After looking at quarterbacks last time, we transition to the top three running backs in the NFL draft. Running backs are generally not valued, therefore many running backs aren’t picked in the first round. Despite them being undervalued, running backs still have massive impacts on their team’s offensive.
Looking at last year’s draft, James Robinson and Jonathan Taylor were important for their team to succeed offensively, but they weren’t the top running backs taken. Well, who are the top running backs in this year’s draft? Let’s find out. Here are the top three running backs in the NFL draft.
Top Three Running Backs in the NFL Draft
1. Najee Harris
The best running back of the top three running backs in the NFL draft is Najee Harris. Before the college football season, Najee Harris was predicted to be a top-five running back, but not the first one overall. After this season, he has proved his value and his worth.
He was a crucial part of Alabama’s offense in their journey to winning another National Championship. He stepped in key games for Alabama. In the SEC Championship, Rose Bowl, and CFB championship, he rushed for a total of 382 yards, along with a mindblowing eight total touchdowns.
Before these important games, Najee Harris was also phenomenal. In the regular season, he had 1,466 rushing yards which were third among all college running backs. He also had 5.8 yards per carry and led all running backs with 26 total touchdowns. Many scouts wanted Najee Harris to be more than just a rusher, and he did just that as he had 425 receiving yards while 176 of those came in the three most important games of Alabama’s season.
Aside from his statistics, Najee Harris is a well-built running back at 6′ 2″, 230 pounds. His size helps him muscle through defenders and is a reason for many people to compare him to former Alabama alumni and NFL superstar, Derrick Henry. Though Derrick Henry is a better rusher overall, Najee Harris is a better pass catcher and is more athletic.
Najee Harris is an athletic pass-catching back, that also runs like a truck. He has great vision, is a leader, is experienced, and most importantly he steps up in pressure-filled games. He is well-deserving of the number one ranking amongst running backs and should be drafted in the late first round.
2. Travis Etienne
The second running back of the top three running backs in the NFL draft is Travis Etienne. This past season, Etienne suffered a drop in his draft stock due to inconsistent performances. Despite this, Etienne is still one of the best running backs available in this draft.
In four full college seasons, Etienne had an impressive, 4,952 rushing yards, while averaging 7.2 yards per carry. Additionally, he had 70 rushing touchdowns. Etienne has great athleticism, great vision, and is able to cut quickly, allowing for greater yardage gains. He also has great acceleration and agility.
Although Etienne is a proven runner, his most fascinating traits come on the receiving side. Etienne is one of the best pass-catching backs in this year’s draft. In his last two seasons, Etienne had a total of 1,020 receiving yards. To go along with this, he averaged 11.3 yards per receptions, which meant he was a key to getting first rounds.
With his great vision, explosiveness, athleticism, and pass-catching ability, some comparisons to him are the likes of Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, or Dalvin Cook. These running backs, who are all so valuable to teams, are just playmakers. In other words, Travis Etienne is an offensive weapon.
Travis Etienne has so many skills of a modern-day running back and he is very talented. With that in mind, Etienne probably won’t go in the first round, but he shouldn’t be passed upon in the second round. If all goes well, Etienne can become one of the top offensive playmakers in the league for many years to come.
3. Kenneth Gainwell
The final running back of the top three running backs in the NFL draft is Kenneth Gainwell. Gainwell isn’t as well-known as the running backs listed above because he played for a smaller school in Memphis. Make no mistake, even though he went to a smaller school, he is an outrageously good player.
Gainwell did opt out of this past season, so he has only played one full college season, but he made the most out of it. In that season, he had 1,459 rushing yards, 610 receiving yards, and 16 total touchdowns. Gainwell was an electric playmaker. Like Etienne, Gainwell can easily be compared to the NFL’s top receiving backs, but a better comparison for Gainwell is Tarik Cohen.
Gainwell is on the smaller side, but he has many other skills that make up for it. He is so quick, he is explosive, has good vision, and can make defenders look foolish. Also, as seen in the statistics, Gainwell is also a very good receiving threat. With that in mind, many times throughout his career he was uncoverable.
Gainwell has all the traits and skills that are desired by general managers. He is a dangerous weapon and can reach his full potential, with a coach that is an offensive genius. A versatile, athletic player is one that can’t be forgotten about. Therefore, though he might not be taken in the second round, teams have to seriously consider the idea of taking him in the third round.