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Nick Whalen
Post-Draft RB Rankings

Nick Whalen provides his Post-Draft RB Rankings. Some rankings may surprise you!

May 5th

Whew, what an NFL Draft! I had many jaw dropping reactions in the first round and it continued throughout the entire three days. Which is exactly why I love it! One important thing to remember is NFL teams are picking players to fit certain roles on their teams. They aren’t picking players to put up statistics or for fantasy football purposes. This is why our rankings and expectations rarely match what happens in the draft both before and after the event. Therefore, I’m going to be transparent with my post draft rankings as I adjust to account for what NFL teams said about prospects.

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Pre-Draft RB Rankings

#Name | College Team
1Darrell Henderson | Memphis
2Damien Harris | Alabama
3Joshua Jacobs | Alabama
4Miles Sanders | Penn State
5Dexter Williams | Notre Dame
6David Montgomery | Iowa State
7Rodney Anderson | Oklahoma
8Devin Singletary | Florida Atlantic
9Mike Weber | Ohio State
10Travis Homer | Miami
11Alex Barnes | Kansas State
12Alexander Mattison | Boise State
13Trayveon Williams | Texas A&M
14Bryce Love | Stanford
15Justice Hill | Oklahoma State
16Elijah Holyfield | Georgia
17Bruce Anderson | North Dakota State
18Devine Ozigbo | Nebraska
19Benny Snell | Kentucky

Running backs went very different from my rankings, but that wasn’t a surprise to me. I knew I was higher on many players than the consensus and likely the NFL.

2019 Post-Draft RB Rankings

#Name | NFL Team
1Joshua Jacobs | Oakland
2Miles Sanders | Philadelphia
3David Montgomery | Chicago
4Darrell Henderson | LA Rams
5Devin Singletary | Buffalo
6Dexter Williams | Green Bay
7Damien Harris | New England
8Alexander Mattison | Minnesota
9Ryquell Armstead | Jacksonville
10Justice Hill | Baltimore
11Rodney Anderson | Cincinnati
12Mike Weber | Dallas
13Trayveon Williams | Cincinnati
14Qadree Ollison | Atlanta
15Jordan Scarlett | Carolina
16Bryce Love | Washington
17Bruce Anderson | Tampa Bay
18Darwin Thompson | Kansas City
19Benny Snell | Pittsburgh
20Alex Barnes | Tennessee
21Devine Ozigbo | New Orleans
22Myles Gaskin | Miami
23Elijah Holyfield | Carolina
24Damerea Crockett | Houston

Tier 1

I was hesitant about Joshua Jacobs due to his vision, speed, injury history, and lack of production. But Oakland taking him in round one makes this an easy decision.

Tier 2

Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, and Darrell Henderson are tier two. Two of which are perceived to be starters. However, Philly has used committees in the past, Chicago has Tarik Cohen and signed Mike Davis. Then Henderson takes a tumble based on landing on a team that utilizes it’s FF RBs well but has to contend with Todd Gurley.

Tier 3

Devin Singletary, Dexter Williams, and Damien Harris makeup this tier. They’re all talented RBs who could have a FF impact. All have competition for touches, but no elite players ahead of them.

1) Joshua Jacobs – Oakland Raiders – Round 1 Pick 24

Much to my surprise, Jacobs was actually picked in the first round. Based on opportunity, he has to move up rankings. Oakland’s offensive line used to be amazing, but they’ve regressed and didn’t perform well last season. Gruden historically has given lots of touches when he trusts his main back. Otherwise, he’ll divide them out. One fear with Jacobs is Jalen Richard having 61 receptions in 2018 and maintaining that role in the offense. Jacobs must show he can carry a full workload, stay healthy, and show better vision.

His FF upside is in the low end RB2 range.

2) Miles Sanders – Philadelphia – Round 2 Pick 53

Sanders was the only RB taken in the second round and earned a bump up in my rankings. His landing spot in Philadelphia has mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s an offense that has one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. They drafted Andre Dillard in the first round to help with their only hole in that unit and should continue their dominance. But the Eagles also like to use many different player at RB and it leaves me hesitant about the type of volume for Sanders. He’s a three down back with good athleticism and balance. Philadelphia traded for Jordan Howard and still has Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, and Boston Scott at the position. 2019 might not have a huge ceiling, but 2020 and beyond should be better for Sanders.

Low end RB2 is what I see for his future.

3) David Montgomery – Chicago – Round 3 Pick 73

As a Bears fan, I was excited about the possibility of them taking a RB. Most importantly, I wanted a dynamic RB to threaten defenses. That was the reasoning behind trading away Jordan Howard. I wanted Darrell Henderson, badly! Disappointed he was taken by the Rams. When Chicago traded up to pick 73, I said “anybody but David Montgomery.” Of course, they select him and I’m struggling with the rational. Is Montgomery more dynamic than Howard? Yes. But they have similar speed and burst. Howard had better vision, Montgomery better agility and hands. Both have good power and contact balance.

Chicago already has Tarik Cohen, who will dominate the receptions from this backfield. Mike Davis was signed because he’s a threat both as a receiver and runner. Due to Chicago trading up for Montgomery, one is safe to assume they will utilize him. Howard had 250 carries in 2018, but finished as RB26 in PPR. The other thing to consider is Chicago does a lot of unique things near the goalline, which reduces the impact of a RB. These range from jet sweeps to shovel passes to RB passes to Mitch Trubisky runs to passes to defenders and offensive lineman.

Montgomery will get touches and an opportunity, but I don’t believe he has RB1 potential.

4) Darrell Henderson – LA Rams – Round 3 Pick 70

Henderson was my top RB before the draft, but he had to get moved down due to landing spot. Don’t get me wrong, the Rams are a great landing spot because of how much they focus on usage of their RB. The problem is they have one of the best running backs in the world in Todd Gurley. Now the injuries and rumors are swirling even larger about Gurley’s knee now that the Rams spent a 3rd round pick on Henderson. But either way it means two things: 1) Henderson won’t be an immediate starter unless Gurley can’t play football again. 2) This will continue to be the case until 2021 when Gurley could be cut for a $8.4 million cap hit.

Henderson’s skill set is perfect with the Rams. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, be a threat in space and run between the tackles. From press conferences of the Rams, it sounds like they really wanted to add another element to the offense to compliment Gurley. Similar to what they tried to do years ago with Lance Dunbar. McVay uses his weapons and puts them in positions to thrive.

How many touches will he get? Sounds like they’re have a role for him, but more as a change of pace and be able to line up as a receiver too.

5) Devin Singletary – Buffalo – Round 3 Pick 74

Singletary going to Buffalo is very interesting because it’s difficult to figure out what they’re doing there. Shady McCoy is slowing down, but then they signed Frank Gore and TJ Yeldon to have the most experienced backfield in the NFL. A little surprising to see them draft a RB that lacks athleticism. Is Singletary the slowest RB in that room? All of them are probably 4.6-4.7 type of players at this point in their careers. Opportunity is there for Singletary because none of them are elite talents anymore. But he can learn from some of the best running backs in recent memory. Buffalo possesses one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. They added Cody Ford in the second round, which will help.

It’s tough to see this running game taking off or setting up Singletary with big rushing lanes anytime soon.

6) Dexter Williams – Green Bay – Round 6 Pick 194

Surprised I have Dexter Williams at #6? Me too! But after looking at the talent and landing spots, Williams has the best chance to make a FF impact. The community loves Aaron Jones and his potential. However, Jones carries some risk due to three knee injuries and a hamstring injury the last two years. He was also suspended two games to start the 2018 season. Jamaal Williams has been very inefficient the last two years and shouldn’t be a difficult player to surpass. The other angle is Green Bay has had a change in leadership. The current GM wasn’t the GM when Jones and Williams were drafted. The new HC wasn’t around for those picks and may have preferred Dexter.

Picking Dexter Williams earlier is a gamble, but the players in front of him at the position aren’t as stable as where other RBs in this 2019 class have landed. I like Dexter’s athleticism, power, and ability to make big plays. He’s a bit of a risky player himself with being a late bloomer and he was suspended at Notre Dame in 2018 too. Green Bay possesses a top 10 offensive line that also just added a second round interior OL to help as well. The opportunity awaits for someone here.

7) Damien Harris – New England – Round 3 Pick 87

Really didn’t see New England drafting a RB early with James White being under contract for two more years, Rex Burkhead for at least one more year, and drafting Sony Michel in the first round last year. But nobody can predict Bill Belichick and he pulled the trigger on Harris, who is a player I’m very high on. The 2016 and 2017 version of Harris would’ve been a more highly regarded prospect than the injured 2018 version. Harris is a complete player, unlike Michel, and may be groomed for a 3rd down role after James White leaves. Harris is a player I will look to target late in the 2019 season to see if owners have given up on him. Year in and year out the Patriots have good offensive line, but the committee of running backs makes it difficult to project FF production. When Belichick has a good RB he rides them, hopefully Harris can separate at some point in his career.

8) Alexander Mattison – Minnesota- Round 3 Pick 102

Mattison went much higher than I expected in the draft. He jumped up the rankings because he will see immediate opportunity behind Dalvin Cook due to a lack of competition with Latavius Murray leaving in free agency. Mattison is solid at most things, but great at not one trait. He’s young, but lacks a huge ceiling. However at this point in the rankings, opportunity is key. Cook hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy during this two years with the Vikings. In fact, he’s played in 15 of a possible 32 regular season games. The Vikings spending good draft capital on Mattison is telling. Still 20 years old, Mattison has the ability to improve more than most backs in this class and possesses good size. The difficult part with Minnesota is their offensive line is poor. They added some pieces in the draft, but i’m not sure if will allow for big rushing lanes in 2019.

9) Ryquell Armstead – Jacksonville – Round 5 140

Armstead was a surprising pick in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, but Jacksonville needed to add another RB with the issues they’re having with Leonard Fournette and TJ Yeldon leaving in free agency. Armstead is more of a two down back who struggles as a pass protector and receiver. Tested out well at the combine and shows solid interior rushing skills. The rest of the Jaguars backfield is Alfred Blue, Thomas Rawls, Benny Cunningham, and David Williams. The offensive line was injured and not good in 2018. They added Jawaan Taylor in the 2nd round and Nick Foles at quarterback. Lots of moving parts on this offense, but Leonard Fournette’s health and attitude will be a big focus.

10) Justice Hill – Baltimore – Round 4 Pick 113

The Baltimore Ravens signed Mark Ingram in the offseason to pair with Gus Edwards and often injured Kenneth Dixon to help Lamar Jackson in the running game. Well the draft saw the Ravens add tons of speed and RB was no exception with Justice Hill. He’s a threat both running the football and catching it. Hill is more of an athlete than RB and I compare him to a poor version of CJ Spiller. However, he’s a 4th round pick with an aging veteran ahead of him and an offense in need of playmakers.

11) Rodney Anderson – Cincinnati – Round 6 Pick 211

13) Trayveon Williams – Cincinnati – Round 6 Pick 182

With Gio Bernard coming off an injury and set to be a free agent after the 2019 season, it was easy to see the Bengals drafting a RB. But I wasn’t expecting two and it’s puzzling because they don’t strike me as special teams players. However, both are talented players who can step up if Joe Mixon misses time. However, Mixon is very talented and hurt their value because he’s the unquestioned starter. He catches passes and won’t yield many targets as well. The Bengals went OL twice in the top four rounds to help out a poor unit, which gives more hope for the running game. But the lack of playing time makes both of these players lottery tickets at this point.

12) Mike Weber – Dallas – Round 7 Pick 218

Tony Pollard – Dallas – Round 4 Pick 128

Just like in Cincinnati, Weber and Pollard’s value took a bit hit landing behind a young, established starter in Zeke Elliott. Last year, he rounded out his game to be a much better pass catcher too. Pollard will likely contribute more in the return game and as a gadget or 3rd down type of role. Weber is a poorer version of Zeke, who will only see the field for an extended time if Zeke misses time. The once elite offensive line has dealt with numerous issues the past few years and was closer to the league average. Weber has a nice all around skill set, but he’s a replacement level player if he was the starter for any length of time.

14) Qadree Ollison – Atlanta – Round 5 Pick 152

15) Jordan Scarlett – Carolina – Round 5 Pick 154

16) Bryce Love – Washington – Round 4 Pick 112

This group of players were surprise picks in the NFL Draft. All have decent talent, but I didn’t expect them to get drafted for a number of reasons. All of them are in crowded backfields or behind clear starters. Odds are stacked against them.

17) Bruce Anderson – Tampa Bay – UDFA

His hope is he lights up camp with Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber being absolute duds.

18) Darwin Thompson – Kansas City – Round 6 Pick 214

James Williams -Kansas City – UDFA

Thompson is a good pass catching back, which is the same role as starter Damien Williams. If Williams misses time, it will be between Darwin and UDFA James Williams with Carlos Hyde likely taking the majority of carries. Whomever, makes the roster will have the lottery ticket chance in a great situation. Fully expect KC to draft a RB in 2020.

19) Benny Snell – Pittsburgh – Round 4 Pick 122

Snell was drafted early to a good situation, but he’s a poor athlete who doesn’t catch the football well.

20) Alex Barnes – Tennessee – UDFA

21) Devine Ozigbo – New Orleans – UDFA

22) Myles Gaskin – Miami – Round 7 Pick 234

23) Elijah Holyfield – Carolina – UDFA24) Damarea Crockett – Houston – UDFA


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Nick Whalen
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