2022 NFL Draft: Ideal Fits for Top RBs Available

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2022

2022 NFL Draft: Ideal Fits for Top RBs Available

0 of 7

    Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

    While it's plausible the opening round of the 2022 NFL draft won't include a running back, at least two will be heavily considered.

    Michigan State star Kenneth Walker and Iowa State standout Breece Hall headline 2022's crop of players at the position. After sharing first-team AP All-America honors last season, they're approaching the draft as the consensus top two backs.

    Behind them, though, a few runners could be immediate NFL contributors if they land in the right offense.

    The order is a reflection of B/R NFL Scouting Department's top-rated backs. Relative to majority opinion, the most notable absences are Alabama's Brian Robinson Jr., Georgia teammates James Cook and Zamir White and Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller.

Dameon Pierce

1 of 7

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Dameon Pierce never had enormous stats at Florida, but he ascended on draft rankings after a solid 2021 campaign. The physical back rushed for 574 yards at a 5.7 yards-per-carry clip, adding 19 receptions for 216 yards and totaling 16 total touchdowns.

    At the NFL Scouting Combine, he checked in at 5'10" and 218 pounds. Pierce is a well-built runner who, while not incredibly explosive, has great contact balance and propensity for falling forward.

    And he'd be a terrific complementary piece for the Los Angeles Rams.

    Cam Akers is known more for his athleticism, and Darrell Henderson Jr. is entering the final year of his contract. The remainder of the Rams' depth chartJake Funk and Xavier Jones, among othersis uninspiring. Pierce would have a definite path to rotational reps and could be the backup to Akers in 2023 if the Rams choose not to re-sign Henderson next offseason.

Kyren Williams

2 of 7

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Kyren Williams has an intriguing outlook.

    He posted a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which undoubtedly dropped him on draft boards. However, the Notre Dame product looked much faster in college. Athletic testing is valuable, but ignoring tape because of a bad sprint would be foolish, too.

    Williams should also receive a bit of leniency for that underwhelming run thanks to his value as a blocker and receiver. He's a reliable pass-protector and made 77 catches over the last two seasons.

    That versatility would be a terrific addition for the Denver Broncos, who only have Mike Boone and Damarea Crockett behind lead runner Javonte Williams. If the Broncos have a shot at Williams in the third or fourth rounds, he'll merit serious consideration.

Tyler Allgeier

3 of 7

    Paul Abell/Associated Press

    Similar to Williams, Tyler Allgeier doesn't have breakaway speed but is simply a reliable all-around player.

    During his last two seasons at BYU, Allgeier rushed for a combined 2,731 yards with an excellent 6.4 per carry. In addition to his 36 scores on the ground, he reeled in 42 passes for 373 yards. Allgeier showed a consistent willingness to block, which is unsurprising given he was a linebacker in high school.

    Vision is a key strength of his, so a zone-run offensive scheme is Allgeier's ideal spot. He'd find exactly that on the Atlanta Falcons.

    Although they re-signed breakout star Cordarrelle Patterson and added Damien Williams in free agency, Atlanta is short on long-term options at the position. Veteran journeyman Mike Davis doesn't inspire much confidence in that discussion, either.

    Allgeier might not develop into an undisputed No. 1 runner, but he could quickly become a core piece of Atlanta's backfield.

Rachaad White

4 of 7

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Rachaad White may have a short commute to his NFL home.

    This offseason, the Arizona Cardinals re-upped James Conner but lost Chase Edmonds to the Miami Dolphins. While his departure leaves a void of explosiveness in the backfield, the Cardinals could replace him with the nearby Arizona State star.

    White tallied 420 rushing yards on just 42 carries while reeling in eight passes for 151 yards in 2020. Last season, he collected 1,000 yards and 15 scores on the ground and provided 43 receptions for 456 yards and added another touchdown.

    Conner is a fine pass-catcher, but he managed just 3.7 yards per carry in 2021. Arizona needs a big-play threat like White.

Jerome Ford

5 of 7

    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Physical, fast and versatile? Sign up, oh, 32 NFL teams.

    After measuring in at 5'10" and 210 pounds, Jerome Ford ripped off a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the combine. It validated what the Alabama transfer accomplished with Cincinnati, where he averaged 6.3 yards per carry on 288 attempts in two seasons. Ford also caught 21 passes for the Bearcats in 2021.

    As a result, Ford has a widely attractive skill setand it should be particularly enticing for the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Yes, they likely identified a gem in 2021 fifth-rounder Kenneth Gainwell. Still, the Eagles must consider a running back because Miles Sanders is entering the final season of his deal, Boston Scott re-signed on a one-year contract and Jason Huntley is unproven.

    Armed with six selections in the first 124 picks of the 2022 draft, Philly has plenty of routes to target Ford.

Breece Hall

6 of 7

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Whether the Buffalo Bills actually want to invest yet another early selection in a running back is an entirely fair question. After all, they selected Devin Singletary and Zack Moss in the third round of the 2019 and 2020 NFL drafts, respectively.

    Upgrades are always worth considering, though.

    Breece Hall recorded back-to-back seasons of 1,750-plus scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns at Iowa State. Additionally, he gathered 1,149 total yards and 10 scores in his freshman year.

    Again, the Bills don't need a running back. Singletary is a perfectly fine starter, while Moss and free-agent signing Duke Johnson provide sufficient depth for Buffalo.

    Hall, however, could thrive as a versatile weapon out of the backfield next to quarterback and rising star Josh Allen.

Kenneth Walker III

7 of 7

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Elite running backs are a luxury for rebuilding teams, but the Houston Texans need to find cornerstone players.

    Kenneth Walker III has that upside.

    After transferring from Wake Forest to Michigan State, he assembled a remarkable breakout year. Walker piled up 1,636 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, finishing sixth in Heisman Trophy voting. He added 13 catches for 89 yards and a score.

    Simply put, Houston doesn't have that caliber of back. Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead are serviceable players, but Mack signed a one-year deal and Burkhead is more of a receiver.

    Walker, on the other hand, could be a long-term answer for the Texans as they embrace a thorough rebuild.