After Najee Harris and Travis Etienne, there’s a modest debate over who should be RB3. North Carolina’s Javonte Williams is the favorite, but other backs like Kenneth Gainwell, Trey Sermon, and Chuba Hubbard also have some buzz. However, if we’re going by sheer production at the college level, then Missouri running back Larry Rountree III deserves to be in that NFL Draft discussion, too. Behind Etienne and Harris, he’s the most illustrious producer in the class.
Larry Rountree III NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Running Back
- School: Missouri
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’10 3/4″
- Weight: 216 pounds
- Wingspan: 73 1/2″
- Arm: 30 1/4″
- Hand: 9 1/4″
Senior Bowl Performance
Rountree had a good Senior Bowl week. The Missouri running back showed off good athletic upside, despite weighing in at a healthy 216 pounds. He also showcased consistent playmaking ability in team drills at practice. He wasn’t as impactful during the game, amassing just four carries for seven yards. However, he did show off some receiving ability, catching two passes for 19 yards. Rountree is likely still a Day 3 pick, but his value is increasing after his Senior Bowl showing.
Larry Rountree’s background
As you might expect from a running back at a lesser-heralded Power Five school, Larry Rountree was overlooked in his recruiting class. A three-star prospect on ESPN’s 2017 recruiting board, Rountree was outside the Top 100 at the running back position. In his own state of North Carolina, he was only the 37th-best recruit.
Rountree only had a handful of offers. The Maryland Terrapins implored him to play in the Big Ten. The Boston College Eagles desired to bring him into the ranks of the ACC. But Rountree craved the developmental potential of the SEC. So when the Missouri Tigers approached him with an offer, he accepted.
Larry Rountree’s career as a Missouri running back
Rountree entered the Missouri football program in a golden offensive age. The 2017 season was the year that Drew Lock tore apart the SEC through the air, but Rountree still took on an immediate role as a rotational back. Behind senior running back Ish Witter, Rountree managed to accumulate 126 carries for 703 yards and six touchdowns. He also logged work on special teams, putting up 538 yards on 25 kick returns.
In 2018, Witter graduated, and Rountree became the Tigers’ lead back as a true sophomore. Rountree broke out in his expanded role, amassing 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns on 225 carries. In addition to his increased capacity on the field, Rountree also excelled off of it, earning All-SEC Academic honors.
Rountree’s final two seasons with the Tigers
The 2018 season ended up being Rountree’s most productive one for Missouri. Without the added passing threat from Lock, teams began to hone in on the box. Nevertheless, Rountree was a bright spot for a Tigers program that began to regress. In 2019, Rountree racked up 829 yards and nine scores on 186 carries. In 2020, he was named a team captain, and he closed out his career with 972 yards and 14 scores on 209 attempts.
At the end of his career, Rountree was one of the most decorated Missouri running backs in team history. He had 746 attempts, 3,720 yards, and 40 touchdowns over four seasons, averaging five yards per attempt over that span. He was second all-time in rushing production behind former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, and he was the most productive running back to wear black and gold.
In November, Rountree accepted an invite to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. It marked an exciting opportunity for Rountree to expand beyond his collegiate accomplishments, and announce himself to the world as an NFL Draft prospect.
Analyzing Larry Rountree’s NFL Draft profile
It’s my job to know way too much about football, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t know much about Larry Rountree before doing this evaluation. It’s odd because Rountree produced at a high clip every year with the Missouri Tigers. But the Tigers’ lack of success at the SEC level has prevented him from earning the prestige he’d gather at a more consistent school. That doesn’t matter anymore, though. Now, Larry Rountree is an NFL Draft prospect. And he’s a fairly exciting one.
Rountree’s energy as a runner first stood out to me on tape. The Missouri running back carries the ball with awesome energy. He has tremendous foot speed and exceptional explosiveness. This allows him to get out into space quickly. He’s also fairly light on his feet, and he has the agility and quick-cut capacity to make initial tacklers miss.
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Expanding on that agility, Rountree also has the vision and instincts to use it effectively. He has a solid gather step at the line, with which he can calculate his options, then explode forward with decisiveness.
Beyond his agility and burst, Rountree also has some solid physical elements to his game. At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, he’s a bit undersized. Nevertheless, he’s built with good density, and he’s able to lower his shoulder and win some collisions with his momentum. Rountree also has decent contact balance, and his agility allows him to regain leverage mid-play, whereupon he can then use a stiff arm to gain additional separation.
What are the holes in Rountree’s game?
While Rountree brings physicality in his mentality as a runner, his frame naturally puts a cap on what he can do. Rountree is elusive enough, but he doesn’t always have the balance or play strength to withstand contact in the backfield. The Missouri running back is far from a liability in contact situations. However, against larger NFL defenders, he may have less consistency outlasting early contact.
Rountree also isn’t a burner. He has good speed, but he won’t escape crowds on a regular basis. Thus, his ability against contact takes on more scrutiny.
Furthermore, Rountree isn’t a proven receiver. In an NFL that increasingly values receiving ability out of the backfield, Rountree is limited. Even when he played with Drew Lock at Missouri, he didn’t elicit many opportunities. And when he did, he did not produce consistently. Rountree’s explosiveness suggests that he can develop as a receiver, but for now, it’s an unknown on his profile, and that may impact his NFL Draft stock.
Larry Rountree’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Despite the concerns surrounding Rountree’s consistency in several departments, he’s a fairly strong middle-round running back prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. Rountree has good athleticism, good density, and he brings a ton of energy as a runner. He’s always quick on his feet and quick with his eyes, and as a result, he can be a reliable chain-mover behind a steady offensive line.
The consistency concerns are legitimate, however. Rountree will need to show off his contact balance more consistently at the NFL level, and he may have to add a bit more to his frame to assist with that. He also needs to prove himself as a receiver, or his three-down potential may be somewhat limited.
Nevertheless, in an NFL that continues to trend toward stables at running back, Rountree has the ability to be a good change-of-pace back, with some potential in a larger role.
Which teams could use Rountree in the NFL Draft?
Given the general replicability of running back production in the NFL, Rountree’s draft stock is diluted a bit more. Even with a solid performance at the Senior Bowl, he’s likely a Day 3 pick. Nevertheless, with a strong offseason performance, he can trend more toward Round 4 or Round 5, as opposed to Round 6 or Round 7. With high character, high energy, and a good degree of athletic upside, this is a guy I’d want in my running back room, in some capacity.
Teams with a need for a relatively high-upside rotational weapon in the ground game, such as the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, and Miami Dolphins, can acquire Rountree at great value.
Teams banking on late-round receiving potential, however, might want to pursue other options. There are some things Rountree still has left to prove. But his profile as a ball carrier has plenty of merit.