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2022 NFL Draft: Running back prospect superlatives

Tampa, FL, USA; Florida Gators running back Dameon Pierce (27) runs the ball against the UCF Knights in the first half of the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Just because an NFL draft prospect may not be considered among the best at their respective position doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be highlighting the best at specific traits for each positional group in the 2022 NFL Draft class.

After highlighting quarterbacks, we now move on to running backs. While this isn’t the best class to find a true every-down back — the PFF Big Board sees only two who fit that bill — there are a number of prospects who have specific skill sets to offer to NFL teams. Let’s dive into the best players at each aspect of the running back position.

Best Home-Run Speed: Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State

It’s always nice when the tape, stats and measurables align. All three say Strong has some juice. The South Dakota State back’s ability to get up to top speed in a hurry jumps off his tape. His 54.3% breakaway percentage (percentage of yards gained on carries that went for 15-plus yards) last year narrowly edged out Kenneth Walker III for tops in the draft class. At the combine, Strong ran a blazing 4.37-second 40-yard dash to lead the draft class. 

Toughest to Bring Down: Dameon Pierce, Florida

At 5-foot-9 and nearly 220 pounds, Pierce runs with as low a center of gravity as you’ll see in this draft class. Try to go high on him, and you’ll be met with a rocked-up stiff-arm that put up 21 bench press reps at the combine. On 100 carries this past season, Pierce broke 39 tackles, including five broken tackles on only nine carries against the vaunted Georgia defense.

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