Breaking down 3 RBs from the 2022 NFL Draft who might carve out roles at the next level

With the draft less than a week away, analyses and opinions on the top NFL Draft prospects have been largely solidified. 

We’ve all heard about the Aidan Hutchinsons, Kenny Picketts, and Malik Willises of the draft, but what about some Day Three running back prospects who might one day be fantasy contributors? 

Below is a breakdown of 3 RBs that can fill very specific roles at the next level both on the field and in deeper fantasy football leagues.

Credit: Pro Football Network

USC RB Keaontay Ingram

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 221
Age: 22
Career Numbers: 495 carries, 2,722 yards, 16 TDs, 89 receptions, 671 yards, 6 TDs (42 games)

Many forgot about Keaontay Ingram after his injury-plagued 2020 season and his subsequent transfer away from the University of Texas. Ingram made an immediate impact the moment he arrived in Austin as a freshman, then again at USC as a senior.

As a runner, Ingram possesses an interesting skill set that will appeal to most RB coaches in the league. His forward lean is indicative of his contact balance and nimble feet. He is capable of stringing cuts together but is best when he can plant his foot and go. When stringing out the play he attacks the outside hip of the EDGE effectively to create bounce angles for himself. What stands out most with Ingram is his vision on the second level. Once there, he has the patience and ability to stop on a dime. Ingram doesn’t have the fastest accelerator, but once he gets going he adeptly changes angles and is always looking for his next cutback lane. LBs and DBs struggle to catch him, let alone bring him down.

So why isn’t Ingram rated higher by evaluators and pundits? There are times when Ingram is too quick to bounce the play outside. This impatience could be remedied with better use of his size and physicality inside. One way to fix this would be to snap his hips upfield when making his cuts. Every so often you can see his hips drifting him towards the sideline. Ingram can fight the ball a bit when receiving, but once he tucks it, quickly transitions to his second-level running. In pass protection, Ingram has active eyes and can often see the most pressing threats but his body is late to respond to them. He has an odd tendency of becoming hyper-focused on the backside edge when in pass pro. 

At the end of the day, Ingram is an exciting all-around player in need of a fair amount of polish. However, teams that run a lot of zone will fall in love with his profile and slot him in as a backup that can work his way into some late-game situations. Expect him to be drafted early Day 3 and an injury away from D’Ernest Johnson-like opportunities.

Credit: ESPN

Missouri RB Tyler Badie

Height: 5’8”
Weight: 197
Age: 22
Career Numbers: 513 carries, 2,740 yards, 23 TDs, 126 receptions, 1,149 yards, 11 TDs (46 games)

Tyler Badie epitomizes the change-of-pace, value RBs usually found in some of the later rounds of the NFL Draft. While he lacks some key traits, he is one of those RBs where fewer touches might result in efficiency rivaling his college production of 5.34 yards per carry.

Badie weighs in at a slight 197 pounds but has a fairly sturdy build. Quick twitch movements and darting cuts define his running style. He shows great patience from snap to handoff and accelerates to the hole with blinding speed. He minimizes the target that defenders can hit by running low to the ground, even for someone his size. In the gap, he has an impressive knack for stringing together cuts to avoid DL and LBs in sequence. Although he has poor contact balance, he demonstrates efficient body coordination, always keeping his legs, hips, and eyes in sync. His versatility is a true strength. He is a good receiver both out of the backfield and from the slot. His natural hands transition instinctively to a textbook tuck and cradle. On routes, he creates separation with immediate acceleration out of the break, though this is less effective against DBs. His speed is the only thing that allows him to break arm tackles in space. Badie’s go-to move is a stationary spin, especially when receiving backfield pressure at the handoff point.

As with most speed backs, Badie struggles with his play strength in all facets of his game. He will have to take advantage of forward progress practically every time he touches the ball.  His lack of ankle strength leads to slower stops in route-running. His cuts, while effective, are messy and have a lot of wasted movement. He doesn’t gain yards by falling forward but rather sliding beneath tackles. Occasionally, Badie will give up a lot of ground to bounce the play outside. This is problematic especially when his hips don’t flip upfield until he has that outside crease. He must gain a more solid foundation to contribute in pass pro. He will never give you a “good” block but gets in the way when he is motivated. In most cases, Badie will avoid blocking if he can and sometimes even moves out of the way of the defender. This attitude sometimes shows in the form of taking plays off when he’s not the primary target.

Badie may be just what the doctor ordered for teams looking for a receiving back to energize their offense. His reliable hands and his durability will be a boon, while his special-teams experience should have him seeing the field soon. I expect him to be drafted in Round 5.

Credit: The Advocate/Hilary Scheinuk

LSU RB Tyrion Davis-Price

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 211
Age: 21
Career Numbers: 379 carries, 1,744 yards, 15 TDs, 28 receptions, 185 yards, 0 TDs (35 games)

Yet another prospect who lived the dream of playing for his hometown school, Ty Davis-Price was LSU’s feature back for the two seasons following their 2019 championship. What he lacks in finesse and grace he makes up for with physicality and toughness.

Davis-Price is a large RB that plays even bigger than his frame. He is especially strong on inside runs with his tendency to fall forward on every run. With his contact balance and one-cut mentality, he bounces off defenders at a hard-earned 4.8 yards per carry clip. He is quick to choose a gap and is determined to squeeze every yard out of it with lower-body power, sometimes to a fault. Davis-Price maintains a low pad level through the hole and regularly breaks arm tackles. As a receiver, he has capable hands and goes looking for contact even on screens. He won’t break too many outside runs but can be reliable in space in limited touches. If he has enough runway, he has the juice to break off long runs. He will not give up any ground to try to bounce. What he gains will not be lost in the same play because he keeps his hips facing upfield at all times.

Quicker than fast, Davis-Price is not the long threat that some of the other backs in the class are. His one-track mind is fairly apparent as he sometimes misses cutback lanes once he picks his gap. If there is no lane, he’ll make one by knocking over one of his blockers. Davis-Price is by no means a threat in the passing game nor a real contributor on special-teams. His stance is very upright, which isn’t necessarily concerning. The problem is that he remains upright in routes which results in wide turns instead of sharp cuts. Even in pass protection he was only ever asked to monitor one side of the line, perhaps suggesting a lack of awareness for both sides. However, he has a textbook cut-block: facemask to the thigh pad. 

Davis-Price is a fairly one-dimensional RB, but NFL teams can still find value in him. He is still improving after only three years of college and was only the primary starter for one full season. While I expect him to be drafted around Round 5, don’t be surprised if he vultures a few TDs and gets garbage time opportunities sooner rather than later.

Barnabas Lee may be a data scientist by day, but he’s an All-22 enthusiast and freelance contributor by night. Obsessed with all things NFL Draft, he will be featured on a post-draft show at twitch.tv/hubbsywubbs. He roots for the All-22, Korea, Cowboys, Terps, Nats, Mavs, G2, and Noles, in that order.

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