College: Texas A&M
Height: 6’ 1”
247 Rating: 0.9351 (4 Stars)
By: Nate Christian (@NateNFL)
Coming into the season Isaiah Spiller and Breece Hall we’re the 1a and 1b at the top of the 2022 Draft-Eligible RBs. What’s happened since then? Has Isaiah Spiller done enough in 2021 to keep his name at the top of the list? Yes and no.
Spiller’s production during his three years in college has been impressive since the start, with every year totaling over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. He’s collected at least 20 receptions each season and has over 1,000 yards on the ground alone in the past two seasons. But here is the hang up, his stats haven’t really improved over his career. His yards per carry has stayed at a consistent 5.4-5.6 over his three seasons, while also finding the end zone less and less with each passing season. He rushed for 946 yards his freshman season, 1,036 yards as a sophomore, and 1,011 as a junior. That spread is pretty narrow. Spiller is absolutely a solid running back prospect, but has he grown the ability to do anything at an elite level? Not really.
- Pro-Ready Size- With nearly identical size as Breece Hall, Spiller seems to carry it a bit lighter. I’ll be interested to see what his weight is come the NFL Combine, but nonetheless his size at the next level makes him a candidate for a volume-heavy workload. I think this is one of the most important traits for Spiller as to be a top fantasy asset, he is going to need plenty of volume at the next level.
- Receiving Threat- While one could certainly label Spiller as a “receiving back”, he’s not the stereotypical scatback that you would usually imagine with that role. Spiller is a physical route runner and able to make contested catches down the field. He’s strong enough in pass protection to get on the field as a rookie on third and long situations, and should be able to offer some fantasy upside if put into the role early.
- Keeps Moving- After the catch and in the second level, Spiller shows good contact balance to run through arm tackles and gain the extra yards after contact that we expect of someone 6’1” and 225 lbs. While he’s not a bruiser and won’t be running over NFL defenders on a consistent basis, he did enough in the SEC for me to believe he will continue to be a hard RB to tackle at the pro level.
- What is Elite?As I mentioned before, Spiller lacks one true elite trait as a running back. His receiving ability is certainly a strength, but compared to some of the other backs in this class, I’m hesitant to call it elite. Spiller can do it all at the next level, but will he be able to keep other players at bay and hold down a volume-heavy role? That is the biggest question, and one I’m not confident in.
- Space CreationIsaiah Spiller can get the job done. Spiller can break open some big runs into the secondary. Spiller can get around the corner before the linebacker. But can Spiller be a difference-maker on every touch? I’m doubtful. He lacks the home run speed and agility to break off the big plays consistently. He will be plenty fine at the next level, but don’t expect him to consistently create his own yards.
- Short-Yardage Tunnel-Vision This is a hard one to really sell as a weakness, because this is a common issue with most running backs, but when we’re searching for the top prospects in the class this matters. This is what made Najee Harris ($3,261,862) such a great runner along the goal line, his ability to manipulate the defense in short-yardage situations. This can be a huge difference maker at the next level, as goal line vision is certainly a skill, and if you can’t produce, you’re gonna get vultured.
Things to Watch:
Oftentimes, we are all about watching the 40-yard dash, especially for the offensive skill positions. Spiller’s will definitely be one to watch, but it’s not the measurable I’m super interested in this time around. Spiller seems like a good enough athlete, but I do wonder a bit about his stop-start ability and for that I’m going to be looking at his shuttle and 3-cone drill numbers to see how they compare to some of the other players in this draft class. If those numbers look good, I’m not going to really be too worried about whatever his 40-yard dash time ends up clocking in as.
Come draft day, Spiller is going to be lumped in with the other top running backs in the draft class somewhere in the 2nd round (35th pick). His upside as a receiver is going to make sure he doesn’t slip much farther than that. I don’t believe Spiller offers enough upside to jump into the back end of the first round, but you never know what could happen on draft day.
As far as a contract goes I think it could look pretty similar to Javonte Williams’ ($2,216,438) 4-year deal that he received after being selected early in the 2nd round. As always, running backs on rookie deals are nearly essential to a championship team build on the Dynasty Owner platform, making Isaiah Spiller a likely Top-5 pick in rookie drafts.
Isaiah Spiller is relatively “landing spot proof”. He’s not a one-dimensional back who needs a certain offense to thrive and his receiving chops would give him a role on just about every NFL team. But there are certainly some teams that would be ideal situations. One of those situations, as with Breece Hall, is the Atlanta Falcons. A team that looks to be screaming for a lead back, Isaiah Spiller fits the Arthur Smith mold of a thick running back. After seeing the Cordarrelle Patterson ($3,000,000) experiment work so well, Spiller would also be able to take on a large volume of receiving work out of the backfield. The Falcons have the 43rd pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and I think that would be a realistic spot for Spiller to end up.
Kliff Kingsbury is probably going through charts and film trying to figure out how to improve his offense in 2022, and he’s going to have a tough time with all of the impending free agents surrounding his quarterback. Spiller would be a great piece to build around in the backfield. Both James Conner ($1,750,000) and Chase Edmonds ($728,090) could be out of the desert in 2022 and Spiller could carve out a very nice lead role with the high-power offense of the Cardinals. With the team holding the 55th pick in the NFL Draft, I would not be surprised to see Spiller moving out West to hook up with the former Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator.