NFL Draft: Player Comparisons for the 2022 Running Back Class

Based on production, athleticism, and draft equity, who do the top players in this class compare to from NFL history?

A lot goes into scouting NFL prospects.

Of course, exactly how much we can balance the value of film evaluation and statistics will forever remain an unsolvable debate.

However, we can much more easily leverage the quantifiable side of prospect evaluation to see which incoming NFL players are most similar to historical prospects.

That's why I built out player similarity scores to add to my draft model.

Now that we have 40-yard dash times for (most of) the 2022 NFL running back class that was invited to the NFL Combine, we can get a good feel for how each prospect comps to past prospects.

To clarify, these are based 0% on playstyle or how much a player reminds me of NFL players and 100% on measurable variables such as height, weight, draft equity (or expected draft equity for the incoming rookie class), breakout ages, weight-adjusted speed, and various production metrics from their collegiate careers.

Let's get to it.

Players are listed in order of their consensus big board rank via NFLMockDraftDatabase, which also acts as an estimation of their eventual draft slot in the comparison process. Players with a top-200 big board rank are included.

Breece Hall, Iowa State

Big Board Rank: 46

Rank Breece Hall Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Matt Forte 93.0%
2 Cam Akers 92.2%
3 Jonathan Taylor 90.2%
4 Adrian Peterson 90.0%
5 Steven Jackson 89.9%
6 Le'Veon Bell 89.4%
7 Rashaad Penny 88.7%
8 Dalvin Cook 88.3%
9 Derrick Henry 87.8%
10 Leonard Fournette 86.2%

Breece Hall is the closest thing to a complete package as we will find. His production metrics are all in the 65th percentile or better (and excluding the receiving only mark, he's in the 86th percentile or better). That's paired with better-than-average size and great athleticism (95th percentile). It's no wonder his comps look the way they do.

Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M

Big Board Rank: 48

Rank Isaiah Spiller Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 TJ Yeldon 91.9%
2 Eddie Lacy 91.6%
3 Miles Sanders 89.8%
4 Joe Mixon 89.4%
5 Sony Michel 88.8%
6 Kerryon Johnson 87.6%
7 Carlos Hyde 86.8%
8 Jeremy Hill 86.6%
9 Javonte Williams 86.4%
10 Melvin Gordon 86.0%

Isaiah Spiller has a few disappointing marks in terms of overall team production and rushing share, yet that's not enough to ding him too aggressively. That's because he's got a 99th-percentile breakout age and positive ratings in everything else that matters. He's an 88th-percentile prospect in my database, so while the big board has him close to Hall, my data sees a gap between the two.

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

Big Board Rank: 62

Rank Kenneth Walker III Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Bishop Sankey 88.0%
2 David Wilson 87.6%
3 Cam Akers 87.4%
4 Lamar Miller 87.0%
5 JK Dobbins 86.8%
6 Ronnie Hillman 86.2%
7 Jonathan Taylor 84.7%
8 Shonn Greene 84.6%
9 D'Onta Foreman 84.1%
10 Bryce Love 84.1%

The conversation around Kenneth Walker III's profile is going to be a lack of receiving work. He was responsible for just 5.8% of Michigan State's receptions as a max output. That's 10th-percentile receiving production. However, he posted a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, good for a 90th-percentile speed score, and he dominated overall production at Michigan State (an 84th-percentile yards per team attempt rate). Historically, weak receiving has been a red flag, so he's a fascinating prospect.

Kyren Williams, Notre Dame

Big Board Rank: 70

Rank Kyren Williams Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Ameer Abdullah 87.2%
2 Devin Singletary 86.7%
3 Dexter McCluster 85.3%
4 Ito Smith 84.9%
5 Giovani Bernard 83.7%
6 Ka'Deem Carey 83.6%
7 Isaiah Pead 83.6%
8 Duke Johnson 83.1%
9 Dion Lewis 82.8%
10 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 82.7%

Kyren Williams' 4.65-second 40-yard dash is pretty alarming even without any adjustments, but with his small size (5'9", 194 pounds), that's the lowest adjusted speed score in my database dating back to 2004. A small back with good receiving marks (82nd-percentile) and positive pass-blocking grades, Williams could have a third-down role in the NFL.

James Cook, Georgia

Big Board Rank: 83

Rank James Cook Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Damien Harris 87.6%
2 Darrynton Evans 86.9%
3 Kenyan Drake 85.9%
4 Miles Sanders 85.1%
5 Anthony McFarland Jr. 84.8%
6 Nyheim Hines 84.7%
7 Tony Pollard 82.5%
8 Zamir White 82.5%
9 Trey Sermon 82.2%
10 Justice Hill 81.6%

James Cook should fit in well with the modern NFL. His max rushing yards share puts him in the 3rd percentile in my database, but even as a bit player, he has a 43rd-percentile max receiving score. He's got an above-average adjusted speed score, as well. Expect an elusive, dynamic pass-catching option without a lot of rushing from Cook.

Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama

Big Board Rank: 88

Rank Brian Robinson Jr. Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Michael Bush 89.5%
2 Rhamondre Stevenson 88.0%
3 Javorius Allen 87.2%
4 Matt Jones 85.5%
5 Eddie Lacy 84.4%
6 Hassan Haskins 83.6%
7 CJ Prosise 83.3%
8 Jeremy Langford 82.9%
9 Joshua Kelley 82.4%
10 Karlos Williams 82.1%

The size (6'2", 225) is there for Brian Robinson Jr., and he has some of the fairly typical market share concerns coming out of Alabama. His rushing share is there (70th percentile) and is paired with 42nd-percentile receiving. His straight-line athleticism seems a little better than the film scouting suggests. He should be a viable short-yardage rusher, but let's not rule out the potential for more.

Zamir White, Georgia

Big Board Rank: 114

Rank Zamir White Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Kene Nwangwu 91.0%
2 Hassan Haskins 84.6%
3 Trey Sermon 84.5%
4 David Johnson 84.5%
5 Matt Jones 84.3%
6 Wayne Gallman 83.9%
7 Nyheim Hines 82.7%
8 Damien Harris 82.6%
9 Lamar Miller 82.5%
10 Dameon Pierce 82.1%

Zamir White has got good size (6'0", 214) and speed (89th-percentile adjusts speed score). The production itself is worrisome while he spent his collegiate career in timeshares and recovering from two ACL tears.

Dameon Pierce, Florida

Big Board Rank: 117

Rank Dameon Pierce Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Damien Harris 92.1%
2 Trey Sermon 86.3%
3 DeeJay Dallas 84.0%
4 Devonta Freeman 83.6%
5 Cameron Artis-Payne 83.2%
6 Matt Jones 82.8%
7 Wayne Gallman 82.8%
8 Tony Pollard 82.3%
9 Zamir White 82.1%
10 La'Mical Perine 81.9%

Dameon Pierce is thick (5'10" but 218 pounds). Everything else is pretty questionable, however. He doesn't have a red-flag-level worrying speed score (32nd percentile) but lacks production (he's got a high-water mark of the 16th percentile in any production metric I use).

Tyler Allgeier, BYU

Big Board Rank: 118

Rank Tyler Allgeier Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Joshua Kelley 90.6%
2 David Montgomery 89.6%
3 Zack Moss 89.2%
4 David Cobb 88.8%
5 Alexander Mattison 87.3%
6 Benny Snell Jr. 86.8%
7 Bilal Powell 85.9%
8 Chuba Hubbard 85.4%
9 Michael Bush 84.8%
10 Samaje Perine 84.7%

Tyler Allgeier has some really nice marks in his profile: rushing shares, total production, and yards per team attempt rates of the 71st percentile or better. He posted just average adjusted speed, but so long as you're not aggressively slow at running back, you're generally fine. There are some pretty decent names on this list.

Rachaad White, Arizona State

Big Board Rank: 135

Rank Rachaad White Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Jay Ajayi 86.0%
2 Devontae Booker 85.5%
3 CJ Prosise 83.8%
4 Mike Goodson 83.3%
5 Jeremy Langford 82.7%
6 David Cobb 82.4%
7 Kalen Ballage 82.3%
8 James Starks 81.2%
9 Rhamondre Stevenson 80.5%
10 Tony Pollard 80.4%

Arizona State back Rachaad White is going to be less of a film scout favorite and more of a data-centric favorite. He has an S-tier reception share (99th percentile) and plus adjusted speed (69th) while providing above average size, as well. Although he's a bit old and had a late breakout age, there are a lot of positive ticks in important checkboxes for White.

D'vonte Price, Florida International

Big Board Rank: 144

Rank D'vonte Price Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Chuba Hubbard 85.5%
2 Jerome Ford 84.3%
3 Pierre Strong Jr. 83.3%
4 Ryquell Armstead 82.3%
5 Bilal Powell 81.5%
6 James Starks 81.1%
7 Jeremy Langford 80.3%
8 Brian Hill 80.3%
9 Michael Bush 79.8%
10 Darius Jackson 79.8%

D'vonte Price clocked in with 4.34-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and adjusting that for his size, he's got an 89th-percentile athleticism score in my database. He's also around there in rushing share, overall team production, and yards per team attempt. Where Price lags is the receiving workload (27th percentile). There aren't many like him, historically, with green flags and red flags with little in between.

Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State

Big Board Rank: 146

Rank Pierre Strong Jr. Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Cyrus Gray 91.7%
2 Jerome Ford 91.5%
3 Wendell Smallwood 88.5%
4 Da'Rel Scott 87.2%
5 Jordan Scarlett 86.9%
6 Mike Gillislee 86.4%
7 Elijah Mitchell 86.2%
8 Ty Johnson 86.1%
9 Paul Perkins 85.9%
10 Ty Chandler 85.4%

Pierre Strong Jr.'s 4.37-second 40-yard dash is going to draw your attention, and at his size (5'11", 207 pounds) that puts him in the 88th percentile in adjusted speed. He had some good efficiency (62nd-percentile yards per team attempt stats), but everything else fell shy of the midway point for running back prospects. Overall, he's a 47th-percentile prospect in my model.

Hassan Haskins, Michigan

Big Board Rank: 148

Rank Hassan Haskins Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Qadree Ollison 90.1%
2 Wayne Gallman 87.8%
3 Matt Jones 87.5%
4 Jalen Parmele 86.6%
5 Kalen Ballage 86.1%
6 Karlos Williams 84.8%
7 Brian Robinson Jr. 84.4%
8 Zamir White 83.8%
9 Ryquell Armstead 83.5%
10 Jordan Howard 82.8%

If you're looking for size, you'll like the 6'2", 228-pound Hassan Haskins out of Michigan. He didn't run the 40 (or do many tests at the combine), and he has a 16th-percentile max reception share while having just one season as a true feature back for the Wolverines. Though it's not the most promising profile, fantasy potential in the right situation is there as a possible high-leverage back.

Tyler Badie, Missouri

Big Board Rank: 149

Rank Tyler Badie Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Jeremy McNichols 88.4%
2 Tyler Ervin 86.9%
3 Jacquizz Rodgers 86.6%
4 Aaron Jones 85.4%
5 Ito Smith 85.3%
6 Chris Rainey 84.9%
7 Darren Sproles 84.9%
8 Kerwynn Williams 83.5%
9 Kenneth Gainwell 83.5%
10 Jordan Todman 82.9%

Tyler Badie has a stark profile. He lags in size (sub-10th-percentile height and weight) and athleticism (43rd percentile) but is in the 89th percentile or better in rushing share, reception share, total production, and yards per team attempt. It's not a can't-miss profile, but the hits here -- Aaron Jones and Darren Sproles -- are pretty big hits.

C.J. Verdell, Oregon

Big Board Rank: 164

Rank C.J. Verdell Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Jerrion Ealy 91.9%
2 Dion Lewis 90.6%
3 Chris Thompson 88.5%
4 Michael Carter 86.1%
5 Joseph Randle 84.7%
6 Travis Homer 84.1%
7 Sincere McCormick 83.9%
8 Mark Walton 83.9%
9 Trayveon Williams 83.7%
10 LaRod Stephens-Howling 83.5%

The story of C.J. Verdell requires some context. He broke out in his age-19 season at Oregon but had his seasons derailed by injury since then. He didn't run the 40 at the combine and is small (5'8", 194 -- both 4th-percentile ratings in my model). His receiving workload is very promising and thus draws him some comps to other receiving-first backs.

Abram Smith, Baylor

Big Board Rank: 165

Rank Abram Smith Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Cameron Artis-Payne 90.0%
2 Jordan Wilkins 89.5%
3 Wayne Gallman 89.4%
4 Mike Gillislee 89.3%
5 Jordan Scarlett 88.3%
6 DeeJay Dallas 86.7%
7 Evan Royster 86.7%
8 ZaQuandre White 86.0%
9 Wendell Smallwood 85.9%
10 Jerome Ford 85.5%

Baylor's Abram Smith is a redshirt senior and already 23 years old. That should be factored into his evaluation. He was a fine rusher overall but lacked receiving work, which is probably expected, given that he transitioned from running back to linebacker and back to running back.

Snoop Conner, Mississippi

Big Board Rank: 166

Rank Snoop Conner Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Dameon Pierce 87.7%
2 Spencer Ware 87.0%
3 Devante Mays 86.3%
4 Cameron Artis-Payne 86.2%
5 Jordan Scarlett 85.4%
6 Mike James 85.2%
7 Jonathan Williams 85.1%
8 Damien Harris 84.5%
9 Chris Carson 83.7%
10 David Williams 83.5%

We saw Snoop Conner catapult in the big board rankings over Mississippi teammate Jerrion Ealy over the weekend. His 4.59-second 40-yard dash puts him exactly at a 100.0 adjusted speed score at his elevated weight of 222 pounds. The production wasn't there at Ole Miss, and that yields some underwhelming profile comps.

Jerome Ford, Cincinnati

Big Board Rank: 168

Rank Jerome Ford Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Dexter Williams 89.8%
2 Wendell Smallwood 89.1%
3 Mike Gillislee 88.9%
4 Pierre Strong Jr. 88.6%
5 Cyrus Gray 88.2%
6 Ty Johnson 88.0%
7 Jordan Scarlett 87.9%
8 Jalen Parmele 87.2%
9 Cameron Artis-Payne 86.8%
10 Vick Ballard 86.2%

The NFL Combine was kind to Jerome Ford, who posted a 4.46-second 40 time at a respectable size (5'10.5", 210), good for a 68th-percentile adjusted speed. He boasts better-than-average rushing shares and yards per team attempt rates in my database. The older breakout age and receiving shares are the knocks.

Jerrion Ealy, Mississippi

Big Board Rank: 185

Rank Jerrion Ealy Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Chris Thompson 89.9%
2 C.J. Verdell 87.8%
3 Dion Lewis 87.1%
4 Marcus Murphy 85.6%
5 Michael Carter 83.3%
6 Travis Homer 83.3%
7 Sincere McCormick 81.9%
8 Darwin Thompson 81.6%
9 Anthony McFarland Jr. 81.6%
10 Theo Riddick 81.4%

Jerrion Ealy has two things going for him: he has an early breakout age (19.0, 83rd percentile) and a good max reception share (12.2%, 64th-percentile). Everything else is below the 15th percentile, especially the size (5'8", 189).

ZaQuandre "Quan" White, South Carolina

Big Board Rank: 186

RankZaQuandre White Profile ComparisonsSimilarity
1Ty Johnson88.4%
2Storm Johnson87.1%
3Wendell Smallwood86.2%
4Evan Royster86.0%
5Mike Gillislee85.8%
6Abram Smith85.8%
7Mike James85.4%
8Tony Pollard85.4%
9Travis Homer85.0%
10Cyrus Gray84.9%

Quan White jumped into the top 200 after the combine, and I'm not really sure why, but here we are. He had a good receiving share in college (54th percentile) but a lack of anything else to get excited about.

Keaontay Ingram, USC

Big Board Rank: 191

Rank Keaontay Ingram Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Jalen Parmele 88.7%
2 Jordan Wilkins 85.6%
3 Qadree Ollison 85.5%
4 Daniel Lasco 85.0%
5 Dwayne Washington 84.7%
6 Chris Evans 83.8%
7 Jordan Howard 83.6%
8 Mike James 83.3%
9 Da'Rel Scott 83.0%
10 Ryquell Armstead 83.0%

Keaontay Ingram has NFL-ready size (6'0", 221) and good athleticism. He didn't miss too much of a beat as he transitioned from Texas to USC, but what I actually mean by that is that he held a pretty low reception share and yards per team attempt rate at both schools.

Zonovan "Bam" Knight, North Carolina State

Big Board Rank: 198

Rank Zonovan Knight Profile Comparisons Similarity
1 Kennedy Brooks 87.5%
2 Travis Homer 87.3%
3 Alex Collins 84.9%
4 Chris Evans 84.6%
5 Dexter Williams 83.5%
6 Evan Royster 83.3%
7 Paul Perkins 83.3%
8 Jonathan Williams 83.0%
9 Myles Gaskin 82.9%
10 Spencer Ware 82.1%

Zonovan Knight broke out early (18.4 years old) and has solid size (5'11", 209) but overall lacked big production scores anywhere. He also ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, which equates to a 20th-percentile adjusted speed. Usually, early breakouts without great production or athleticism perennially feel like breakout candidates but don't always flip the switch.