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2023 running back expectations breece hall

What We Can Expect from 2023 Running Back Class

  • Ryan Fowler
  • May 13, 2022
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From early down thumpers to pass-catching specialists, the 2022 class is one of the deepest classes for potential running back value. While we will have to wait four-to-five years down the road for most players to round into form and blossom into elite offensive weapons, there are some top rookie backs that could potentially speed up the process in their debut NFL campaign. Here is what we should expect of this year’s class.

Breece Hall, New York Jets 

After taking Michael Carter in last year’s draft, there were questions initially raised towards the pick. But if anything, the Jets will deploy two, youth-infused talents with fresh tread on their tires. A big-bodied back with the necessary burst to sneak through the second level, Hall’s film had flashes of both superstardom and times where he looked lost in translation, but competition breeds success and I personally expect Hall to progress into a nice offensive piece for the Jets’ young, exciting offensive core. 

Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

Similar to Hall and Carter in New York, Walker and Chris Carson will present a nice 1-2 punch for the Russell Wilson-less Seahawks offense. An extremely tough running back whose contact balance and agility will allow him to work into substantial snaps in his rookie season, Walker still has a ways to go in pass pro and will look to continue to improve as a pass-catcher in space, but he has the traits to evolve into a potential bellcow back down the road. 

James Cook, Buffalo Bills

For Bills Mafia, the selection of Cook was long overdue. It was a high asset used on a potential  game changing ball-carrier. The brother of Dalvin, James is by no means his brother from a skillset standpoint out of college but after losing out on the mini-J.D. McKissic sweepstakes in free agency, Cook has the potential to be a three-down back from day one. He’s my sleeper pick to gain the most yards from scrimmage of any first-year talent. 

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

His role right now looks up in the air with Leonard Fournette, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard all expected to remain in the fold, but White is a legit pass-catcher and should present another option through the air – at minimum – for Tom Brady. More options equals more headaches for opposing defenses to counter, and White is as shifty and sure-handed as any running back in the class. 

Tyrion Davis-Price, San Francisco 49ers

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan obviously has a plan for Davis-Price after taking him late on Day 2, but with Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, JaMycal Hast and Trey Sermon all expected to challenge for carries, his immediate projection remains muddy. Mitchell looks like a big-time ballplayer and although Sermon ended up in the doghouse early last fall, he was also a third-round pick. It would be shocking if he doesn’t end up with the fold alongside Mitchell and Wilson who totaled 79 carries in six games last fall. 

Brian Robinson, Washington Commanders

I’m not sure who owes a debt down to someone in Tuscaloosa, but the Crimson Tide to Commanders pipeline remains fruitful. With Antonio Gibson as their clear workhorse and J.D. McKissic back to provide a massive role in the passing game, Robinson was my top running back. Envisioning Scott Turner deploying a sustainable three-headed backfield could invite a much-needed challenge for snaps. If anything, the selection of Robinson should open the eyes of the Gibson who has committed his fair share of fumbles in his first few years in the league. While the common saying of “ball security is job security” remains true for ball-carriers at all levels of the game, Gibson has proven he can shine when given the necessary allotment of touches on the ground and through the air as a former wideout out of Memphis. If one thing has remained true during Rivera’s tenure, he loves adding competition and Robinson could surely take over ‘RB1’ duties if the former third-rounder in Gibson ends up on the shelf, or if his fumbling issues continue. This was a wake-up call from Rivera.

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

Entering the year with Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack just wasn’t feasible to field as an NFL franchise, and I’m glad second-year General Manager Nick Caserio added Pierce, one of the most competitive, alpha backs in the class. A physically imposing talent who can run both through and around you, Pierce was extremely underused during his time at Florida and Texans’ faithful should be extremely excited towards his potential both this year and in seasons to come. There hasn’t been much to be excited about in Houston over the last few seasons but with Pierce joining Derek Stingley Jr., Kenyon Green and Jalen Pitre in a headlining draft haul, the Texans are building the right way and Pierce will holster a massive workload for years to come. 

Isaiah Spiller, Los Angeles Chargers

Labeled a ‘downhill’ runner due to his stocky 217-pound frame, Spiller has the necessary wiggle and burst to create yards without space and was rarely ever seen falling backward when met with contact. That’s a trend that usually translates to positives at the game’s highest level. A powerful running back who I expect to break a healthy amount of tackles due to his low center of gravity, and seemingly even lower pad level, Spiller is a no nonsense back who wastes no time in identifying creases, sticking his foot in the dirt and getting north-south in a moment’s time. His nearly 3,000 yards rushing during his time at Texas A&M doesn’t hurt, either. He won’t be mistaken for Saquon Barkley with game-breaking speed, but taking down 215 pounds of man that can run you over in the blink of an eye is a tall task in open space, and that skillset working in tandem with Austin Ekeler will provide an awfully nice wrinkle to Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi’s play-call sheet come autumn.