NFL Combine 2022: Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker III among 5 running backs who improved their draft stock

Which running backs posted the most impressive athletic testing results at the 2022 NFL Combine? Here's a look at the biggest risers.

The draft world was steeped in anticipation on Friday night waiting for NFL Combine results from one of the deepest groups of running backs in recent memory. And in the end, that group of running backs didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the running backs who did the most for their NFL Draft stock on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Combine.

5 running backs who boosted their stock at the NFL Combine

Like all positions, athleticism is important, but not completely imperative for running backs. There are always traits like vision, instincts, patience, footwork, and contact balance that help to maximize a running back’s true utility. But if an RB has elite athleticism, their ceiling is naturally higher once they refine those teachable traits. The NFL Combine is a great tool to help quantify that athleticism.

Factoring in the importance of athleticism in the context of the RB position, let’s go over the biggest risers from the 2022 NFL Combine. Some of these running backs already had a lot of buzz, but their Combine performances helped to answer vital questions regarding their stock.

Breece Hall, Iowa State

Full disclosure: I had Breece Hall as my RB3 to start the year. The lack of elite contact balance, especially at his size, made me a bit skeptical. But the explosiveness was never in doubt, as we saw him shoot through lanes and stretch the open field with his speed.

Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge RB athleticism on tape. Some play faster than they test. So the question for Hall was, how much of it was play pace?

Hall’s NFL Combine performance confirmed that he’s indeed an elite athlete at the running back position. Hall logged a torrid 4.39 40-yard dash at 5’11”, 217 pounds. He also put up an outrageous 40-inch vertical and a 126-inch broad jump.

As of a few weeks ago, Hall was elevated to RB1 on my board. The combination of explosiveness, vision, and instincts is hard to match. And his Combine showing confirmed just how rare his traits are. He was already a top-50 prospect, but Hall likely now has the best chance among the RBs to go in Round 1.

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

Purely going off the tape, Kenneth Walker III is the best pure runner in the 2022 NFL Draft. He’s clearly explosive, with high-level instincts, agility, and balance — both through contact and through direction changes. Even so, Walker had a few questions to answer at the 2022 NFL Combine. There were concerns that he’d measure in around 200 pounds, considerably lighter than his listed weight. There was also some uncertainty regarding his athletic peak.

Nevertheless, Walker quelled any questions that remained regarding his athletic upside on Friday night. Walker got his first win during weigh-ins, when he measured around 5’9″, 211 pounds. Then he took to the field for testing and put up some of the best results among running backs at the NFL Combine. Among them, Walker embarked on a 4.38 40-yard dash and also registered a 34-inch vertical and a 122-inch broad jump. There’s still the passing-down utility to question with Walker, but he’s checked almost every other box.

Isaih Pacheco, Rutgers

If you worked up the courage to watch Rutgers’ offense at some point over the past few months, you no doubt saw Isaih Pacheco flash with natural playmaking traits. Aside from Bo Melton, he was the Scarlet Knights’ most dynamic player on offense. And now that he’s moving on to the NFL, Pacheco’s showing off some serious upside.

At the NFL Combine, Pacheco first weighed in around 5’10”, 216 pounds — terrific size for a running back. He then went and logged a blazing 4.37 40-yard dash, to go along with a 33-inch vertical and a 118-inch broad jump. Pacheco’s size-speed combination gives him a great deal of upside in space, and he’s also flashed receiving ability that might be maximized with more volume.

D’Vonte Price, Florida International

D’Vonte Price‘s weight has always been one of the biggest talking points regarding his stock. The Florida International product presents intrigue with his skill set. Especially when he has space, Price can use his north-south explosiveness and speed to get upfield and generate big plays. However, Price weighed in at 198 pounds at the Senior Bowl — an uncommonly light number for an aspiring NFL running back.

Heading into the NFL Combine, Price needed to not only show up heavier but prove he could retain his athleticism in the process. Luckily for Price, he did just that. Mixed in the results of the running backs at the NFL Combine, Price achieved a blistering 4.38 40-yard dash, a 34-inch vertical, and a 119-inch broad jump — while coming in at 210 pounds. That was a big box to check for Price, and it could drastically benefit his stock in April.

Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State

Sometimes, FCS prospects can fly under the radar. But on the flip side, if you’re an exceptionally good FCS prospect, you can stand out amongst inferior competition. Pierre Strong Jr., at the very least, accomplished that. A home-run hitter with dynamic downfield speed but also surprising agility and elusiveness in short ranges, Strong amassed 1,686 yards and 18 touchdowns on 240 carries in 2021, averaging 7 yards a pop.

The South Dakota State RB is aptly named, as his brand remained strong at the NFL Combine. The former Jackrabbit ran a 4.37 at 5’11”, 207 pounds — tied for the fastest 40-yard dash among running backs who provided results at the NFL Combine. Additionally, Strong delivered a stellar 36-inch vertical and a 124-inch broad jump. His dynamic ability has never been questioned. Now, however, we know he has the athleticism to compete with NFL defenders.

Honorable Mentions: Zamir White, Georgia; Tyler Goodson, Iowa; Keaontay Ingram, USC; Ty Chandler, North Carolina; Rachaad White, Arizona State

FEATURED
PFN NEWSLETTER

Every day, get free NFL updates sent straight to your inbox!