This is the fourth in a series of position previews for the 2022 NFL draft, which runs Thursday to Saturday. Today: Running backs.
FOUR NAMES TO KNOW
Breece Hall, Iowa State: If any back is to sneak into the first round this year, it will be Hall. A 5-11, 217-pounder with 4.39 speed, Hall also has soft hands that make him a natural in the passing game. He had over 800 touches in three seasons while leading all FBS backs in broken tackles (194), and he scored a touchdown in an FBS-record 24 consecutive games. Hall finished last year with 1,472 yards and 20 touchdowns on 253 carries (5.8 yards per carry).
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State: The 2021 Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's top RB finished second among FBS backs last year in rushing yards (1,636) while averaging 6.2 per carry and scoring 18 touchdowns. He is smaller (5-9, 211) but still plays with power and leverage when he ventures between the tackles. A transfer from Wake Forest, he has outstanding balance and quickness, and runs a 4.39 40. Inexperienced at best in the passing game, he caught only 19 passes in three college seasons.
James Cook and Zamir White, Georgia: In 2018, the Bulldogs sent two pretty good backs into the NFL in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. They will do the same this year with Cook and White. The 6-foot, 215-pound White is the more physical short-yardage, red-zone type of runner while Cook, the 5-11, 190-pound younger brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, is the big-play threat with exceptional skills as a receiver out of the backfield or lined up out wide.
Tyler Allgeier, Brigham Young: A former walk-on with the Cougars, the 5-11, 224-pound overachiever built himself into one of the more productive backs in college football the past two years. He tied for the FBS lead with 23 rushing touchdowns last year and averaged 7.5 yards per carry on 150 carries two years ago. Allgeier was fourth in the country in rushing yards (1,601) while notching a school-record 276 carries last year. His biggest drawback is he appears to lack the skills to be a threat in the passing game.
They're set. They have one of the best backs in football in 26-year-old Dalvin Cook; one of the better backups in 23-year-old Alexander Mattison; one of the fastest and more intriguing players at any position in 24-year-old Kene Nwangwu; and a solid fourth back on the roster in 24-year-old A.J. Rose. The key for the Vikings is distributing the touches to make sure Cook is still sharp late in the season. He missed four games last season while posting the second-fewest carries (249) and receptions (34) in his first five seasons. Mattison had career highs in carries (134), rushing yards (491), receptions (39) and receiving yards (228) last year. Nwangwu, perhaps the best kick returner in football as a rookie last year, had only 17 touches on offense. Those numbers should go up this year.
VIKINGS' LEVEL OF NEED
Low: There's no need to even think about using a pick on a running back until Day 3. And even then, the Vikings have too many depth needs elsewhere to worry about acquiring another back. If they felt the need for one to help them get through camp and the preseason, they can find an undrafted prospect who could come in, help out and maybe land a spot on the practice squad.