It’s no secret that the 2019 running back class isn’t on the same level as the 2017 or 2018 classes but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad group. It is a more of deep class of guys that may never be stars but can contribute in specific roles.
However, I do think there are a few guys who could be 3 down studs and to find out who those guys are, you will have to read my rankings. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 running backs of the 2019 class!
10. Devin Singletarty, FAU: Devin Singletary is a fan favorite in this year’s class and once you watch his film, it’s easy to see why. His contact balance and elusive skills leap off the tape.
Unfortunately, his awful athletic testing really hurt his draft stock. Personally, I wasn’t expecting him to be a great athlete because he didn’t like one on tape, but I also didn’t think he would test this poorly either. That said, I don’t really see a path where he leads a team’s rushing attack, but he could productive as a complimentary option.
Grade: Late 3rd Round
9. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M: I wanted to like Trayveon Williams more than I do. Obviously, his burst, feet, and mentality in pass protection are easy to fall for, but he doesn’t really have a trump card in his skill set that he can rely on to create his own positive yardage. He isn’t super elusive or dynamic and is too small to be a true thumper between the tackles.
Here's the run from Trayveon Williams that set the Texas A&M record for most rushing yards in a single season. pic.twitter.com/R2S46nNKDb
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) January 1, 2019
That said, I like him in offense where the run game is second to the pass. Williams almost always maximizes what the defense/blocking gives him. So, he can be very effective with 10-15 carries a game. But, if I was drafting for a run first team that is looking for a true work hoarse, then Williams isn’t pushing the needle enough for me and I would look elsewhere.
Round Grade: 3rd Round
8. Damien Harris, Alabama: When you look in the dictionary for the definition of a “rock solid running back,” you will find Damien Harris. He is truly the “Sedan” of this RB class, not overly flashy but reliable. He is the “isn’t elite at anything but does everything well enough” type of back. Need more cliches to understand Harris’s game?
Damien Harris @DHx34 out of Alabama is someone I really like. 5’10” and is a absolute beast. A hard guy to bring down, great speed and great at reading holes. In 2018 he had 150 attempts for 876 yards. Averaged 5.8 per carry and earned 9 TDs. Someone will get a beast in 2 weeks. pic.twitter.com/a9JRjItWuf
— Danny King (@DannyKingNFL) April 12, 2019
Seriously though, Harris is as steady as you can get at running back and is a lot more explosive than people give him credit for. I think he is perfect as a complementary back in a 1st and 2nd down type of role. Sure, he might not have elite upside but can still be a productive pro for years to come.
Grade: Early 3rd Round
7. Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska: If you are looking for my sleeper of the group, then Devine Ozigbo is your guy. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network was the first and only major analyst to shed light on Ozigbo through out this pre-draft process. After I checked him out for myself, I instantly became a fan.
Nebraska RB Devine Ozigbo has got a little more in the open field than you'd expect from a 235 lb back. Look at how he finishes this run and the two missed tackles he creates in the process. pic.twitter.com/qmggTMWjZl
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) December 12, 2018
Ozigbo does not run like your typical 6’0 230 lb back. I say that because he is much more finesses than power. He possesses awesome lateral agility and change of direction skills that give him some nice wiggle and elusive ability. Also, his skill set translates well enough to the passing game to be a viable receiving option.
Now, he isn’t the most explosive back and I wish he ran a little meaner but I love the 3 down versatility that he offers. Which is why I am ultimately higher on him then most.
Grade: Late 2nd
6. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State: Justice Hill arguably has the best combination of burst and elusiveness in the class. I absolutely love him as a receiver out of the back field as well and believe that his collective skill set fits perfectly in today’s NFL.
Start off this here fine Sunday morning with some dynamic lateral cuts from Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill pic.twitter.com/S1DHvyBgz1
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) December 9, 2018
Some people can’t fully wrap their arms around Hill because he is sub 200 lbs and I am a bit troubled by that as well. However, if he isn’t leading your rushing attack and has more of a Tarik Cohen/Tevin Coleman type of role. I believe that he can hold up just fine and be a very productive player.
Round Grade: 2nd
5. Miles Sanders, Penn State: I found myself liking Miles Sanders more then most early in the pre-draft process. But ever since the combine, I feel myself shifting to other side of the spectrum.
Other than seeing break away speed this runs shows everything about the running style of Miles Sanders. Cut back ability, vision, balance, yards after contact.@BoobieMilesXXIV @ESFDD @EatSleepFF #PennState #NFL #NFLDraft #NFLDraft2019 @PennStateFball #NittanyLions #MilesSanders pic.twitter.com/ODF1Jv4vEl
— Steven Spaccarotelli (@sspac21) April 6, 2019
I say that because it seems like the public believes that he is a consensus top 2 back in the class and I have never been that high on him. I still like him a lot and believe he is one of the most well rounded backs in this class. I just have a hard time putting my finger on an elite trait of his that you can hang your hat on.
That said, I believe he will be a good to very good player at the pro level. Yet, I don’t see him ever being one of the best running backs in league.
4. David Montgomery, Iowa State: David Montgomery has some of the best contact balance I have ever seen. His ability to break tackles is truly second to none. But I wouldn’t be doing him any justice by labeling him as solely a power back. He also has natural feel for making defenders miss with with his short area quickness.
David Montgomery is a grown man pic.twitter.com/dTIVQNTEXf
— Joseph Nammour (@jnammour24) October 21, 2017
I wanted Montgomery to be higher in my rankings but vision issues and long speed limitations held him back. I still think he can be productive with these vision issues. So if he improves them, there is no telling how good he could be a the pro level.
3. Darrell Henderson, Memphis: Darrell Henderson is by far the best big play back in this class. He possesses that rare ability to hit the hole like a blur and go 70 yards to the house. Plus, he is an excellent receiver out of the back field and is very elusive for being a down hill runner.
Darrell Henderson’s vision, speed, and toughness, he’s something else, and another RB I love that’s part of this deep and talented class. 5-8, 210, 4.49 40, and he’s a junior and we love them. #HereWeGo #SteelersDraft https://t.co/vPPXyWlhZv pic.twitter.com/aEPnsALPYn
— Steel Legends (@Steel_Legends) April 9, 2019
Now, he is on the smaller side, so teams will have to weigh out how many carries they want to give him. However, his frame is a lot sturdier than his weight would indicate. Which is why I don’t think it will be that big of an issue. His size does limit his effectiveness as power runner though.
In summary, I love what Henderson offers as a 3 down back and a big play specialist. I don’t know if you want to give him 25 carries a game or solely rely him to lead your rushing attack. But he fits perfectly in a pass first offense, where he can be used in doses.
Grade: 2nd Round
2. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma: In terms of on field talent, Rodney Anderson has it all. The burst, vision, power, receiving ability, etc. are all evident on tape. But unfortunately, Anderson just hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
Rodney Anderson is really effing good. What a beautiful cut. Who is that QB hustling down there at the end? pic.twitter.com/bEeK4Ny4e6
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) November 25, 2017
He broke is leg in 2015, fractured his vertebrate in 2016, and tore his ACL in 2018. Because none of these injuries are reoccurring, they could be 3 freak injuries that have no correlation with each other. Or, they could all mean that he is fragile.
Regardless the reason, these injuries are going to cause him to fall in the draft as much as I hate to say it. But there is no doubt in my mind that he can be a productive 3 down work hoarse if he can stay healthy.
Round Grade: 2nd
1. Josh Jacobs, Alabama: Surprise! Josh Jacobs is RB1. I know I am probably the only person on the planet that has him as their top running back right?
Obviously, I am joking but what else is there to say about Jacobs that hasn’t been said. We all know he is the best pure power runner in the class, has great vision, is a heck of a pass protector, and can catch the ball out of the back field. Not to mention, he is pretty elusive in terms making defenders miss as well.
All of this being said, I don’t think he is this transcendent running back prospect that some are making him out to be. He isn’t even close to Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, Todd Gurley, or even Derrius Guice (as a prospect) in my opinion. I believe he is in more of that Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, and Kerryon Johnson tier, which is still really good and a tier above most of the backs in this class.
Round Grade: Early 2nd