Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller may be the most dynamic running back in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Spiller was electric all throughout 2021 en route to compiling 1,011 rushing yards in 12 starts in the extremely difficult and competitive SEC. Spiller's combination of size, vision, and power makes him a nightmare for would-be tacklers. A former Under Armor All-American that's been performing on the big stage for several years now, Spiller possesses a dazzling skill set that blends physicality with elusiveness. He has every tool and trait to become an elite offensive weapon at the next level. Whichever NFL team drafts him will be getting a three-down bell-cow that can transform their offense. Spiller recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his well-rounded skill set, why he loves initiating contact as a running back, his versatility as a weapon in the passing game, why playing at Texas A&M and in the SEC helped prepare him for the next level, the special bond he shares with his father, and so much more. JM: You’ve been on the NFL draft radar for several years now, and your time has finally marked its arrival. How are you feeling about your progress at this point in the process? IS: We’re satisfied with the process so far. I’ve been working out extremely hard in California all throughout this timeframe. I feel like what I achieved at Texas A&M has really propelled me and prepared me for this moment. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I can’t wait for what comes next. JM: One of the things that jump out about your skill set on tape is your ability to display the necessary vision before showcasing great burst through the hole. How did you become such a patient runner? IS: I watch a lot of football. I love watching film on running backs. I always felt like I had a high-level understanding of our system and scheme at A&M. I felt great about the plays and the playbook. I enjoyed allowing time for my blocks to get set up. All of those things helped me become a more patient runner. I trusted my offensive line to execute their blocks. I’ve learned that skill going all the way back to high school, and it continued to take the necessary steps forward at A&M. JM: You talked about watching a lot of football and it shows on tape. You’re such a unique playmaker. I’m curious as to which running backs you admired growing up. IS: I really admire Adrian Peterson. He’s the reason why I wear No. 28 on my jersey. He really inspired me to play football. Watching the way he runs always felt like an exciting adventure to me. I try to model my game after his. I try to implement things he did with the football in his hands into my game and skill set. Le’Veon Bell is another running back I’ve always loved watching. Those two guys come to mind. JM: Those are two great ball-carriers to learn from. You ran for more than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in 2021. How do you reflect on your final season at Texas A&M? IS: I feel like I had a great final season. We unfortunately didn’t accomplish everything we wanted to accomplish as a team, though. I feel like I ultimately left A&M a better football player than when I arrived. I also left the program in a better state. I’m proud of what we did for the culture. Texas A&M is in a great place. The program will continue to get better from here on out. JM: You recorded 74 receptions in three seasons. Today’s NFL is all about running backs that can catch the ball. How important is that versatility, and how did you hone in on that skill set? IS: I practice catching the football every single day. I love hitting the JUGS machine. I run routes and catch the football every day. It’s an important part of my game. I’ve always wanted to become more comfortable with catching the ball because I’ve always known that it’s extremely important at the next level. You need to be a versatile playmaker in order to succeed in the NFL. Catching the football further maximizes my ability. I’m trying to show all 32 teams that I can do it all as a running back. JM: You’ve done that and more. How do you think being a high-level performer in the SEC helped get you ready for the next level? IS: Playing in the SEC prepared me for the competition of what comes next. I was a consistent playmaker in the SEC for three productive seasons. I think I’m ready for the league. I’m ready to tackle that challenge head-on. I’m ready to prove that I can continue producing at the same rate we’ve come to expect of me. JM: Furthermore, how did Texas A&M’s scheme help prepare you for the NFL? IS: The scheme helped prepare me in so many different ways. Coach Jimbo Fisher runs a pro-style offense. I felt like a lot of NFL teams have similar philosophies and beliefs in common with coach Fisher. I think that’s been extremely valuable to me up until this point in the process. I understand the blocks and the route tree. I understood how everything was supposed to be blocked and executed in our offense. Coach Fisher helped me take giant steps forward in those departments. JM: Coach Fisher is one of the greats. You don’t shy away from contact. You finish runs with excellent power. I can’t say the same about every running back I scout. How did you develop that mentality? IS: Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always had this competitive nature about me. My dad instilled that in me. I’m a winner first and foremost. I hate losing. I go out there with aggression. I always put my best foot forward. I need to give it my all every single day. I’m really in it for my team. That’s why I give it my all and go hard on every play. JM: Your aggression pops on tape. Speaking of your father, much has been made of his journey in athletics and the special bond you share with him. You just touched on that briefly. What’s the biggest lesson he’s ever taught you? IS: He taught me to control the things I can control while letting go of everything else. I feel like I’ve always wisely taken charge of the things that are actually within my control throughout this process. I’ve been well-prepared for this process. I’m working hard. I can control how I attack every single day in search of improvement. I control my willingness to put in extra work. I’m staying the course and trusting the process. That’s what he taught me. I don’t allow the outside noise to bother me or sway my mindset. Those things have really helped me throughout this pre-draft period. I’m so grateful for my father’s wisdom, love, and support. JM: He sounds like a special person. What do you feel are the most important traits a running back must possess? IS: Vision is an extremely important trait. You have to be able to make defenders miss in the open field. You have to evade would-be tacklers. We’ve already touched on the importance of catching the football in today’s league. You also have to be able to protect the quarterback in pass protection. You have to stick your neck out there and show toughness if you want to be a three-down player. Those are some traits that are extremely important if you want to succeed as a running back in today’s NFL. JM: You listed some crucial traits. What is it about your game that allows you to string together moves in the open field so effortlessly? IS: I’ve always worked on that aspect of my game. It goes back to my appreciation for watching film on how my upcoming opponents like to tackle. I pay close attention to their tendencies as tacklers and how they play the game in general. Those habits have really helped me in the past. It’s all about playing great situational football. Those are the traits that help you react in the moment. I have a lot of natural ability as well (laughs). It’s something I’m blessed to be able to do at the end of the day. It comes naturally to me. JM: There’s no denying that. I’m going to put you in a scenario I enjoy putting running backs in. Which do you prefer, a 75-yard touchdown run, or carrying the ball six-plus times on a long scoring drive? IS: I would take the six carries option. I enjoy beating the defense down and wearing them out. I enjoy punishing defenses. When our next drive comes, I’ll probably break off that 75-yard touchdown run because I wore them down on the previous drive (laughs). I’ll definitely take the option that allows me to touch the ball six times on a single drive. JM: I feel like you find a loophole to achieve both and I respect it (laughs). What can running behind a guy like Kenyon Green do for a running back? IS: It was extremely encouraging to have him out there and in my corner. He’s a steadying presence. He was my roommate all throughout college, by the way. We know each other really well. He’s like a brother to me. Having him there meant the world to me. I always trusted that he was going to do his job at an extremely effective level. He’s a great player and a great athlete. I loved having him there. I can’t wait to see where he ends up in the draft. JM: He’s a special talent. If you could take a handoff from one quarterback in the NFL, who would you choose and why? IS: I would probably choose Aaron Rodgers. He’s always been my favorite quarterback. I’ve always loved watching him play the game. I would definitely choose him. JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today. I feel like this conversation has highlighted why you’re one of the few elite ball-carriers in this draft class. What kind of impact is Isaiah Spiller going to make at the next level? IS: I’m going to make a big impact on the league during my rookie season. I have all of the intangibles to make an immediate and sizable instant impact. That’s my plan. That’s the goal right now. That’s where my head’s at. I’m going to stay true to my word.
- May 16, 2022
- May 16, 2022