Running backs have seen an almost 80% draft rate at the Senior Bowl over the past three years, including a 100% draft rate in 2021 and a first-round selection in Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris. It’s also given us usable fantasy running backs like Antonio Gibson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Elijah Mitchell, and more recent names like Rachaad White, Brian Robinson, and Dameon Peirce. Paying attention to these running backs is an important part of the rookie cycle, so here’s a quick preview of who you will see at this year’s

Senior Bowl. 

 

AMERICAN TEAM

ERIC GRAY, OKLAHOMA

Height: 5’10 Weight: 210

2022 STATS: 
213
Carries – 1366 Yards – 11 TDs Rushing
33
Catches – 229 Yards – 0 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Quickness/Elusiveness
  • Receiving Prowess
  • Big Play Threat
  • Early Breakout

Needs Improvement:

  • Inconsistency
  • Play Strength
  • Pass Protection

Analysis: Gray apparently added 5+ pounds in his final season after being underweight most of his career. This will make his weigh-in at the Senior Bowl an intriguing part of the process. He took a big step forward this year as the lead back for Oklahoma, but questions will remain about his inconsistency in the years prior. A strong receiving resume (99 career catches) and a knack for big plays (23 rushes over 15+ yards) will certainly grab team’s attention, but an undersized weigh-in could make teams view him as more of a complimentary back. A solid showing at the Senior Bowl could vault Eric Gray into early day three consideration.

KENNY MCINTOSH, GEORGIA

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 210

2022 STATS: 
149
Carries – 829 Yards – 10 TDs Rushing
43
Catches – 505 Yards – 2 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Receiving Threat
  • Contact Balance/Play Strength
  • 2nd-Level Creativity
  • Size

Needs Improvement:

  • First Step/Burst
  • Breakaway Speed
  • Indecisiveness at Line of Scrimmage
  • Late Breakout

Analysis:  Although he was mostly an afterthought during his first three years as a bulldog, Kenny McIntosh led Georgia’s backfield in rushing and receiving in his final season. He brings a solid all-around skill set to the position, including a strong receiving profile in which he had the 4th-most catches and the 2nd-highest receiving yards in this RB class. McIntosh is far from a “slow” player, but his play speed occasionally leaves something to be desired (as does his verified 4.88 40-yard dash from his recruitment days). McIntosh’s size and 3-down skillset could make him a very intriguing option to NFL teams, placing him on the late day 2/early day three draft radar.

CHRISTOPHER RODRIGUEZ JR, KENTUCKY

Height: 5’11” Weight: 224

2022 STATS: 
175
Carries – 904 Yards – 6 TDs Rushing
5
Catches – 41 Yards – 0 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Power/Contact Balance
  • Vision at Line of Scrimmage
  • One-Cut Downhill Runner
  • Decisive

Needs Improvement:

  • Start/Stop 
  • Lateral Agility
  • 5th Year Declare
  • Off-Field Concerns

Analysis:   If you’re looking for an old-school bruiser at running back, Chris Rodriguez might be your guy. He’s a no-nonsense runner who gets downhill quickly and would instead go through you than around you, resulting in 3.83 yards after contact per attempt (10th out of 2022 eligible backs). With 64 missed tackles forced (9th in class), he proved that he wasn’t an easy target to get down and bounced off tacklers with ease. No one will mistake Rodriguez for an elusive menace in the open field, and his early season suspension in 2022 could point towards some immaturity off the field. Getting up close and personal with NFL staff at the Senior Bowl could be the biggest thing for Rodriguez this week as he heads towards a likely day three selection in the NFL draft.

 

TYJAE SPEARS, TULANE

Height: 5’11” Weight: 195

2022 STATS: 
229
Carries – 1,581 Yards – 19 TDs Rushing
22 Catches – 256 Yards – 2 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Elusiveness/Quickness
  • Burst/First Step
  • Patience

Needs Improvement:

  • Competition Level
  • Size
  • Short-Yardage Situations

Analysis: Spears was a late riser this draft cycle, going over 120 rushing yards in the season’s final eight games. He played his best when it mattered the most, averaging 193 rushing yards, 6.5 yards after contact, and ten missed tackles forced over the last three games of the year. He’s a dynamic and fluid runner who can make you miss by stringing together multiple moves without losing much speed. Despite playing well against USC’s poor defense, Tulane only played two Power 5 opponents this year, raising questions about Spears’ competition level. His size will be the most significant point of contention for teams, and it showed up in short-yardage situations. Weighing in above 200 pounds would go a long way for Tyjae at the Senior Bowl, but he currently projects as a day-three selection.

 

 

NATIONAL TEAM

ROSCHON JOHNSON, TEXAS

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 223

2022 STATS: 
93
 Carries – 554 Yards – 5 TDs Rushing
14 Catches – 128 Yards – 1 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Contact Balance/Play Strength
  • Patience
  • Blocking Effort
  • High Character

Needs Improvement:

  • Footwork
  • Elusiveness
  • Stop/Start Ability
  • Drops

Analysis: If you were to listen to anybody in the Longhorns staff talk about Roschon Johnson over the past four years, you would hear terms like “Selfless” and “Leader.” That’s the type of impact the converted QB has had during his tenure as Bijan’s backup running back. He’s an aggressive runner who slips tackles easily, as evidenced by his 4.28 yards after contact per attempt this year (3rd in the class). He’s shown versatility as a blocker, pass catcher, return threat, and even as a wildcat QB. As a converted QB, his footwork can come off a little clunky, and his change of direction leaves something to be desired. He has been a solid option as a pass-catcher, but he’s shown a tendency to fight the ball (12.5% drop rate in 2022). Overall, Roschon is a do-it-all back who may lack some high-end traits, but his versatility, size, and character should shine through in the Senior Bowl setting. He’s a candidate to see early Day 3 draft capital.

 

 

CHASE BROWN, ILLINOIS

Height: 5’11” Weight: 205

2022 STATS: 
328
 Carries – 1,643 Yards – 10 TDs Rushing
27 Catches – 240 Yards – 3 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Patience
  • Burst
  • Vision
  • Receiving Usage

Needs Improvement:

  • Power/Play Strength
  • Ball Security 
  • 5th Year Declare
  • Low Breakaway %

Analysis: Brown has a breakout year in 2022, finishing 2nd in the nation and first in the Power 5 in rushing yards. He displays excellent patience at the line of scrimmage, with the vision and burst to get downhill quickly. He took major steps forward as a pass-catcher, resulting in a positive ADOT (2.1) and three touchdowns through the air. Brown was a high-volume back(over 25 attempts in seven games), proving he could carry the load despite his size. He may have a harder time convincing teams of his play strength, as Brown struggled to get any push in short-yardage situations and finished with 2.84 YAC per attempt. His size and lengthy college resume could be a point of contention for teams, but Brown currently projects as an end-of-day 2/early day three selection with a chance to solidify his status if he can answer some concerns at the Senior Bowl.

 

EVAN HULL, NORTHWESTERN

Height: 5’11” Weight: 210

2022 STATS: 
221
 Carries – 913 Yards – 5 TDs Rushing
55 Catches – 546 Yards – 2 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Receiving Threat
  • Short Area Quickness
  • Vision at Line of Scrimmage

Needs Improvement:

  • Play Strength
  • Acceleration/Long Speed
  • Rushing Efficiency

Analysis: Evan Hull was the lone bright spot on a Northwestern team that routinely struggled offensively. His lack of high-end traits is countered by his exceptional vision and short-area quickness at the line of scrimmage. He may not break many big plays as a rusher (21 attempts over 10+ yards), but his abilities as a pass catcher will set him apart at the next level. He should walk into the NFL with an eye on a third-down role right out the gate, but he will have to improve his play strength and rushing efficiency to prove he can be an option on earlier downs. Hull currently projects as a day three selection.

 

CAMERUN PEOPLES, APP STATE

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 225

2022 STATS: 
101
 Carries – 593 Yards – 5 TDs Rushing
6 Catches – 43 Yards – 0 TDS Receiving

What we like:

  • Contact Balance/Play Strength
  • Downhill Decisive Runner
  • Footwork

Needs Improvement:

  • Upright/Stiff Runner
  • Competition Level
  • Year by Year Regression
  • 5th Year Declare

Analysis: 2022 was a tough year for Peoples, as he spent most of the year being hampered by nagging injuries. His best season came in 2020, but Camerun has failed to match the numbers and efficiency he put up as a redshirt freshman. Peoples is a one-cut, downhill thumper who constantly falls forward and drags defenders for extra yards(4.46 YAC/A). His lack of receiving skills (11 career catches) and lateral agility could leave him fighting for an early down role in the NFL. With the NFL seemingly moving away from his archetype at running back, Peoples currently projects as a late-day 3/UDFA selection.

 

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