I’m back with my Ahead of the Curve devy series. This time, I’ll be looking at 3 Running Backs I believe are worth targeting earlier than consensus.
Kendall Milton, Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs are notoriously a run heavy team. With both Zamir White and James Cook heading to the NFL, who takes their workloads? The guy I think will be the main beneficiary is Kendall Milton.
Milton was the 7th ranked Running Back in the 2020 recruitment class. Despite being a true freshman, he started to see more carries early. However, Milton injured his knee in the week 7 game against Florida. Up until the injury, he led the running back room in yards per carry. The California native managed to get back on the field in the bowl game against Cincinnati. The 2021 season started off the same, with Milton seeing the ball 6 to 12 times a game. However, Milton strained his MCL and missed the final 5 regular season games. Again, he managed to get on the field in the postseason CFP Semi-Final against Michigan. He finished the season with 264 yards from 56 carries, with one touchdown.
Leader of the backfield
As mentioned, Zamir White and James Cook have left the program for the NFL. Both guys gobbled up most of the carries, while Cook caught passes out of the backfield. However, the 2022 season will need a new 1-2 punch for the Bulldogs. The competition for touches will always be competitive at Georgia. However, It’s a competition that Kendall Milton is good enough to win. Before his injuries, he saw more of the ball than the other two guys still rostered. Kenny McIntosh is going into his 4th season as a Bulldog and Daijun Edwards came through the 2020 class with Milton.
Milton is in the sweet spot of size I like in a running back at 215lbs. However, he’s just above 6ft 1 which is taller than I like, but not a big problem. He has the speed and has excellent contact balance. As a result, he gains those extra yards after contact, a big part of his game. He hasn’t seen much of the ball in the passing game and I don’t expect him to in 2022. However, he showed in high school he has capabilities in the passing game.
In the latest 12 team mock draft I took part in, Milton went in the 6th round and the 26th RB off the board.. In my opinion, way too low on a player who has the skills NFL teams look for in a running back. I think most players will be targeting Milton in the 4th round. However, I believe Milton will be a 2022 breakout player. I’ll be looking to grab him earlier in some leagues.
Devin Neal, Kansas
Kansas isn’t usually a hotbed for future NFL talent. However, running back Devin Neal is a name you might want on your devy squads. Especially if his 2021 true freshman season is anything to go by.
Neal is a 3 star prospect out of high school and 27th ranked running back in the 2021 recruitment class. However, Neal had an excellent first season with the Jayhawks. Neal racked up 707 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns from 158 attempts behind a below average offensive line (ranked 90th out of 130 teams). What impressed me with Neal was his performances against the big two teams in the BIG 12. He has three 100 yard rushing games, 2 of them against Texas and Oklahoma. Neal only had a handful of receptions, but he did look comfortable in the pass game. Also, nearly all his receptions came in the last 4 games. Therefore, we may see more of Neal in the passing game this season.
There will be more pressure on Devin Neal’s shoulders after an impressive debut season. However, in his interviews he comes across as a player who thrives off the pressure. One thing that did impress me last season was his 100 yard games against Texas and Oklahoma last season. Neal even became a work horse in those games, carrying the ball 20+ times in each game. At 5ft 11” and 208lbs, his size coming into the 2021 season was good. Neal is a patient runner, but not to the effect where he waits too long for gaps. As a result, he is able to break off chunk plays by picking the best running lanes when they appear.
Devin Neal projects to be a player that makes it into the NFL. Although, where he will be drafted is going to come down to the next 2 seasons in college. In start-ups, Neal is around the 23rd running back to be drafted. As a result, I think taking a chance and picking him a few spots ahead of players like Deuce Vaughn and Blake Corum isn’t a bad strategy. If Neal continues where he left 2021, the RB17 to RB20 position looks like a steal.
Jamarion Miller, Alabama
Devy players are diving into the tape of incoming freshman for the 2022 season. At running back, players like Jaydon Blue and Branson Robinson are getting the early hype. However, Alabama running back Jamarion Miller is a player on my radar. Miller wasn’t the highest running back recruited by Alabama, but for me, he’s the better guy. He will more than likely have to play the waiting game to get on the field. This shouldn’t be a hit to his stock as this happens with most players at the Crimson Tide.
All round talent
In High School, Miller showcased impressive skills as a pass catching back. In fact, it was one of his better skills. However, that doesn’t mean his skills as a runner aren’t up to scratch. Miller is a fast processor as a runner. He seems to have an idea what is going to unfold before it happens and usually makes the right decisions. He also has a knack of getting himself out of tight spaces and making big plays. Everything you see on tape, ticks all the boxes as a future fantasy start in the NFL.
A few mock drafts I’ve been in, Jamarion Miller isn’t even getting picked up in 10 rounds. However, after a productive spring game Miller has moved up rankings. Still, people are still quite low on him, with 7 or 8 2022 freshmen still going ahead of him. In Devy drafts, I’ll see how quickly the 2022 RBs come off the board and make a decision on if or when to take him. If i can get him after the 7th round in deeper devy leagues, I’ll be more than happy.
Jordan – @5yarddevy
To read Jordan’s ‘Ahead of the Curve’ article on Quarterbacks, click here