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: 6’1″
- Weight: 215 pounds
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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 also earns him plenty of notoriety heading into the 2021 season. 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 6’1″, 215 pounds, Hall has a well-built frame, and he has solid long speed for his size. He’s also undoubtedly explosive, possessing excellent short-area burst, both laterally and vertically.
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 an incredible consistency in 2020. 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 two years, he has 46 catches for 432 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s shiftier 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’s size isn’t a hindrance, 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.
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
A lot of NFL Draft hype naturally comes with the kind of production that Hall achieved in 2020. He undoubtedly deserves recognition for what he was able to accomplish; he paced the Big 12 and the nation with his performance on the ground. Hall’s scouting report is similarly strong, but is he good enough to be the undisputed RB1? I’d say the answer is no, but there’s a chance.
He’s intelligent, elusive, explosive, and he has the size to keep building on his athletic foundation. He also has enough contact balance to extend runs. Nevertheless, Hall’s physicality doesn’t show up with enough consistency to anoint him the top player at his position. Much of Hall’s work is done before direct contact. He can extend runs beyond that point, but he’s not yet elite in that category. He doesn’t quite have the uncanny corrective athleticism against direct contact that other prospects have possessed in the past.
Having said that, one of Hall’s best traits is that he can avoid direct contact with his burst, vision, and change-of-direction ability. But workhorse backs in the NFL have to be able to extend runs past contact. Hall is still good there, but he isn’t quite where he needs to be in that area. Nonetheless, the Iowa State RB is a strong prospect, and his junior season will be a valuable opportunity to keep improving.
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 and NFL Draft ascension
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.
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 can give him the launch he needs to the professional level.
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