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2021 NFL DRAFT: Running Back Rankings

@zackzander ranks his top 25 running backs for the 2021 NFL Draft, gives strengths, weaknesses, and his pro comparison for each player.

The 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us, and as always the running back position is the most intriguing for fantasy managers. The last 12 months have brought us opt outs, no combine, and over analyzed pro days. Player film has never been more important, and I dive deep into each prospects full archive of tape. Each running back has strengths and weaknesses that I identify from tape. After I rank each running back, I separated by tier, and give each player my NFL pro comparison.

TIER 1

1. Travis Etienne-Clemson

Strengths: Speed, acceleration, run after the catch.

Weaknesses: Vision, and footwork.

Pro Comparison- Clinton Portis

2. Najee Harris-Alabama

Strengths: Footwork, vision, contact balance, and receiving.

Weakness: Speed

Pro Comparison- Steven Jackson

Credit: CBSSports.com

3. Javonte Williams-North Carolina

Strengths: Contact balance, receiving, and lateral quickness.

Weaknesses: Speed, and acceleration.

Pro Comparison- James Robinson

Credit: NewsObserver.com

TIER 2

4. Kenneth Gainwell-Memphis

Strengths: Acceleration, elusiveness, and receiving

Weaknesses: Lower body strength and vision.

Pro Comparison- Jerrick Mckinnon

Credit: withthefirstpick.com

5. Jermar Jefferson-Oregon State

Strengths: Speed, and acceleration.

Weaknesses: Vision, and contact balance.

Pro Comparison- Damien Williams

6. Chuba Hubbard-Oklahoma State

Strengths: Speed, and acceleration.

Weaknesses: Vision, and lateral quickness.

Pro Comparison- Tevin Coleman

TIER 3

7. Javian Hawkins-Louisville

Strengths: Lateral quickness, acceleration, speed.

Weaknesses: Size, and lower body strength.

Pro Comparison- Phillip Lindsay

Credit: bigredlouie.com

8. Michael Carter-North Carolina

Strengths: Elusiveness, and agility.

Weaknesses: Size and speed.

Pro Comparison- Duke Johnson

9. Kylin Hill-Mississippi State

Strengths: Football IQ, and durability.

Weakness: none

Pro Comparison- T.J. Yeldon

10. Jaret Patterson-Buffalo

Strengths: Lower body strength, and elusiveness.

Weaknesses: Size and acceleration.

Pro Comparison- Devin Singletary

11. Trey Sermon-Ohio State

Strength: Evading tackle

Weaknesses: Acceleration, and durability.

Pro Comparison- Chris Ivory

Credit: PFF.com

12. Elijah Mitchell-Louisiana

Strengths: Acceleration and vision.

Weakness: Lower body strength.

Pro Comparison- Chase Edmunds

TIER 4

13. Larry Rountree III-Missouri

Strengths: Balance, and lower body strength.

Weaknesses: Speed, and acceleration.

Pro Comparison- Peyton Barber

14. Khalil Herbert-Virginia Tech

Strengths: Acceleration, and agility.

Weaknesses: Lower body strength, and vision.

Pro Comparison- Salvon Ahmed

15. Chris Evans-Michigan

Strengths: Acceleration and contact balance.

Weaknesses: Vision, and receiving.

Pro Comparison- Wayne Gallman

16. Pooka Williams-Kansas

Strengths: Speed, and acceleration.

Weaknesses: Size, and strength.

Pro Comparison- D’Anthony Thomas

17. Rhamondre Stevenson-Oklahoma

Strengths: Size, and contact balance.

Weaknesses: Agility, and acceleration.

Pro Comparison- Benny Snell

18. CJ Marable-Coastal Carolina

Strengths: Agility, and receiving.

Weaknesses: Size, and lower body strength.

Pro Comparison- Ameer Abdullah

TIER 5

19. Trey Ragas-Louisiana

Strength: Contact balance

Weaknesses: Agility, and receiving.

Pro Comparison- Royce Freeman

20. Deon Jackson-Duke

Strengths: Acceleration, and receiving.

Weaknesses: Vision and contact balance.

Pro Comparison- Ryquell Armstead

21. Brenden Knox-Marshall

Strengths: Size, and lower body strength.

Weaknesses Acceleration, and agility.

Pro Comparison- Rod Smith

22. Rakeem Boyd-Arkansas

Strengths: Contact balance

Weaknesses: Upper body strength, and speed.

Pro Comparison- Jordan Wilkins

23. Spencer Brown-UAB

Strengths: Contact balance, and lower body strength.

Weaknesses: Agility, and acceleration.

Pro Comparison- Malcom Brown

24. Jake Funk-Maryland

Strength: Contact balance

Weakness: Agility

Pro Comparison- Zach Zenner

25. Asim Rose-Kentucky

Strength: Speed

Weaknesses: Vision, and receiving.

Pro Comparison- Mike Boone

Overview

As a whole this running back class is considered weak, and reminds me of the 2019 class a lot. The top 3 running back are legit and will all have productive NFL careers. After that I see runnings backs with talent but also flaws that will limit their production. My tier one, and tier two running backs are not close in terms of talent. After tier three the talent pool simply dries up, and tier four, and five will clog your roster more than help it. Of course there are always dart throws in each rookie draft, but all in all you need to go all out for the top tier, or pivot to another position.

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