Top Rookie RBs - 2019 NFL Draft Prospects (Post-NFL Combine)

by Nick Ercolano March 02, 2019 2 Comments

Top Rookie RBs - 2019 NFL Draft Prospects (Post-NFL Combine)

Today's video is going to cover the top rookie running backs in the 2019 NFL Draft. We're gonna give in-depth breakdowns of each guy, their draft spot projections, the best potential landing spot for them and what their 2019 fantasy football ceiling will be is they land there. We're going to break down their college production, some film, their combine performance and how it affected their draft stock, etc. And we've got some dope announcements about halfway through the video, so get freeking pumped, but stop yelling, tuck ya shirts in and lets get it.

The last few years have spoiled fantasy footballers like milk when it comes to running backs. If you had a first round dynasty pick in the top half of your rookie draft, there's a decent chance your team is rostering a top-15 fantasy back right now. If your teams needs a running back THIS year, you're in for it fam. This ain't the year to stream running backs. There's literally never a year for that, but you know what I'm saying. There are very few backs in this class that project to be a workhorse in the NFL. However, there are a bunch of teams that do have a need at running back, I have a list of nearly a third of the NFL that does: NYJ, OAK, TB, BUF, BAL, PHI, KC, MIA, CHI.

Of course, there'll be some guys that make an impact, but projecting them isn't easy, based on the lack of size, speed and overall workhorse production this year, but nonethemore, we must analyze the top rookie running backs for the 2019 NFL Draft Class:

1. Devin Singletary - Florida Atlantic University

Devin Singletary 40 timeDevin Singletary college stats

Player Comp: Kareem Hunt/LeSean McCoy

  • DEVIN PRINGLETARY - once u pop the fun don't stop G.
  • My favorite running back in this class, depending on the landing spot. 
  • Reminds me a lot of Kareem Hunt, not big or really fast, but great vision, balance, shiftiness. I'm predicting he finishes very high in Graham Barfield's yards created column this year. There are almost no plays I watched where he doesn't make the first guy miss, even if the defender's in the backfield when he takes the handoff. People say a good comp is Shady. I can actually see it. He's ridiculously slippery, but he doesn't have those flashy, ankle-breaking, lateral movements like Shady does, so people won't want to compare the two, but at the end of the day, he's almost as good in open space. Really excited to see his yards created data.
  • So the big elephant in the room is Singletary's combine results. Miserable. Fuck, was I upset when his 4.66 40-time flashed on the screen. But guess who else also had a 40-time in the 4.6's. Kareem Hunt (4.62). Because he's so good on his own right, I'm not worried about the 40-time. He plays far faster on the field in the game.
  • He's smaller, which will be the big knock on him, but an 86th % CD and he did cross the 55th % college target share which tells me he's a pass-catcher. He caught 26 passes in his freshman year, 19 the next. If you show me in a season that you can hit that number, I'm ready to roll, like Cee-Lo.
  • The size is absolutely a concern in terms of his ceiling, but hear me out, Kareem Hunt last year was the RB6 in fantasy before he got kicked, or kicked his way out of the league, he played in 10 games, he had more than 19 touches in just 3-of-10 games. He doesn't need 25 touches, a Zeke-type workload to be a beast, just the right situation.
  • He doesn't bounce runs outside, he stays inside despite his size, coaches in the NFL will like that.
  • Sure he's small, but he's handled 562 carries over the last two years (almost 22/game), for a total of 3,266 rushing yards and an incredible 54 rushing touchdowns. He also had over 1,000 rushing yards in all three seasons. That shows consistency, high-level of skill at a young age, that's what you want to see. Age-adjusted dominance.
  • Playing at FAU is obviously a concern for some. But the production is there, like it should be, and he tested as well as any of these major conference guys did. He played against Oklahoma, he had a good game. He tore apart the only national champs we recognize, Central Florida.
  • For fantasy, Singletary has legitimate top-15 RB upside. You put this man on the Kansas City Chiefs, I'm all in. If he ends up dropping to the 4th or 5th round, on a bad team, the outlook will change dramatically. He's my favorite prospect right now, though.

Draft Spot Projection: 3rd-4th Round

Best Landing Spot: Kansas City Chiefs

 

2. David Montgomery - Iowa State

David Montgomery 40 timeDavid Montgomery college stats

Player Comp: Doug Martin (at best)

  • A widely productive 3-year career in the Big 12 at Iowa State, racking up almost 3,000 rushing yards, 71 receptions, and 26 touchdowns, 24 of which came in his final two seasons.
  • Unlike most of the top backs in this year's class, Montgomery has the frame of a workhorse - 5'10, 222. But he's missing the other parts, which are far more important.
  • He clocked in with a 4.63 40, which is bleh. It's not surprising but not encouraging either. Big, long runs with breakaway speed aren't part of his game so I wasn't expecting a great 40.
  • The positives:
    • The workhorse size
    • The college production
    • Very smooth, natural pass-catcher, backed up by actual production, not random people on YouTube telling me to watch a pass he caught on a highlight reel - 58 catches over his sophomore/junior season. They had him lining up in the slot sometimes, big positive for me, giving him the 3-down workhorse potential.
    • Fantastic balance, can take hits and keep going, low center of gravity with thicc legs.
    • Very good wiggle, lateral agility is fantastic, can consistently make the first guy miss in the backfield.
    • Broke the PFF record with 100 broken tackles on 258 carries.
    • The not positives:
      • 4.7 ypc in college. huge red flag. That's not good at all, for someone who's supposed to be one of, if not the top prospect in the class. Idc what excuses you're going to make for him, 4.7 ypc over a 3-year, 624-carry sample size is bad in college.
      • His OL was definitely poor, so you can contribute some of that.
      • He ran almost exclusively from the shotgun, given Iowa State's style of offense. I believe this is huge for his success, because think of the type of player D-Mont is, lateral agility is there, so he can be patient, see the first guy coming from a few yards behind the line, make him miss and then go. If he goes to a place where he's running the majority of the time from under center, vision/burst are more important than lateral quickness, which Montgomery doesn't excel at.David Montgomery fantasy football
      • Naturally, teams that run from the shotgun often will be a good fit for him. NYJ have Adam Gase coming in, so you can go off of last year's MIA numbers. TB has Bruce Arians coming in, who I looked at 2017 and 2016 in ARZ and both of those offenses ranked dead last in terms of shotgun runs, probably not a good fit.
      • He didn't test for agility at the combine which is disappointing because I think that would've been his best test.
      • The biggest concern here is his athleticism - his long-speed and burst. He doesn't accelerate quickly once he makes his moves. And he can't break away for runs.

      Draft Spot Projection: 

      Best Landing Spot:

      3. Trayveon Williams - Texas A&M

       

      Trayveon Williams 40 timeTrayveon Williams college stats

      Player Comp: Gio Bernard/Devonta Freeman

      Good all-around athlete, burst, explosion, pass-catching ability. Runs more violent than his size suggests, like Freeman, less powerful though. Has more fluidity than Freeman does, better hips. 59% college target share. I don't think he's as elusive or really has that X factor like Freeman had, however. He looks good at times, but I don't see enough plays where I'm like, hmm, legit NFL back going to have success. His fantasy success is going to be highly dependent on his landing spot. I would actually love him on the Eagles. I don't think I want him somewhere that they try to use him as a horse, somewhere he can get 13-15 touches.

      Draft Spot Projection: 

      Best Landing Spot:

      4. Josh Jacobs - Alabama

      josh jacobs 40 time

      Player Comp: Mark Ingram

      • My overarching take on Jacobs is this: he's going to be over-drafted in both the NFL Draft and dynasty drafts. He's consistently mocked as the first back off the board, a lot of times in the first round, some ASSHOLE put him in the top 5. But, even if I don't think he's as talented as some people do, that type of draft pedigree will give him the easiest path to touches, which is something you simply cannot fade. rashaad penny is really the only first round RB in recent years that didn’t get legit work. 
      • He didn't test at the combine, he'll workout at his Pro Day I'm assuming, later this month.
      • ****find touch charts - average touches for the first-round rookie vs second-round rookie over last five (?) years*** it’s the most predictive/stickiest thing for production.
      • So why don't I love him? My player comp is Mark Ingram, his running style/size is similar, I'd even say Jacobs is probably shiftier than Ingram is. On film, Jacobs is a beast, no denying that. He's a north/south runner, but he can definitely get lateral.
      • The other thing I love is that they had him returning kicks which is a huge positive in my eyes. He had a punt return tug his freshman year, and last year he returned 14 kicks, one for a TD and avergaed over 30 yards/return. We've seen a ton of stand-out special teamers translate to successful NFL players as long as they're good at their actual position - Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Dante Pettis.
      • But I'm completely fading the words "flashes or "if he had more touches", etc. Flashes take out the enormous part of being successful in the NFL, consistency. Any player at Alabama or in the NFL can "flash" it's literally all they day, they're paid to be an athlete. Doesn't mean you can do that for 16 games. Jacobs hasn't done it for a full season at Alabama ever.
      • He has a career-total of 251 carries in three seasons, never more than the 120 he received in 2018, never surpassed 640 rushing yards in a season. Of their 15 games, he saw more than 15 carries one time and had 6 or fewer attempts in 9-of-15 (60%).... His YPC dipped to 5.3 in 2018, once his carry total increased. His college target share was only in the 19th percentile as well.
      • So you have no production/consistency to back up what everyone sees on film, that usually plays itself out over the long-run. 
      • Sure, he's splitting time with X, Y, Z, Damien Harris this year another draft prospect which could've led to the 120 carries this year. But when you look at the other guys Alabama have produced, that had 1st/2nd round pedigree and projected to have success in the NFL as a lead-back, Alabama knew what they had and fed them accordingly:
        • Derrick Henry: 406 touches (while Kenyan Drake was there)
        • T.J. Yeldon: 209 & 227 touches (while Henry & Drake were there)
        • Eddie Lacy: 226 touches (while Yeldon and Drake were there)
        • Mark Ingram: 180 touches (while T-Rich was there)
        • Trent Richardson: 312 touches (while Lacy was there)
      • So for him to have touch totals of 99, 60 and 140 in his time there is a big red flag to me.

        Draft Spot Projection: 1st-2nd Round

        Best Landing Spot: NO, PHI

        5. Justice Hill - Oklahoma State

        Justice Hill 40 timejustice hill college stats

        Player Comp: Marlon Mack

        Justice Hill is the running back that benefited MOST from the NFL Combine, it's not close. Everyone else looked like they were moving in slow-mo on the 40-yard dash. When I started watching film on Hill, the first thing I wrote on my paper was FAST... yuhh in all caps, and he didn't disappoint on the turf, running a 4.40 40-yard dash, putting him in the 80th percentile for WASS.

        Justice Hill was the only RB to fit this criterion on Sunday. It's wild that we're discussing guys like Justice Hill in the 2nd round when we had Nick Chubb and Derrius Guice go in the 2nd round last year, but nonethmore.

        So, we've established that Justice Hill is fast.

        Pros:

        • Natural pass-catcher (had 31 receptions his sophomore year) - that's what I look for, a solid mark in one of the years.
        • He had good rushing production in all three years at Oklahoma State, starting back as a freshman he ran for 1,142 yards. Backed it up with a 1,650 yard, 16TD szn in his sophomore year, he had a rib injury in his third year which left him short of 1,000 rushing yards, but overall really good production.
        • Now, my comparable player is Marlon Mack because he looks like Mack, and I said the same exact thing when I was evaluating Mack when he was a rookie, when you first see him, he looks more like a wide receiver, like just an athlete, not as much a running back. Long, lean limbs, not stocky like most guys.
        • dsd

        Cons:

        • Lmao he's gotta be the worst pass-blocker I've ever seen tbh.
        • I love The Draft Network, but their write-ups at him all said that they were pleasantly surprised with his pass-blocking, idk WTF film they possibly could've been watching, but they are wrong and that's a fact lol. Great effort, execution needs a ton of work. But I don't 
        • He gets very jumpy with his feet at the LOS, like he'll just unnecessarily run into the lineman's back sometimes. But that's alright, I'll take the good with the bad when you have a playmaker like Hill.
        • He doesn't have the build to be a workhorse. But I don't think teams will be looking to use him that way. He's not powerful, you don't want him to be the grinder.
        • You look at his raw size 5'10-198 isn't horrible, but that puts him a BMI of 28.4, which is in the 14th percentile of RBs, which wasn't a surprise if you just look at him on film, similar to Marlon Mack, who's in the 38th percentile for BMI.

        Unlike David Montgomery, Hill has great burst and think of what that means, it would be great for him to be on a team that runs from under center. Give him a few steps to get going, let him hit a hole and he's outty. This was to the detriment of Ronald Jones, however, last year. It was my exact analysis. He's a one-cut back with great burst, put him in an offense that doesn't open up big holes and he's going to struggle. Hill is better than Jones, and actually contributes in the passing game, so I'm not comparing the two, just helping paint the picture like mf Van Gogh.

        Draft Spot Projection: 2nd-3rd Round

        Best Landing Spot: OAK, CHI

        6. Miles Sanders - Penn State

        miles sanders 40 timemiles sanders college stats

        Player Comp:

        Sanders, like Hill, is another guy that greatly benefited from the combine. Like all these Penn State skill players, they all go off at the combine. I'll be honest, it was hard for me to get excited about Sanders when I watched the film. There were times he looked like JAG, other times he looked like a solid, complete back. We didn't get to see much of him since Sagawd Barkley was the guy there for the prior two years.

        Barkley caught 54 passes in 2017 at Penn State, Sanders dropped to 24 as the starting back in that offense. He's not big enough to be a fully featured back, so he needs to be a good pass-catcher, something to keep a very close eye on. Could have just been a weird year, Saquon only had 28 and 20 catches the two years prior to his final season, so. Sanders gets a little jumpy sometimes and looks to break it outside too quickly, but again, I don't really look too much into that when I'm looking at fantasy stuff. It could be a problem at the next level, only to the point that coaches might not want to keep stuffing him up the middle for 3 yards. Mike McCoy would probably be furious.

        Sanders tested as a good running back all-around though, a 4.49 40 putting him in the 75th % for WASS, 75th % for burst score too.

        Draft Spot Projection: 3rd-4th Round

        Best Landing Spot: PHI,

         

        Honorable Mentions 

        Darrell Henderson - Memphis
        5'8-208
        average over 8 ypc career, over 6 vs power 5 conferences still
        1st team All-American 2018 over 12 ypr
        Damien Harris - Alabama
        Rodney Anderson - Oklahoma 



          Nick Ercolano
          Nick Ercolano

          Author



          2 Responses

          Wade Hampton Peery
          Wade Hampton Peery

          March 02, 2019

          This is a really good write-up man. One of my favorites of yours. Thought it was interesting how you picked up on Montgomery’s success out of the shotgun. Just spot fucking on, FAM. Watch his high school highlights and I’m telling you, NICK WE NEED D-MONT in the WILDCAT. I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE. PLEASE. I’ve begged his trainer to tell coaches—WILDKITTY! His high school tape doesn’t lie—this guy would be a fucking disgusting Wildcat RB. Big. Facts. Only.

          Wade Hampton Peery
          Wade Hampton Peery

          March 02, 2019

          Rodney Anderson will be a fucking GOD in the NFL if he can stay healthy. That’s BIG. FACTS. ONLY.

          Leave a comment


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