Top Running Backs in the 2021 NFL Draft by Darrell D. Lane

Top Running Backs in the 2021 NFL Draft by Darrell D. Lane

NFL Draft

Top Running Backs in the 2021 NFL Draft

Darrell D. Lane

With the NFL Draft fast approaching, I thought it would be nice to release my big board for the top 14 running backs in this upcoming draft. I also thought it would be a fun exercise to show some clips of traits that make my top 5 running backs special.

  1. Najee Harris, Alabama 

Harris is the most complete running back in this draft class. The 6’2, 230 pound back has a punishing run style with amazing power that allows him to run over opponents. What Harris can also do is move well in space, make people miss in the hole, catch passes out the backfield and block in pass protection. This Alabama back will be ready week 1 of the NFL season and be able to start for a team with no issues. Najee’s ability to convert quickness to power is going to be one of his best assets at the next level (Harris number 22).

  1. Travis Etienne, Clemson

I love Etienne. He is the embodiment of what the modern day running back in the NFL should be, fast, quick, explosive and a receiver out the backfield. The reason I put the Clemson product at number 2, is my concern with him not being a 20 carry back in the NFL on a consistent basis. He only reached this threshold 1 time this past year. The most impressive thing about Etienne is he does not need to run the ball to have an imprint on the game. You can just throw him the ball evident by his 48 catches this past year. Etienne’s best attribute, above all else, is his ability to make plays in space number 9). 

  1. Javonte Williams, North Carolina 

Williams is the best power back in this class, which is truly special when you consider Najee Harris is in this class as well. The 5’10, 220 pound back has a physical running style. Williams brings more to the table then just power. He has good vision and solid speed. The most impressive thing about the former UNC standout, is he never seems to go down on the first hit (Williams number 25).

  1. Kenneth Ganinwell, Memphis  

The Memphis product is one of the best pure runners in the draft. Gainwell has the speed, power and acceleration you want from a running back. Gainwell showed off his versatility for the Tigers in 2019-2020, as he was used in the wildcat, slot and as a pass catcher out the back field. The spin move and cutting ability that Gainwell possess are both special (Gainwell number 19).

  1. Michael Carter, North Carolina

This speedster from North Carolina will be an explosive playmaker for whichever NFL team drafts him. Carter is very shifty, has elite quickness, agility and breakaway speed. The Former Tar Hill finished 4th in the nation in total rushing yards and will be an asset in the passing game having 3 straight 20 catch seasons. Carter will be able to come in right away and be a homerun hitting weapon at the running back position (Carter number 8).

  • Trey Sermon, Ohio State
  • Demetric Felton, UCLA
  • Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
  • Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma state
  • Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State
  • Jarret Paterson, Buffalo
  • Javion Hawkins, Louisville 
  • Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech
  • Zamir White, Georgia

*all stats are from