Is there a first-round running back in the 2022 NFL Draft class?

2022 NFL Draft

It’s way too early to make any declarative statements about the 2022 NFL Draft. Let’s face it: we don’t even know what the landscape of the final draft class will be at this point in the NFL draft calendar.

The 2021 college football season kicks off on August 28, and not much will change between now and then (barring injuries or off-field issues) to impact the preseason assessment of certain position groups. It’s the in-season production and performances that will flip summer rankings upside down.

With that in mind, how does the expected 2022 NFL Draft running back class stack up? We saw two running backs picked in the first round of the 2021 draft — Najee Harris (Steelers) and Travis Etienne (Jaguars) — and Javonte Williams (Broncos) went 35th overall.

The 2022 NFL Draft doesn’t look — for now — like it will yield the same results. Instead, it’s more likely we’ll have a bunch of Day 2 prospects at the position.

The top names at this point in the process are Iowa State’s Breece Hall, Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams, and Georgia’s Zamir White. Other prospects who could rival for top-100 consideration are Alabama’s Brian Robinson Jr., Oklahoma’s Kennedy Brooks, and Ole Miss’ Jerrion Ealy.

Hall and Spiller are the only two running backs going in the first round of summer mock drafts, and on average, they’re coming off the board in the last three or four picks of Round 1.

In the latest mock draft from Bleacher Report, Hall was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick at No. 31.

“Iowa State’s Breece Hall led major college football last season with 279 carries for 1,572 yards,” wrote Brent Sobleski. “He finished second with 21 rushing touchdowns. Hall is more than a workhorse, though. Yes, he works through contact. At the same time, he presents breakaway potential.”

As for Spiller, he was the pick for the Miami Dolphins at No. 26 in PFN’s latest mock.

“Isaiah Spiller can do everything as a back,” PFN wrote. “He’s elusive, owns great contact balance, and provides upside as a receiver. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Spiller is what many consider to be the ideal size for a professional runner. Moreover, he provides excellent effort as a blocker in pass protection.”

Hall (6-1, 220) enters the 2021 season with a career 5.3 yards per carry average. Spiller (6-1, 225) is a tick better at 5.5 yards per tote.

Both players will be followed closely throughout the year and appear well ahead of any competition in the battle for RB1.

Regardless, neither prospect is ‘special’ and will need to match a productive season with a quality NFL Combine and Pro Day performance to really be considered first-round worthy.

Bryan Perez

Bryan is the founder of Pro Football Draft. His work has been featured on The Draft Network, NBC Sports and USA Today. Former CFL scout.

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanPerezNFL