The debate regarding the value of running backs will wage on for years to come, but NFL teams don’t seem keen on devaluing the running back’s skillset within the league itself. Two running backs — Najee Harris and Travis Etienne — were drafted in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft. And over the past four drafts, an average of 4.5 running backs have gone in the first two rounds. Running backs who can create to some degree will always be valued over their counterparts. Looking at his scouting report, does Iowa State RB Breece Hall have the skill set to be valued as such in the 2022 NFL Draft?
Breece Hall NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Running Back
- School: Iowa State
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 5’11 1/4″
- Weight: 217 pounds
- Wingspan: 75 7/8″
- Length: 31 1/4″
- Hand: 9 3/4″
Breece Hall Scouting Report
The famed Najee Harris handily led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2020, but he did not take home the yardage crown. That honor went to Iowa State’s Hall, who amassed a whopping 1,572 yards. That’s 106 more yards than Harris in one less game.
On top of his yardage production, Hall was also the only Division I-A running back besides Harris to eclipse 20 touchdowns on the ground. Hall’s all-around excellence earned him Heisman consideration, and it he kept it going in 2021. But will it also garner him a spot in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft? For that, we have to look past the box score and to the field.
Breece Hall’s athletic profile
Athleticism isn’t a deal-breaker at the running back position, but it certainly helps to have a solid toolbox at your disposal. There’s no question that Hall’s scouting report checks that box. Standing at 5’11 1/4″, 217 pounds, Hall has a well-built frame, and he has great long speed for his size. He’s also undoubtedly explosive, possessing excellent short-area burst, both laterally and vertically.
Hall confirmed his athleticism at the NFL Combine, registering a 4.39 40-yard dash and a 40″ vertical. With his speed and stride lengths, Hall can elongate spaces, but he makes the most of smaller spaces and opportunities in crowded areas. The Cyclone has solid natural elusiveness, which allows him to create for himself to some capacity. He’s an instinctive mover in congestion, whose strong footwork and loose hips allow him to stay on his feet and continually analyze available space.
Expanding on his movement ability, Hall can sink his hips and burst forward when changing directions. He has undeniable twitch, and he transfers weight very well. His explosiveness is best in short areas, but it can extend well down the field. That burst allows Hall to clear holes and get into space, where his skill set shines.
Execution beyond the physical traits
As alluded to above, it helps players to have plus athletic traits. However, there are other, more operational traits that also provide comparable value. For running backs, these traits include vision, contact balance, and receiving ability. Hall isn’t a perfect prospect in the operational department, but he does have one standout trait that amplifies his profile — vision.
Hall’s vision stands out as one of his defining traits. The Iowa RB is fairly consistent picking out lanes through which to explode. With this vision, he found space with incredible consistency in 2020. He was less consistent in 2021, but still flashed great instincts behind the line. Beyond the line, Hall owns exceptional full-field vision at the second level. With his combined vision and natural elusiveness, Hall can manipulate angles and methodically extend his runs.
Beyond that, Hall has a few more strengths. He owns a formidable stiff arm, and he has some measured contact balance, although he’s not elite there. Additionally, Hall is a decent blocker and has proven himself to be a competent receiver out of the backfield. Over three years, he had 82 catches for 734 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s shifty after the catch, and that extra dimension gives him even more long-term upside.
Areas for improvement
Hall is explosive, elusive, and proactive in finding space to work with. That’s an excellent foundational combination for a running back. Even so, there are some lesser parts of his profile, some of which he can improve on in 2021.
Hall has a well-sized frame, but he’s not overly powerful. Despite his statistical production, he’s not quite as physical as advertised. The Iowa State RB doesn’t drive through defenders consistently, and he can also be more consistent with his contact balance. Hall has a thick frame and flashes a finisher mentality, so there’s a chance he could add a more physical element to his game. Nevertheless, as it stands, his style features more finesse than force.
In a similar vein, Hall can sometimes play himself off-balance when trying to elude. Because of this, as good as he is at extending space, I wouldn’t say he’s an elite natural creator. He’s a well-rounded running back, but he doesn’t have the elite stop-and-start ability or the tackle breaking capacity you’d expect. He also has some wasted motion at times behind the line.
Among other things, Hall is prone to the occasional missed lane when using his vision behind the offensive line. The Iowa State RB can also be tentative and indecisive, and he doesn’t quite have the physicality to compensate when that happens.
Breece Hall 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Breece Hall isn’t the undisputed RB1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. And early on in the process, he was my RB3. But earlier in the offseason, I reconsidered and moved him to RB1. The NFL Combine was a valuable experience for him, but we all knew he was athletic. He has the explosiveness to hit gaps with voracity, and he also has the speed to stretch open seams at the second level.
The question isn’t Hall’s athleticism, but instead his translatability. While his vision is generally very good, there are some times where he hesitates or tries to do too much behind the line. And his contact balance, while decent, isn’t quite at the level you’d expect for his size. He shows flashes of physicality, but doesn’t always play up to his frame.
Nevertheless, Hall is intelligent, elusive, explosive, and he has the size to keep building on his athletic foundation. He also has enough contact balance to extend runs, and has the frame density that would suggest greater potential. On top of that, one of Hall’s best traits is that he can frequently avoid direct contact with his burst, vision, and change-of-direction ability.
With his special athleticism, vision, receiving ability, and strong frame, Hall has the traits to be a productive NFL back. For my money, he’s RB1, and he has the best chance of going in Round 1.
Breece Hall’s Player Profile
Being at the top of the leaderboards isn’t anything new for Hall. The Iowa State RB has long had a knack for putting up gaudy numbers. He was the star player at Wichita Northwest High School. There, he amassed 4,209 yards and 61 touchdowns in two seasons on the varsity roster. He also caught 32 total passes for 718 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 22.4 yards per catch.
It’s not exaggerating to say that Hall dominated in high school. However, production alone wasn’t quite enough to earn him the interest of the nation’s top schools. He remained a mere three-star recruit on ESPN’s 2019 board. Listed at 6’1″, 200 pounds, Hall still received scholarship offers from a host of Power Five schools, including Michigan, Kansas State, Ole Miss, and TCU.
He could have stayed in-state, but Hall was instead drawn to Matt Campbell’s program in Ames, Iowa. In 2019, he officially enrolled and became a member of the Iowa State Cyclones.
Breece Hall’s career at Iowa State
Apparently, Iowa State got the memo when they saw Hall’s high school stat sheet. They threw him right into the fire as a true freshman, and he thanked them for it. Hall played in 12 games in his first collegiate season and started the final seven contests. Over that span, he amassed 897 yards and 9 scores on 186 carries. On top of that, he caught 23 passes for 252 yards and another score.
Hall was named a first-team Freshman All-American for his production in 2019, but that was only a warm-up. In 2020, Hall legitimately exploded onto the CFB scene, barreling through Big 12 defenses to the tune of 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns on 279 carries. He was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and was a first-team All-American at his position.
2021 was another productive year for Hall. The Iowa State RB carried the ball 253 more times, and amassed 1,472 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also caught 36 passes for 302 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hall once again landed in the Top 10 Heisman rankings. And at the end of the season, he officially declared for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Breece Hall’s NFL Draft ascension
Hall isn’t the first highly-esteemed running back in his family. Peculiarly, he’s cousins with 60-year-old Roger Craig, the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year in 1988. His stepfather, Jeff Smith, was also an NFL running back.
Hall isn’t the first, but can he be the best? We won’t know the answer to that for some time, but a strong 2021 campaign gave him the launch he needed. And his NFL Combine performance only reaffirmed his natural talent. Hall has the tools to be a starter in zone and gap schemes, and his receiving ability affords him three-down utility.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Breece Hall
Positives: Nice-sized ball carrier with a complete game. Displays tremendous instincts as well as running vision. Resilient and works runs hard. Patiently waits for blocks to develop, consistently turns it upfield, and gets a lot of momentum going. Possesses a burst through the hole, runs with proper lean, and grinds it out on the inside.
Strong, breaks tackles, and picks up the difficult yardage. Displays great football intelligence, finds the open space in the defense, and pops up out of nowhere when nothing seems to be available. Effectively helps the quarterback sell ball fakes. Terrific pass catcher out of the backfield. Productive blocker when called upon.
Negatives: Lacks true perimeter speed and cannot beat defenders around the outside despite his 40 time. Gets in trouble when he tries to run laterally. Doesn’t improvise when plays break down.
Analysis: Hall was a tremendous ball carrier for Iowa State the past two seasons and often carried the unit on his shoulders in 2021. He’s a big back who can handle a lot of carries as well as effectively catch the ball out of the backfield. If he learns the play to his 40 time, Hall will be a dangerous running back in the NFL.
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