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NFL Draft

Kenneth Gainwell: What To Know After Reported Opt Out

  • The Draft Network
  • August 30, 2020
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Memphis Tigers running back Kenneth Gainwell is reportedly opting out of the 2020 college football season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, according to 247 Sports.

Gainwell, a true dual-threat back, excelled last season for the Tigers. He finished with 1,459 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns on 231 carries in addition to his 51 catches for 610 yards and three touchdowns in the receiving game.

Here is what our scout Joe Marino had to say about Gainwell:

"A multifaceted running back, Gainwell features an exciting skill set that is perfect for today's NFL. He thrives as an inside and outside runner and his aggressive and violent style of running leads to considerable production after contact. He's also a fantastic route-runner with terrific hands that is a dynamic option as a receiver out of the backfield. A big-play threat, Gainwell had 37 plays of 15-plus yards last season which was the second most of any offensive player in the FBS in 2020, which is a testament to his creativity, burst, and elusiveness.

"The big question I had for Gainwell entering 2020 was if he could fill out his frame to complement his physical style. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds, Gainwell has plenty of room to add to his frame and the extra time to prepare for the draft process should afford him that opportunity. Gainwell has a chance to be one of the top-five running backs in the 2021 Draft and the focal point of an NFL backfield early in his career."

Earlier this month, notable names like Miami Hurricanes EDGE Greg RousseauPenn State Linebacker Micah ParsonsVirginia Tech CB Caleb FarleyMinnesota WR Rashod BatemanPurdue WR Rondale MoorePitt Panthers DL Jaylen TwymanMichigan OL Jalen MayfieldWake Forest WR Sage SurrattUSC DL Jay Tufele, and Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater opted out of the 2020 season with sights set on the 2021 NFL Draft or simply declared because their conference postponed the season. On Sunday, LSU standout WR Ja'Marr Chase's name was also added to that list.

Gainwell recently came in at No. 67 on the TDN Top 100 big board. Here are some excerpts from his scouting report. You can read the full report here.

PROS: Decisive ball carrier that is slippery and quick. He explodes through holes and attacks the line of scrimmage with confidence. Willing to lower his pads and challenge tacklers with physicality. Terrific lateral quickness and the ability to make dynamic cuts outside of his frame. Does well to keep his pads square. For a guy with his per/touch production, Gainwell is impressive with how consistent he is at “staying the course” and not getting overly creative when it’s not necessary.

CONS: Pass protection is something he will need to develop in. In Memphis’ spread offense, the Tigers frequently used 5-man protection and Gainwell rarely stayed in to block. 

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