a spread offense that utilized 11-personnel groupings on nearly three-fourths of offensive plays in 2019, Hall’s true freshman season. After witnessing first-hand what Hall brought to the offense, ISU’s offensive usage of 11-personnel plummeted by 75%, converting every one of those snaps toward running the entire attack through Heavy (12, 13, 22, etc.) personnel packages. With back-to-back, consensus First Team All-American, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and Heisman Trophy top-10 finalist honors, the results speak for themselves.
Hall is a long-strider and runs high, but packs surprising balance for the upright style. And he adds solid timing for lowering pads when engaging direct contact. He offers plenty of patience to work behind Gap schemes but, as you can see from his specialty chart below, Breece tailored much of his ISU reputation behind inside zone blocking:
|Specific Blocking Success
|Carry % (IZ)
|Rush Yd % (IZ)
|Rush TD % (IZ)
|Inside Zone (IZ)
Hall chooses to work with his blocking setup rather than breaking play design away from the reservation. Despite the bordering-on-elite speed, he does not possess elite wiggle. He can be found sacrificing balance when dancing around in front of a closing defender — a trait placed on full display when defenders get into the backfield early. It may be difficult to stomach after his outstanding testing, but Hall is actually better running in traffic when using shorter, restrained bursts. His controlled approach allows him to showcase excellent vision when deconstructing gap availability.
Make no mistake, Hall does not shy away from contact — a trait that could aid in establishing a violent reputation for himself. If defensive backs fear physical rebuttals from Hall, it could aid in avoiding a good amount of contact over his career. He may deliver the bruises, but he also cuts on a dime — a possible indication he would record an excellent 3-Cone time. Arguably one of Hall’s most impressive traits is consistently making the first defender miss. He was clearly coached to follow the mentality that the beginning of the run begins at first contact.
If you buy into the narrative that the NFL is on the path toward eliminating the Pro Style offense, something at least one fantasy analyst out there subscribes to (wink), Hall will have some work to do in order to shake being built for that exact straight hand-off, Pro-Style approach. As outlined in the following chart, Hall’s mesh point work does not offer praises toward his RPO and/or Read-Option concepts:
|Future Success Based on Collegiate Experience
|Inside Zone (IZ)
|Outside Zone (OZ)
To drive home the point, on nearly 40% of carries with RPO and/or Read-Option, Hall failed to score a single TD and barely managed to accumulate 25% of his rushing yardage. Instead, Hall is at his best working without those misdirection bells-and-whistles on the hand-off. He displays a willingness to work outside of his intended gap and, when the leverage of his blocking is lost, he anticipates contact well when working through the freed-up defender. Decisiveness when attacking his lane already appears to be beyond his years — likely the result of tutelage from his stepfather and cousin’s NFL experience.
Perhaps no other trait of Hall’s screams fantasy stud potential more than being an absolute monster at the goal-line. It’s very likely the best nose for the end zone in the 2022 class. Use ‘21 footage across from Iowa, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas and TCU — each offering top-25 run defenses — to witness the arsenal of goal-line skills that will present major problems for future NFL offenses in GTG situations. We see the same from Hall when attacking Iowa State’s vanilla opponents, just without the ambiance drawn from facing the best of his opposition. Breece does have a decent stiff-arm, something he uses to distance his frame from defenders rather than pure violence.
To finish off the long list of plus traits for Hall:
He packs quality vision when reading second-level blocks
Does not give up on carries, arm tackles will not suffice
Offers plenty of forward lean to work through off-center tackle attempts
Showcases a slippery angled glide to tack on extra yardage
Hungry drive to pull defender for additional yardage
Pops back onto feet after the tackle, rarely waiting for a teammate’s hand so as to avoid displaying fatigue – intended-or-not
Hall’s explosion is really apparent when breaking outside contain. This will serve him toward breaking off long runs in his NFL future. A north-south RB with more than enough speed and acceleration to compete with the best stretch backs the class has to offer. He may not have the controlled wiggle of a Barry Sanders and he will require some seasoning if his future team is dedicated toward placing its skill positions into space. Hall’s pass blocking is NFL-ready and he made massive improvements to his receiving in 2022.
|Path to NFL Touches
This RB class has the potential to offer a handful of bell-cow options, with Breece considerably ahead of the pack. With his first-class pedigree and five-year window of absolutely dominant production, Hall is worth consideration alongside any of the WRs from this extremely impressive class in rookie drafts. In dyno startups, count on the window for selecting Hall after the third round permanently closing after the draft.
2021 Video Recommendations: Excellent ‘22 full-game examples where Hall put everything we want to see on display can be found in Week 2 vs. Iowa, Week 4 at Baylor, Week 7 at Kansas State, Week 8 vs. Oklahoma State, Week 9 at West Virginia, Week 10 vs. Texas, and Week 13 vs. TCU.
Optimal Landing Spots: Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins
Film Review Comp: Melvin Gordon III
Overall Comp (Factoring size, athleticism, tape and level of collegiate production): Jonathan Taylor