2019 NFL Draft Rookie Prospect Analysis

Feb.12, 2019

by Matt Bruening (@SportsFanaticMB)

It’s our favorite time of year especially for those in dynasty leagues. We have moved past the declare date for all incoming NFL prospects and have made it through the Shrine game as well. The Senior Bowl is about to finish wrapping up as well, followed by the NFL combine. While many people will tune in and pay close attention to the combine and all its happenings, for most of us it just helps confirm what we have already thought about most of these players. While it is still fairly early on in the process it’s always good to try and get a leg up on the competition, and see how players stock moves up and down throughout the process up until and after the NFL draft. For this article I will focus on all of the incoming running backs. I will place them in tiers and breakdown their strengths and weaknesses moving toward the draft. These will be the first set of rankings for the running backs, the next set will come before the draft after the combine and pro days. Lastly after the NFL draft is completed, I will release my final set of running back rankings for fantasy. Without wasting anymore time let’s start breaking down the running backs.

1. David Montgomery- Iowa State

Height- 5’11

Weight- 216 LBS 

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 12 109 563 5.2 2 13 129 9.9 0

SO 13 258 1146 4.4 11 36 296 8.2 0

JR 12 257 1216 4.7 13 22 157 7.1 0

David Montgomery epitomizes the NFL back of old. Stout tough runner who when you need four yards, takes the ball and gets you five while running some guys over. He doesn’t have great speed or a great receiver so many will have him lower in their ranks. For me he has been extremely consistent in college and one of the best runners in this class.

Montgomery is a tough physical runner. He is very patient waiting for holes to open and will hit them quickly. Incredible lateral runner and usually takes multiple defenders to bring him down. He can be very elusive especially in the open field. Continually moves his legs to eat up tough yards. When asked he does a good job running routes in the receiving game.

Montgomery does struggle with drops and catching the ball at times when used in the receiving game. On rare occasions he would get to antsy and try and bounce runs outside and lose yards. While he has great short area burst, he doesn’t have homerun speed. He will be caught from behind on most long runs. 

2. Darrell Henderson- Memphis

Height- 5’9

Weight- 200 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 87 482 5.5 5 20 237 11.9 3

SO 12 130 1154 8.9 9 24 226 9.4 2

JR 13 214 1909 8.9 22 19 295 15.5 3 

Darrell Henderson is one of the most intriguing prospects for me this year. He has continued to improve every year and completely blew everyone away with what he was able to do his junior year. What makes it more interesting is the fact that everyone knew he was going to be getting the ball, and was the focal point of the offense. Yet he was still able to have his best year in college. The more people look at his tape the more impressed they become, he will likely be a top back for most, especially if he has a great combine.

Henderson is a very gifted runner. He has shown great contact balance and has great burst and homerun speed. He showed how adept he is in the receiving game and looks primed to be a three down back in the NFL. He can be very elusive and when he can get into the open field is a threat to take to the house.

Henderson’s weakest trait is his pass protection. Which could limit some of his snaps at least early on in the NFL. He showed at times to try and make too much out of nothing and caused negative plays, instead of just taking what was given and “living to fight another down.” He has shown at times to move away from contact, which can be good for overall health but some will question his willingness to go up the gut and take on defenders.

 

 3. Rodney Anderson- Oklahoma

Height- 6’1

Weight- 219

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 2 1 5 5.0 0 0 0 0 0

SO 13 188 1161 6.2 13 17 281 16.5 5

JR 2 11 11 10.8 3 0 0 0 0 

Anderson is the clear-cut elite running back of this class for me. Many will think he is too high and that it is a reach to have him here due to his knee injuries. He has suffered two serious knee injuries now in college. While that can be scary entering the NFL with an “injury concern” he was by far one of the best backs in college two years ago, and was a Heisman front runner be it all for two games last year. In his sophomore year he showed us exactly how talented he his and was considered one of the best backs in college, if he participates in drills at the combine his stock should continue to rise.

Anderson has the ideal build for the prototype NFL back. One of the best in this class running behind his blockers, and when the hole is opened his burst is elite. He has incredible homerun speed and when is space is one of the deadliest running backs in this class. Consistently breaks through arm tackles and is extremely elusive.

Anderson struggles at time with his vision. Taking runs and bouncing them outside while holes are opening in front of him. While I personally think he has great burst through holes, some question it at the next level. His biggest concern is durability. He has suffered multiple season ending injuries, which many will wonder can he hold up at the next level?

4. Miles Sanders- Penn State

Height- 5’11

Weight- 215 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 25 184 7.4 1 2 24 12.0 1

SO 10 31 191 6.2 2 6 30 5.0 0

JR 13 220 1274 5.8 9 24 139 5.8 0 

Miles Sanders is my favorite prospect in this class and it may be hard for me to judge him fairly. He sat behind Saquon Barkley who was a pretty good prospect in his own right, for two years at Penn State. When he finally got the chance to be the starter, he flashed his brilliance in what he did in his junior year. He has some of the most exciting runs I’ve seen on tape and if he had been given a chance to be a multiple year starter, he may very easily be sitting as the number one is this class.

Sanders much like the other elite talent in this class does a good job being patient behind his offensive line. He makes great jump cuts and burst through holes. He is the most elusive back in this class for me. Quick feet an elite stutter step his hesitation moves and jump cuts put defenders on skates, and almost always wins one on one battles. Has top tier breakaway speed as well.

Sanders playing time will be questioned as he has only been the starter for one year. Though some could argue that’s good for his legs as well not having as much work on them. He didn’t have many games against top tier defensive players, and when he did, he struggled at times. He also tends to try and bounce runs to the outside more often then he should. He wasn’t used as much in the passing game as Saquon was the year before, so he has some questions about that part of his game as well coming into the NFL.

5. Joshua Jacobs- Alabama

Height- 5’10

Weight- 216 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 14 85 567 6.7 4 14 156 11.1 0

SO 11 45 284 6.2 1 14 168 12.0 2

JR 15 120 640 5.3 11 20 247 12.4 3

Joshua Jacobs maybe the one player who has risen his stock to astronomical value over the past few months. From a guy backing up Damien Harris to eclipsing him to now for many people the best back in this class. Many have compared him to Alvin Kamara and believe he has that upside as well. I personally haven’t quite jumped on that train. Jacobs really burst onto the scene in the back half of the 2018 season and definitely showed he’s better than Harris. I’m a little worried buying into his hype based on the fact that his biggest workload came in his junior year and he still wasn’t the feature back for most of the season. That said from what he put on tape, if he has a great combine and pro day, he will likely be one of the first backs drafted.

Jacobs has a good blend of power and speed. He has shown at times to be in the class of the elite backs in elusiveness. In what seems like almost every run he had he would make the first tackler miss, allowing him to eat up yards with his burst. Can make some incredible jump cuts and when in open space a threat to go to the house.

Jacobs strength may also be one of his biggest weaknesses, he seems to go looking for a hit at times to try and run through people. His aggressive play style could lead to injuries down the road. He shows lack of vision at times in the pocket and tends to try to often to cut to the outside. He also will need to improve on his pass blocking at the next level.

End of tier 1

6. Trayveon Williams- Texas A&M

Height- 5’9

Weight- 200 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 156 1057 6.8 8 19 91 4.8 0

SO 12 173 798 4.6 8 20 192 9.6 0

JR 13 271 1760 6.5 18 27 278 10.3 1

Trayveon Williams is quite an exciting prospect for me to evaluate. After having a productive freshman season, he didn’t quite live up to the billing in his sophomore year. However, he suffered an ankle injury very early in the season and never looked completely right. Fast forward to 2018 and his junior year and he was lights out. Vaulting him into the top of tier two for me. He has good size and speed and will be very interesting to watch throughout the process.

Williams may look slight of frame but he is well built. He has incredible burst and doesn’t need much room to get to the second level. Good vision and often quickly decides if he is going to bounce it to the outside. He has tremendous speed and usually will get to the outside and get upfield beating defenders, because of his speed. Has a ton of experience in the receiving game. He has even been split out at WR at times. He does a good job in pass protection as well.

Williams struggles to fight through tackles at times and more often than not is brought down by first contact. While he has shown he’s very good in the receiving game, he lacked to show me great potential there. He does a good job racking up yards but hasn’t scored many touchdowns. I think he has a chance to be an every down back but he’ll need to bulk up a little bit more, which I worry may slow him down some.

7. Devin Singletary- FAU

Height- 5’9

Weight- 200 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 12 152 1021 6.7 12 26 163 6.3 0

SO 14 301 1918 6.4 32 19 198 10.4 1

JR 12 261 1348 5.2 22 6 36 6.0 0

Devin Singletary sits near the top of what is an extremely deep tier two for me at running back. While Singletary is a good prospect, he has some flaws and many questions what he’ll be able to do against elite talent. He has still been extremely productive in his three-year college career. If he is able to show out during the Draft process he should be drafted in the middle rounds, and his landing spot could be key for his development.

Singletary rushes with a ton of power and does a great job leveraging that against oncoming defenders. When in the open field he does a good job keeping his feet moving does a good job planting his feet and moving to avoid contact. For the most part is patient and allows holes to develop but needs to run with a bit more urgency at times.

Singletary doesn’t have great burst or homerun speed. He will lose yards by getting caught from behind in the open field. He struggles in pass protection. Again, many will question his ability at the next level, indicating his stats and usage where a product of the Lane Kiffin offense than his talent.

8. Elijah Holyfield- Georgia

Height- 5’11

Weight- 215 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 3 6 29 4.8 0 1 19 19.0 0

SO 10 50 293 5.9 2 1 4 4.0 0

JR 14 159 1018 6.4 7 5 40 8.0 0 

Elijah Holyfield is another player in the tier two that has been boosting his stock throughout the season and made a name for himself. Stuck behind extremely talented backs his first two years, his junior year allowed him to flash some skill while splitting time with Swift. Holyfield is one of the prospects I could see jumping into tier one. However, his lack of work in the receiving game does worry me in translating to the next level. He all in all is my sleeper pick in this draft class.

Holyfield plays with great instinct’s and does a good job creating that space for himself with his patience. He doesn’t have much work on his legs for a seasoned veteran which is always good. He has surprising burst and while he won’t break many huge runs, he’ll get up and into the second level quick. He rarely loses yards on runs. He is not afraid to square up with defenders and make the business decision to run straight through them.

Holyfield lacks in the receiving game and is something he will have to improve on at the next level if he wants to be an every down back. He also doesn’t have the homerun speed factor and will get caught from behind on long runs.

9. Benny Snell- Kentucky

Height- 5’11

Weight- 223 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 186 1091 5.9 13 2 39 19.5 0

SO 13 262 1333 5.1 19 10 72 7.2 0

JR 13 289 1449 5.0 16 17 105 6.2 0

Benjamin Snell Jr. made a name for himself this year when racking up 1,400 yards and going off in big games. Snell was one of the biggest reasons Kentucky was so good throughout the year and had a chance to play for the SEC title game. While I will argue he had a much better season in his sophomore year, and probably should have gotten more recognition then. He’s here now and likely going to be a name we hear a lot in the NFL.

Snell is a strong physical runner that didn’t wear down regardless of the workload. He continually keeps his legs moving, which usually ends in multiple defenders draped on him as he continues to pick up a few more yards. He does a good job running with his pads low to initiate contact and get-tough yards. Can get to the outside and make big plays. He is also a good and willing pass blocker. He did see some work in the slot in the receiving game.

Snell lacks elite burst and speed. He is not very elusive and likely won’t win a 1v1 situation. While he was put in the slot at time still lacks a lot of receiving work in the college game, will need to improve on that in the NFL. Though he can be a physical runner he doesn’t really break many tackles. Doesn’t seem to posses the burst to get to the outside against athletic edge rushers.

10. Damien Harris- Alabama

Height- 5’11

Weight- 215 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 10 46 157 3.4 1 4 13 3.3 0

SO 15 146 1037 7.1 2 14 99 7.1 2

JR 14 135 1000 7.4 11 12 91 7.6 0

SR 15 150 876 5.8 9 22 204 9.3 0 

Damien Harris looked to be primed to be the best back at Alabama in 2017 and coming into the 2018 season. For most of 2018 that proved to be true. However, Joshua Jacobs showed up and slowly but surely started to drain the hype away from Harris and gave it to himself. Harris is still a good back. However, there is still a very serious stigma against Alabama backs (especially when it comes to fantasy.) When only Mark Ingram has been considered a success at the pro level. The good new for all you Harris fans, he projects to be more like Mark Ingram than any other Alabama back in the NFL.

Harris has great vision in the backfield and very quick feet. He rarely spends time in the backfield jumping into the 2nd level as quick as possible. He does a good job dropping his pads to move through the offensive line, does a good job taking on defenders and continually moving forward. Ball security is one of his best attributes and does a great job in the receiving game, some of the softest hands at the position. He can be very quick and shifty in small areas or short yardage situations.

Harris lacks top end burst and homerun speed. While he will take on defenders, he isn’t exactly known for being a tackle breaker. He isn’t very elusive which could cause problems at the next level. He also struggles as a pass blocker as well at the next level. Harris profiles for me more of a change of pace and receiving back in the NFL than a three down back.

11. Justice Hill- Oklahoma State

Height- 5’10

Weight- 190 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 206 1142 5.5 6 5 46 9.2 0

SO 13 268 1467 5.5 15 31 190 6.1 1

JR 10 158 930 5.9 9 13 68 5.1 0 

Justice Hill is getting a lot of comparisons to Trayveon Williams who is higher up in my ranks. My biggest difference between the two. Hill is a much better runner, while Williams is a much better receiver. While had success in his first two years rushing the ball that didn’t happen as much this year. However, he did miss three games due to an injury. Hill is an explosive weapon and has some of the most exciting runs that I was able to watch on tape. His size will be the biggest thing holding him back at the next level.

Hill possesses some elite level burst and quickness. His ability to recognize the hole and get through it to the second level is up there with the best in this class. His ability to burst upfield and get yards is incredible. He tends to lose linebackers with his great lateral running skills and has a nasty stiff arm, that would make guys like Vance McDonald proud.

Hill struggles some in the receiving game though mostly with drops. He is not a power runner and most of the time goes down with first contact, not a tackle breaker. He also does struggle at times in the open field to make defenders miss.

12. Bryce Love- Stanford

 

Height- 5’10

Weight- 202 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 14 29 225 7.8 2 15 250 16.7 1

SO 12 111 783 7.1 3 8 83 10.4 1

JR 13 263 2118 8.1 19 6 33 5.5 0

SR 10 166 739 4.5 6 20 99 5.0 0

Bryce love is often the forgotten man of this class. Suffering a torn ACL injury in his final game in college has unfortunately pushed him down boards and increased the injury prone narrative. While the first two years of his college career he sat behind Christian McCaffrey. He burst onto the scene his junior year, when many people believed he should have come out. He decided to go back to school and try and become the best back coming out this year. Injuries and inconsistent play dropped his stock significantly. He likely won’t be ready for the combine or pro day workouts. Where he gets drafted will be huge for Love and his future. However, we can’t forget how good he has looked throughout most of his career. 

Love has elite acceleration and top end speed. Does a good job in winning the corner eliminates angles with defenders with his homerun speed.  He does a good job breaking arm tackles and very good at using his burst to get to the second and third level. More elusive with his speed than using spin or cut moves. He is a decent and willing pass blocker.

Love lacks elite vision and lacks elite elusiveness. He tends to run a bit upright at times instead of lower to the ground. While he has top end speed, he tends to get bottled up a little more than many would like. Needs to work on his receiving skills to be a three down back in the NFL.

End of tier 2

Here are my tier three running backs. I will not do full breakdowns on these guys. I will wait to see the combine results and where they get drafted. I wanted to still put them on the list with their college career stats, as players to watch over the next coming months leading into the draft.

13. Mike Weber- The Ohio State

Height-5’10

Weight- 214

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 182 1096 6.0 9 23 91 4.0 0

SO 12 101 626 6.2 10 10 94 9.4 0

JR 13 172 954 5.5 5 21 112 5.3 1 

14. Devin Ozigbo- Nebraska

Height- 6’0

Weight- 235 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 8 38 209 5.5 1 5 62 12.4 0

SO 9 97 412 4.2 5 5 100 20.0 0

JR 10 129 493 3.8 3 16 123 7.7 0

SR 12 155 1082 7.0 12 23 203 8.8 0 

15. Myles Gaskin- Washington

Height- 5’10

Weight- 193 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 277 1302 5.7 14 6 19 3.2 0

SO 14 237 1373 5.8 10 19 137 7.2 1

JR 13 222 1380 6.2 21 19 232 12.2 3

SR 12 259 1268 4.9 12 21 77 3.7 1 

16. James Williams- Washington State

Height- 6’0

Weight- 205 LBS

Class Games Att Yards Avg Td Rec Yards Avg Td

FR 13 102 585 5.7 6 48 342 7.1 1

SO 13 92 395 4.3 1 71 482 6.8 3

JR 13 122 563 4.6 12 83 613 7.4 4 

Check back soon as I will have my top wide receiver ranks up, and man is it a loaded and fun class. They will be out before the combine. At which point I will continue to breakdown the second tiers of each position as we move closer to the drafts before we finalize our rookie ranks. If you want to discuss with me any of my ranks you can always hit me up on twitter @SportsfanaticMB and of course always check out The Back Row Fantasy Show throughout the offseason for all your dynasty needs.