The second installment of my three-part series on underrated prospects. Today’s article covers five running backs that’ll be better in the pros than how they’re currently being ranked. The sports world will find out soon enough
James “Boobie” Williams, Washington State, 6’0”, 205 lbs
We’ll kick things off with my favorite sleeper running back in this year’s class. Williams is badly underrated as of now but should begin to see his stock rise as we get closer to the draft. As a junior, he ran for 560 yards (4.6 YPC) and 12 touchdowns in Wazzu’s pass-heavy offense, adding 83 catches for 613 yards and 4 more TDs. Williams is a very slippery back who also runs with some power, and didn’t fumble once in college. He makes defenders miss with his creative footwork, has good vision and awareness, and effectively uses a strong stiff-arm.
Mike Weber Jr., Ohio State, 5’10”, 214 lbs
Despite taking a bit of a backseat due to the emergence of JK Dobbins, Weber remained a good running back for the Buckeyes, turning in a strong 2018 season. The junior ran for 954 yards and 5 touchdowns and was nearly a full YPC better than Dobbins (5.5 vs 4.6). Weber is serviceable as a receiver, hauling in 54 receptions during his college career, and also had no issues with fumbles. While he’s not the fastest back in the class, Weber is powerful and makes defenders miss with an array of moves. I see a solid back at the next level when I watch his film.
Alexander Mattison, Boise State, 5’11”, 211 lbs
The best Boise State running back since Doug Martin, Mattison ran all over the competition in 2018 to the tune of 1415 yards (4.7 YPC) and 17 touchdowns. He also showed some ability as a receiver, hauling in 27 receptions for 173 yards. Wear and tear might be an issue, as Mattison took 581 handoffs in three seasons for the Broncos, but he only got better as the season went on in ‘18, ending the year with 130+ yards in five of the final six games. He’s a powerful runner who breaks a lot of tackles and is fast enough to be effective at the next level.
Darrell Henderson, Memphis, 5’9”, 200 lbs
Explosive is what comes to mind if I had to sum up Henderson in a single word. His burst is special, reaching full speed in just a few steps, and he displays good vision and patience in letting his blocking develop. Henderson’s game is about speed/acceleration but does have some evasive moves and plays bigger than his physical stature. In 2018, he put up an absurd stat line of 1909 yards and 22 touchdowns at a clip of 8.9 YPC. Eight point nine. Oh, and he can catch the ball, too. Henderson will be a weapon for his future NFL team and dynasty owners alike.
Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma, 6’1”, 220 lbs
Injury history is an obvious major concern for the talented Sooners running back. He missed all of 2016 and almost all of 2015 and 2018 due to leg and knee injuries. This makes Anderson a bit of a wild card at the next level. In 2017 (his only healthy season), he was arguably one of the nation’s best backs as he rushed for 1161 yards (6.2 YPC) and 13 touchdowns, adding 17 receptions for another 281 yards and 5 more scores. That year was an enticing look into Anderson’s potential. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a steal for whichever team selects him.
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