2021 NFL Draft Profile: RB Kenneth Gainwell
The NFL is changing, and we’re starting to see the days of the true “workhorse” RBs phase-out. Teams are choosing to deploy multiple players in different roles to keep defenses on their heels. The need to have multiple backs that can be versatile has exponentially increased recently.
One of those roles that have become so valuable to NFL offenses recently is the pass-catching running back. However, not just simply as a player that can run the short routes out of the backfield from the side of the QB, but players with enough versatility to detach and be lined up out wide as a receiver. As NFL offenses get more and more creative, the need for these types of players becomes more and more pressing.
With that being the case, NFL GMs will be “chomping at the bit” to bring in Gainwell in the 2021 NFL Draft this year. For all the talent that Antonio Gibson displayed in his rookie season in the NFL, he was barely put on the field at Memphis because of Gainwell’s presence above him on the depth chart.
Is Gainwell going to be relegated to purely a receiving role in the NFL, though? Just how valuable can he be for fantasy football?
These questions are answered here in our detailed scouting profile on Kenneth Gainwell:
Weight: 195 lbs.
Bench: 21 Reps
40-Yard Dash: 4.42
Skills Breakdown (out of 100)
Vision (77): He has fantastic vision in between the tackles. He most likely won’t be asked to carry the ball a ton in the NFL, maybe 4-5 carries a game, but he’ll succeed with the opportunity. His eyes are always active, and he’s constantly able to make the right cuts and identify the correct running lanes.
Burst (79): Tremendous short-area quickness and burst. Able to accelerate to top speed insanely quick, even after a full stop.
Change of Direction (77): Fantastic change of direction ability, and he accomplishes this through outstanding footwork. His feet are tied to his eyes, and he’s able to identify his running lane, move laterally with active feet, and still not lose any momentum.
Power (72): Runs with surprising power for his size. Tough, strong, and hard to bring down. Able to keep fighting and pick up additional yardage after contact, but it won’t be a key part of what he brings to the table at his stature.
Speed (78): Fantastic top-end speed. He won’t break records at the Combine but has more than enough speed to pull away from defenders or get to the edge on stretch runs.
Contact Balance (77): Nearly impossible to bring down on first contact due to his contact balance. Able to shed would-be tacklers extremely well.
Pass Catching (85): Truly a phenomenal pass-catcher. Not only is he lethal out of the backfield as a receiver, but he can line up out wide and reel in contested back-shoulder throws. Phenomenal concentration and hand-eye coordination. He has the receiving ability to be one of the most heavily targeted RBs in the NFL one day.
Pass Protection (65): Struggles in pass protection due to his size, but that’s not how he should be used or what he should be asked to do at the next level.
I’m ALL IN on Kenneth Gainwell folks. We spent a lot of time talking about how dynamic Antonio Gibson was with limited opportunity.
It was a redshirt freshman who relegated Gibson & Taylor to the bench. Gainwell is the real deal. 231-1459-13 | 51-610-3 ????pic.twitter.com/lI9YzMzelY
– Ray G ???? (@RayGQue) June 19, 2020
Kenneth Gainwell’s receiving grade = ????
– Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) January 15, 2021
They Said It
Projected Draft Range
Gainwell’s draft stock is a bit of a mystery due to him opting out of the 2020 CFB season. However, the talent and role that he’ll be asked to fill dictates that he should be viewed as a Day 2 pick.
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spot
The Buffalo Bills have tried making it work with Devin Singletary the past couple of seasons, but he hasn’t been able to turn into what they’ve needed at the RB position. Gainwell would step in and be a perfect compliment to Moss’s bruising running style and provide Josh Allen another receiving weapon in this offense.
When assessing Gainwell’s projected role at the next level, combined with his physical traits, it’s easy to see the similarities between him and Jd Mckissic. While McKissic wasn’t particularly effective throughout the course of his NFL career until last season, he’s a great receiver out of the backfield, and he plays with plenty of juice and burst. Gainwell should assume a very similar role for an NFL offense almost immediately.
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