While everyone wants to find out who the top quarterbacks for the 2022 NFL Draft will be, the answers have become even more clear about the top running backs for the ’22 class. Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller and Iowa State’s Breece Hall have done nothing but impress in 2021. They’ve maintained their spot at the top of our consensus rankings, but who filters in behind them?
Top 10 Running Backs in the 2022 NFL Draft
Hall and Spiller are essentially interchangeable at the top, but here’s how the rest of the class stack up at running back.
10) Sincere McCormick, UTSA
Sincere McCormick is a dependable, hard-nosed runner who is finally getting his credit with UTSA’s rocket to stardom in 2021. The heart and soul of the Roadrunners’ offense, McCormick has a terrific blend of speed and contact balance with just enough shiftiness. He’s a bit of a straight-line runner, but he certainly can make defenders miss.
What separates McCormick from the rest of the runners on this list is the offensive line he has run behind during his time at UTSA. It isn’t terrible even by Group of Five standards, but it certainly isn’t that of a Notre Dame, Iowa State, or even BYU offensive line group. McCormick manufactures enough on his own but slips through the tiniest of holes when available. He’ll grind out yardage for you on every down.
9) Zonovan Knight, NC State
Zonovan Knight hasn’t quite flashed in 2021 like he did a season ago, but still, he’s a valuable asset with the ball in his hands. Scoring only 3 touchdowns so far this season, Knight has taken a back seat to the Wolfpack’s aerial assault. Go back to a season ago (and even 2019), and you get the whole picture on Knight.
He’s a dynamic rusher who doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his wheels. Knight’s a consistent ball carrier and has no issue making defenders miss or bouncing off of them. With the shift to a heavier passing attack at NC State, he can elevate himself by showing more in the passing game the rest of this season.
8) Tyler Allgeier, BYU
A terrific story in his own regard, Tyler Allgeier is an excellent short-yardage back with the speed to push him to an every-down back at the next level. The best feature about Allgeier is that he’s only just now begun to hit his stride. Football clearly hasn’t taken the toll on his body like it has for most running backs who’ve been in college for four seasons.
Allgeier has displayed an advanced knack for finding yards after contact and has shown a burst of speed that we didn’t see much in his breakout 2020 season. He’s got wheels and can run by defenders in the secondary after breaking through the second level with maybe the best strength in the class.
7) Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
Kyren Williams is dynamic, there is no denying that. He adds a valuable target out of the backfield with 4 career receiving touchdowns (including 3 TDs this season alone). Williams can find the gap in the line, but he certainly doesn’t lack the ability to make defenders miss. His yards after contact totals have to be among the draft class lead and the national best — Williams routinely drags defenders for extra yards.
Williams has speed and strength in a compact frame that plays much bigger than his measurables suggest. He can provide value as a slot receiver as well if necessary.
6) Eric Gray, Oklahoma
After two seasons at Tennessee, Eric Gray hasn’t quite taken his game to the next level like some thought he would in the Oklahoma offense. Still, he’s shown the ability to mimic the level of success he saw with the Volunteers when given the opportunity. He’s still averaging 5.0 yards per carry and is terrific as a pass catcher.
Ball security may have been an issue with him in Knoxville, but we haven’t seen any troubles with fumbles so far in Norman. Gray is a potential sleeper as the quarterback situation with the Sooners continues to dominate headlines at Oklahoma.
5) Tyler Goodson, Iowa
As shifty as they come, Goodson should be named the human joystick (if he isn’t already). He’ll make multiple defenders miss at the same tackle point while adding value in a variety of offenses. Despite playing behind a dominant offensive line for the majority of his career, Goodson has shown continuous ability to break tackles and pick up yards after contact in chunks.
Consistent in the pass-catching game, Goodson has elevated his success on the receiving end of passes out of the backfield in 2021. His do-it-all ability has been on display, and he’s maintained a top-five spot on our running back rankings in the process.
4) Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Kenneth Walker III‘s ascension has seen him clear the top-five hurdle and has him locked in a battle with CJ Verdell for the No. 3 running back in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Walker exploded onto the national scene with a dominant performance against Northwestern to open the season. But the keen eye knew all they needed to know about Walker from two seasons prior at Wake Forest — his 4-touchdown game against the Wildcats wasn’t much of a surprise.
What separates him from the variety of running backs on this list is his ability to ascend to new heights — and the speed with which he was able to do so despite playing in a new offense with the Spartans. With the shelf life of a running back being as short as ever nowadays, Walker’s ability to perform at an elite level in Year 1 with a new program only does wonders for his draft stock and ability to likely play right away in the NFL.
3) CJ Verdell, Oregon
CJ Verdell‘s season-ending injury certainly hurts his draft stock and puts his limited action from Oregon’s short season ago into perspective. Still, Verdell was a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher in 2018 and 2019. While there are fears he may be injury-prone or have reached his peak, the latter is why he’s in the top three. His peak puts him among the best RB skill sets in the class.
Verdell is a yards-after-contact machine just the same as he is elusive. He’ll manufacture plenty of his own yardage despite playing behind All-World offensive lines for those 1,000-yard seasons. Verdell is remarkably consistent, despite what the 2020 COVID-19-plagued season for Oregon may tell you.
2) Breece Hall, Iowa State
Another Matt Campbell-coached running back is poised to make his presence known in the NFL. However, Breece Hall may be better than former Campbell products Kareem Hunt and David Montgomery. Hall is shifty, breaking tackles seemingly at will, but he’s also remarkably strong. He has an uncanny ability to shake off the first defender, no matter where he’s contacted.
He’ll rush through holes before defenders can blink, or he’ll take it around the edge with dynamic speed. Hall has it all and also presents a challenge in the passing game for defenders to stop. At 6’1″, 220 pounds, Hall has size on his side while playing like a much more compact runner.
1) Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
The ability to make ankle-breaking cuts is one thing. It’s a completely different feat to make those cuts and not lose any speed through your breaks. Isaiah Spiller doesn’t lose speed in his moves, and if anything, he actually speeds up when he plants his foot in the ground. All Spiller needs is an inch to go a mile.
With a terrific skill set of speed, size (6’1″, 215 pounds), mental strength, and a consistent approach to the game, Spiller is the class of running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s rare for a running back to be valued in the first round without possessing a ridiculous amount of success in both facets of the offensive game plan, but that’s how good Spiller is on the ground alone. He’s a safe, can’t-miss pick.
- Jerrion Ealy, Ole Miss
- Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State
- James Cook, Georgia
- Kevin Harris, South Carolina
- Rachaad White, Arizona State