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NFL Combine results: 10 standouts from the running back group

Did Kenneth Walker III cement himself as RB1?

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL Combine’s on-field drills continued on Friday night, featuring players from the offensive line and at running backs.

If you missed our previous offensive reviews, be sure to check out:

The running back group, much like the wide receiver group, brought a surprising amount of speed to the Combine. Seven prospects ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds or faster. Let’s take a look at those who beat that mark:

  • 4.37: Pierre Strong (South Dakota State), Isiah Pacheco (Rutgers)
  • 4:38: Kenneth Walker III (Michigan State), D’Vonte Price (FIU), Ty Chandler (North Carolina)
  • 4.39: Breece Hall (Iowa State)
  • 4.40: Zamir White (Georgia)

If we look a step further into the measurables, a broad jump of 9-foot-11 or better is terrific for running backs. Let’s see which of the above speedsters can also jump:

  • 10-foot-8: Zamir White
  • 10-foot-6: Breece Hall
  • 10-foot-4: Pierre Strong
  • 10-foot-2: Kenneth Walker
  • 10-foot-1: Ty Chandler
  • 9-foot-11: D’Vonte Price

The only one who missed the cut was Pacheco, who fell just one inch short of the benchmark. In the vertical jump, 34 inches (or above) is the number to hit.

  • 40 inches: Breece Hall
  • 36 inches: Pierre Strong
  • 34 inches: Kenneth Walker, D’Vonte Price

Establishing RB1

With the scores above, Walker and Hall established themselves as RB1 and RB2. By combining the three above measurables and their impressive game film, it’s safe to say both are complete running backs. Which of the two running backs comes off the board first will depend almost entirely on a team's preferences, because it’s too close to call which back is better.

Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, who most consider in the mix with this top group, didn’t run the 40-yard dash. In the other drills, Spiller only jumped 30 inches in the vertical and 9-foot-6 in the broad jump. He also failed to stand out in position skill drills, while both Walker and Hall looked sharp and decisive. He may be firmly behind them in the pecking order now.

With a solid backfield of returning players, it would be surprising to see the Detroit Lions use a high pick on a running back. But if the Lions were to elect to spend pick No. 34 on a back, Walker would be my choice, as he has been my RB1 all year.

Pierre Strong, South Dakota State, 5-foot-11 1⁄2, 202

If you read our Combine preview of the running backs group, you may have noticed that Strong made the list as the final entry:

Pierre Strong is a big-play threat—10 rushes over 50+ yards—who could develop into an RB1 with time. If you’re looking for a sleeper, this could be your guy.

Strong probably won’t be a sleeper anymore after producing the above scores and turning in a good performance in on-field drills. Smooth all day, Strong was decisive as a runner, showed burst, quick feet, and soft hands. There are still areas in which he needs to improve his game, but the former Jackrabbit has the ability to contribute on offense and special teams as a rookie and could lead a rotation with time.

D’Vonte Price, Florida International, 6-foot-1, 210

Here’s the crazy part about Price’s athletic performance: he managed to put up those freaky numbers even after adding 12 pounds since the Senior Bowl—where he was on the Lions’ coached roster.

Price is a bit of a project, but he is a big back with athleticism and burst. He is willing to pass block, and will be a special teams contributor. All of this will get him drafted and a chance to prove his value in an NFL camp.

Zamir White, Georgia, 6-foot-0, 214

White just missed qualifying in all three of the above categories, falling a half-inch short in the vertical jump. But for a player with multiple ACL injuries in his past, his overall numbers remain very impressive. In fact, I’d venture to predict that if he didn’t have those previous injuries, he’d be considered a top-five back in this class.

But alas, that injury history is there and it may end up dropping his stock. For a bigger back who runs with power, he still has very quick feet, and that stood out in Combine drills. If he gets positive medical clearance on his knees and is still hanging around at the right spot, he’d look good in Honolulu Blue.

Quick thoughts

James Cook (Georgia, 5-foot-11, 199) put up solid measurables, running a 4.42 40-yard dash, jumping 10-foot-4 in the broad and 33 inches in the vertical. He looked very smooth in his runs, showing quick feet and explosion. His best attributes are his contributions in the passing game, and he used them to put on a clinic in the on-field drills.

Kyren Williams (Notre Dame, 5-foot-9 14, 194) ran a disappointing 4.65 40-yard dash and was slightly below average in the jumping tests as well. But if you watched him in the drills, he looked solid, and his game film has a ton of plays that say he is a gamer. If he drops because of this time, the Lions should keep him on their radar, because his game-day performances say he is a top-five running back in this class.

Dameon Pierce (Florida, 5-foot-9 12, 218) is another back who will get overlooked after running a 4.59 40-yard-dash. He is a terrific contributor in the passing game though, looked shifty in Combine drills, and spent the Senior Bowl on the Lions’ coached roster. It’ll be worth watching to see if he slips into Day 3, because he could end up being a steal.

Jerrion Ealy (Mississippi, 5-foot-8, 190) didn’t run a blazing fast 40-yard dash (4.52 seconds) but he has solid explosion scores (34.5-inch vertical, 10-foot-8 broad jump) and showed sharp, decisive cuts in drills. He can wear a variety of hats, including operating as a return man.

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