The 2022 NFL Draft has a sneaky-deep running back class.
While there aren’t any big-name runners like we saw come out in the 2021 class, this year’s class has a number of talented running backs. There are also runners of just about every shape, size, and skill set to fit whatever an offense needs.
Offenses looking for an athletic playmaker out of the backfield will likely look at Isaiah Spiller from Texas A&M. Spiller has been a consistent producer for the Aggies’ offense over the last three years. And while he does have over 500 carries, he won’t be turning 21 until just before the 2022 season.
The New York Giants probably won’t be selecting a running back highly in the 2022 draft, but could they look to Spiller if he happens to fall?
Prospect: Isaiah Spiller (28)
Games Watched: vs. Arkansas (2021), vs. Mississippi State (2021), vs. Alabama (2021), vs. South Carolina (2021)
Games Played (starts): 35
Yards (YPC): 2,993 (5.5 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 585 (7.9 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 26 (25 rushing, 1 receiving)
Games Played (starts): 12
Yards (YPC): 1,011 (5.6 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 189 (7.6 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 7 (6 rushing, 1 receiving)
Best: Vision, short-area quickness, athleticism, contact balance
Worst: Hands, pass protection technique, consistency
Projection: A starting, or primary rotation piece, in a spread offense that uses zone blocking schemes.
Isaiah Spiller is an athletic and exciting running back prospect from Texas A&M University.
Spiller has good size for the position, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, with a good balance between his upper and lower halves. He ran almost exclusively out of the shotgun in TAMU’s spread offense, though he should be able to run out of the I and Pistol sets as well.
Spiller shows great patience behind the line of scrimmage, using his positioning and path to the line to help set up his blockers. He also shows a great understanding of how to use hesitation strategically as a runner. Spiller does a great job of pausing for an instant to allow his linemen to establish their blocks, or to upset defenders’ timing. He also has very good vision as a ball carrier. Spiller routinely picks out quickly closing holes and anticipates defenders at the second or third levels.
He has good short-area and stop-start quickness, which allows him to pick his way through muddy running lanes. He also has some ability to string moves together to pick out tough runs in short-yardage situations between the tackles. Spiller also has enough speed to consistently out-flank the defense and gain the edge in outside zone or off-tackle runs. That speed also shows itself at the second or third levels between the 20’s. Spiller is prone to picking up chunk yardage once he breaks through the line of scrimmage.
Spiller is also a surprisingly powerful runner at the second level. He has good contact balance and a strong lower body, which allow him to grind out yards after contact. He doesn’t go down easily and consistently tries to drive behind his pads to maximize his runs.
Spiller has some upside in the passing game. He understands his role in pass protection and puts forth good effort as a blocker. He also has a good awareness for chip blocks when releasing into a route as a pass catcher. He does a good job of disrupting edge rushers without upsetting the timing of the play.
That said, Spiller runs a relatively limited route tree and needs to get better at being a “hands” catcher. He frequently lets passes into his chest plate, both minimizing his catch radius and making ball security a question. Spiller also doesn’t quite show the same play strength as a pass protector as a runner. That’s likely due to inconsistent technique limiting how much of his play strength he’s able to bring to bear.
Spieller is also a somewhat inconsistent, or “boom or bust” running back. He is usually good at making consistent gains, and is a definite big play threat. However, he can get greedy behind the line of scrimmage and get brought down for no gain (or a loss) easily while he’s looking for holes. Spiller seems to trust his patience, vision, and athleticism to find running lanes when there’s nothing there, and he can wind up going backwards rather than picking up whatever he can and moving on to the next play.
Overall Grade: 7.1
Isaiah Spiller projects as a starting running back, or a major contributor for a team that relies on a running back rotation.
He has the skill set to be able to produce out of any blocking scheme, though a good zone scheme would likely maximize his talents. Spiller is at his best when he’s able to be a “one-cut” runner, pick his hole, and get north-south. His vision and quickness allow him to use his running tempo and hesitation as weapons – almost like a jazz musician playing with syncopation to keep their listeners off balance.
Spiller also has an interesting running style in which he varies his stride track, allowing him to quickly adjust his path without it being a true jump-cut. The result is a very smooth run with seemingly minor adjustments that make defenders look silly.
He also has plenty of speed to be dangerous on outside runs or to break away from most defenders in the open field. Spillers’ slipperiness around the line of scrimmage and speed in the open field let him break off chunk yardage in the blink of an eye.
All of that makes for an exciting runner.
However, there are a few areas of his game that definitely need work. Spiller needs to improve in his pass protection if he wants to be on the field for all three downs. He’s certainly willing, but his technique just isn’t there yet. Too often he just tries to shoulder check defenders, and that won’t work at the NFL level.
He also needs to learn when to just pick up what he can, rather than trying to find a big play that just isn’t there. Spiller has some ability to string moves together and create something out of not-much, but too often he can get caught looking for holes and wind up being brought down for a loss.
Spiller is still very young and won’t be turning 21 until training camp starts. There’s plenty of time for coaches to work with him to maximize his skill set, and if he’s able to improve his play in the passing game and be a bit more decisive behind the line of scrimmage, Spiller could be a very good running back at the NFL level.