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 2022 class as of publication:
|Kenneth Walker III
|Pierre Strong Jr.
|South Dakota State
|Brian Robinson Jr.
Jumping one spot to move ahead of Hassan Haskins, we have the pleasure of evaluating another addition to the list of special RB talents recruited to Norman by the former Lincoln Riley and Cale Gundy collective mastermind, Kennedy Brooks. The NFL future for Brooks began as a 15-year-old sophomore at Mansfield High in Texas. Turning 169 carries into 1,271 yards (7.52 YPC) and 14 TDs, Brooks’ talent became instantly clear for late HC Daniel Maberry. His statements in regards to Brooks’ game are as revealing as the tape analysis that will be presented in this profile:
“He's not gonna pass your eye test, but I promise you he's the real deal. When you watched him in high school, nobody ever caught him from behind. Nobody ever got a clean shot on him. It's almost like he can envision where guys are gonna be before they're there. He sets them up, and then makes his move.”
Of course, that opinion was formed from more than Brooks’ sophomore success. At the time, Kennedy ran for the eighth-most rushing yards in Texas state high school history as a junior when he threw down a staggering 3,522 (8.17 YPC) and added 42 TDs. Brooks closed out his high school career with a measly 2,865 rushing yards (10.05 YPC) and 40 TDs as a senior.
Prior to that senior campaign, Brooks took his talents to The Opening Regionals presented by Nike+ in Dallas. The names at that pre-college combine are quite the eye-opener: Jalen Reagor, Jeffrey Okudah, Baron Browning, Laviska Shenault Jr., Charleston Rambo, Casey Thompson, Tyrese Robinson, Caden Sterns, Verone McKinley III, Avery Davis, Eno Benjamin, Calvin Tyler, Noah Cain, Tylan Wallace, Tre Brown and, of course, Brooks. You can find Brooks’ measurements in the table below:
|Testing from Nike+ The Opening Regionals in Dallas (2017)
Brooks chose to redshirt his first season on the Oklahoma campus with Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon, Abdul Adams, and Marcelias Sutton already in the rotation. Brooks spent the season on the sideline alongside Kyler Murray. When he took the field in 2018, it resulted in earning Freshman All-American honors after ranking third in the country with 8.87 YPC.
From the same The Oklahoman article, when Riley was asked about Brooks toward the end of his redshirt freshman season, after stammering to find the words, his answer really put Kennedy’s game into perspective:
“He doesn't just wow you with his incredible burst of speed,” Riley said. “Nothing physically he does … it's good, but in this world, at Oklahoma, there's nothing physically about him that's just like, holy cow. It's just, he's just … we get caught up in combines and 40 times and all this. He's just really good at football.”
Brooks opted out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic. After three active seasons with the Sooners, Brooks eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards and scored 31 TDs. In spite of that level of Power Five production, a massive portion of the nation lost track of Brooks when he chose to sit out the 2020 season (COVID). That’s not all that surprising considering the RB names jumping to the NFL ranks from the OU roster over the years. However, here we are in the thick of the draft process and Brooks is sliding well below the radar.
|NFL Combine Measurement Percentiles (Last 10 Seasons)
The measurement percentiles from the NFL Combine are provided in the table above. As was alluded to in Riley’s quote, all of Brooks’ physical dimensions teater around the average. The one that definitely stands out are his 5th-percentile hands. With that information, we simply cannot avoid the inevitable, talentless photoshop:
Let’s stick a pin in that hand size and take a look at Kennedy’s athletic testing profile:
|NFL Combine Athletic Testing Percentiles (Last 10 Seasons)
*From Oklahoma Pro Day on March 9th
The true benefit of confirmed 40 times from a RB are the 20- and 10-yard splits. As you can see, both highlight the shirt-area burst of Brooks. The next measurement that stands out is his 60th-percentile 3- or L-Cone time. Let’s apply the following filters to Combine RBs – entirety of the ‘21 class included – from the last 10 seasons:
- Measured at least 5-foot-11
- Weighed at least 205 pounds
- Timed with at least a 4.59-second 40-time
- Timed with a 3-Cone time of no more than 7.10 seconds
Notables among the 35 names remaining (in alphabetical order by first name): Brian Hill, Chris Evans, David Johnson, Jamaal Williams, Jonathan Taylor, Joshua Kelley, Kalen Ballage, Kene Nwangwu, Kenyan Drake, Kerryon Johnson, Melvin Gordon III, Miles Sanders, Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman, Tony Pollard, and Trey Sermon. Is it an exhaustive list of RB royalty? Far from it. But the value of this list is that, without even filtering it further to factor Brooks’ solid vertical and broad jump measurements, 45.7% of the names remaining on the list are either backs with plenty of potential for early success, provided our rosters with startable fantasy numbers in the past or are currently a substantial presence in the NFL.
A further stance could be made in favor of adding Dexter Williams, Javorius Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Ryquell Armstead, Tyler Gaffney, and Wendell Smallwood to the list as could-/should-have-beens. That would bring the number up to 60% “accuracy” on testing measurements alone. However, data should never be relied upon as sufficient on a standalone basis. We need to marry the numbers with the tape.
During his time in Norman, Brooks put in work with the books, collecting a master's degree in construction science. In addition to his high intelligence, he also has great film, of course. He showed that he is built low to the ground. Not only does he offer deceptive speed, he has some of the best feet in the class. Kennedy uses those quick feet to leverage his speed and plus quickness. Lane evaluation, foot meet ground, burst, rinse-and-repeat. A RB doesn’t need 4.3 speed with Brooks’ level of footwork, movement and deceptive quickness — see Rhamondre Stevenson.
|Specific Blocking Specialty/Success
|Carry % (P)
|Rush Yd % (P)
|Rush TD % (P)
So many downhill plodders and/or impatient RBs receive the “gets what the blocking provides” label. Brooks takes so much more than what he should from the blocking. And, hopefully shocking all of nobody at all from an Oklahoma RB, Kennedy practices absolutely outstanding patience. Coming equipped with that patience, unlike some former OU backs, does not limit his potential to a Gap-heavy scheme. His footwork, decisiveness and burst make him just as deadly within a Zone outfit.
|Future Success Based on Collegiate Experience
|Inside Zone (IZ)
|Outside Zone (OZ)
Evenly built in the upper and lower body, Brooks is just as difficult to tackle low as he is high. He bounces off tackle attempts without a visible disruption in momentum. That is a direct benefit of being a controlled runner, keeping vision locked on his surroundings and tapping into every bit of his plus change-of-direction on every carry. The one blocking aspect where it would not be recommended to utilize Kennedy is with Man blocking. Brooks is so efficient working with his blocking design that turning his path opposite to the flow of the O-line setup would represent lost opportunities.
Make sure you are seated for this statement: Brooks’ change-of-direction, patience, footwork and vision, when combined, stand among the top-three RBs in this class. If you have the means, watch Brooks’ first run of the second quarter in Week 5 at Kansas State for an example. The list of RBs in the NFL that could pull off the result of that run can be counted on one hand. Another detail that should be cemented into memory: Brooks’ change-of-direction, on its own, is right alongside Kenneth Walker III as the best in class.
Some may be asking themselves, with this type of evaluation, how is Brooks not being projected as a first rounder? Pun intended — “what’s the catch?”
First of all, Brooks should be a serious threat to be selected in the third or fourth round, at the latest. However, during his time at Mansfield, Brooks caught all of one pass. As you can see in the table below, he only brought in 30 receptions vs. 1,357 rushing attempts during his combined high school and collegiate career. That’s an average of 0.39 receptions and 2.97 YPG. Brooks has been prone to taking his eyes off his hands during the catch process. He will also allow the ball to get into his body. And Brooks offers a very low probability of off-target throws being collected.
It’s another reminder of the size of those tiny hands. Had Kennedy stood on his Combine measurement – 7 ⅝ inches, he would have set the standard at the 0th-percentile. (Javian Hawkins and his 7 ⅞ inch hands definitely would not have complained.) But Brooks somehow managed to pull himself out of the tiny paw trench with a flat eight-inch measurement. No matter the size of his mits, after the catch, everything falls into place and we see the same dynamic playmaker. But the odds that Brooks will manage to secure anything outside of an occasional, unplanned target in his NFL future is quite miniscule.
The table below highlights some of the least efficient RBs in the passing game in recent history. Keep in mind, it’s not a list of the worst receiving backs. Just some of the ones that stood out without spending an entire day of research to uncover. Clinton Portis and Joseph Addai, in particular, had every opportunity to develop into all-around trailblazers, falling well short of the mark.
|Ronald Jones II
*Three seasons of data from Mansfield High School and three seasons from the University of Oklahoma
Kennedy leaves a trail of futile tackle attempts in his wake. To the extent that he forced a substantial amount of additional “missed tackles” than is recorded under the general definition guidelines. Brooks consistently leaped forward at an altered angle off cuts in such a way that his carries resulted in a lengthy list of poor angles and over pursuits forced. His broken tackle rate already competes with any RB in the class but, if we include those forced poor angles and over pursuits, he may have been the most slippery back in the class during the ‘21 season. He may not do it by physicality but, make no mistake, Brooks punishes cheating defenders.
Brooks gives the impression the game is easy – and we know for a fact that it is far from it. Zero exaggeration, it literally felt as though the film evaluation was strong enough that it could have been concluded after three games to be sufficient — of course, all of his ‘21 games were viewed for this profile.
|Path to NFL Touches
With Brooks’ collection of weapons, it’s only a matter of time until he breaks off a 40-50 yard run. Using his explosion in production after the switch from Spencer Rattler to Caleb Williams in Week 7 last season as the evidence, he will be an even greater force to behold if ultimately paired with a dual-threat QB. Was Oklahoma blessed with some talented O-lines? Absolutely. But that is not the reason Brooks has literally dominated his competition for at least the eight years — just ask Eric Gray. It’s corny and will never stick, but this kid deserves a nickname in the range of Quickedy Brooks.
2021 Video Recommendations: Week 3 vs. Nebraska, Week 5 at Kansas State, Week 6 at Texas, Week 7 vs. TCU, Week 11 at Baylor, Week 12 vs. Iowa State, Week 13 at Oklahoma State and Valero Alamo Bowl vs. Oregon
Optimal Landing Spots: Really wide open fit for Brooks with his balanced scheme profile; Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, etc.
Film Review Comp (2021): Nick Chubb
Overall Comp (Factoring size, athleticism, tape and level of collegiate production): Elijah Mitchell