News & Analysis

Ranking the top-five draft-eligible running backs in yards after contact per attempt

Rushing production is highly dependent on the blocking ahead of the ball carrier, but running backs can add value on top of good and bad run blocking with their ability to force missed tackles and gain yards after contact.

Here’s a list of the top-five draft-eligible FBS running back with at least 150 carries in yards after contact per attempt in 2018.

[Editor’s Note: To view more of Pro Football Focus’ advanced stats and grades for draft-eligible players, check out our 2019 NFL Draft Guide. All EDGE and ELITE subscribers already have access to the guide, and for those who don’t, you can get your copy for as low as $9.99!]

1. Darrell Henderson, Memphis (6.2)

No running back totaled more yards after contact (1,318) or averaged more yards after contact per attempt (6.2) than Memphis’ Darrell Henderson. The 5-foot-8, 208-pounder is a big-play threat with great burst and long speed, who is more than capable of grinding out tough yards through contact or taking it the distance.

2. Darwin Thompson, Utah State (5.1)

Utah State’s Darwin Thompson has been wrongfully overlooked in this class after being left off the invite list for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Though small in stature (5-foot-8, 200 pounds), Thompson averaged the second-most yards after contact per attempt (5.1) and the third-most forced missed tackles per attempt among qualifiers in 2018.

3. Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska (4.5)

Devine Ozigbo, a high-cut back coming out of Nebraska listed at 5-foot-11, 222 pounds, is a downhill runner that brings a great deal of weight behind his pads – enough weight to have defenders bouncing off of him left and right. He led all FBS backs in the percentage of carries he gained two or more yards after contact per attempt (74.8%) and ranked third in the class in yards after contact per attempt (4.5).

T-4. Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh (4.1)

Darrin Hall, like Ozigbo, brings great size to the table. Listed at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds, he averaged a whopping 4.1 yards after contact per attempt across his 153 carries in 2018, tied for fourth in the class.

T-4. Elijah Holyfield, Georgia (4.1)

A slow 40-yard dash at the Combine has formed a laundry list of doubters for Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield, but there’s no questioning his ability to bully defenders and run through contact. He tied Hall in yards after contact per attempt (4.1) and forced 31 missed tackles this past season.

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