The 2021 NFL Draft will be a great event for teams to start building for their future. Here is the Kenneth Gainwell 2021 NFL Draft Profile.
Kenneth Gainwell Background
Position: Running Back
Size: 5-foot-11, 191 pounds
Class: Redshirt Sophomore
2019 stats: 231 carries, 1,459 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 6.3 yards per rush, 51 receptions, 610 receiving yards, 3 touchdown catches
Gainwell decided to opt out of the 2020 season. After doing so, he elected to forgo his remaining eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft as one of the best running backs in the class.
In high school, Gainwell was a quarterback who ended up being a three-star recruit. He had an offer from Ole Miss and some group of five schools, but ultimately choose to go to Memphis. Gainwell redshirted his first year on campus after playing in the first four games. He finished that season with four carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Gainwell gained over 2,000 total yards and had 16 touchdowns. The Tigers went 12-2 and made an appearance in the Cotton Bowl.
After already proving his ability and not wanting to add unnecessary mileage, Gainwell decided to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He is currently projected to be a second or third round pick in the draft this season and will be one of the first running backs selected.
Gainwell is a very elusive player. He has great acceleration and agility, which makes it hard for defenders to bring him to the ground. His ability to be slippery means that opponents have to wrap him up to bring him to the ground. He makes people miss, which enables him to be a home run threat.
In this draft class, Gainwell is one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield. He runs routes like he is a receiver with the ability to get open often. After that he has soft hands to be able to bring balls in. Once the ball is in his hands, he uses his elusiveness as a ball carrier to create big plays. Gainwell can come out of the backfield or even split out wide, making him versatile.
His vision is also very good. Gainwell will get the ball, process what he sees and run to open ground. There were some plays at Memphis where the defense would crash to the side that he was running too and he flipped it around to the other side for big gains. Gainwell finds open space and maximizes the potential of a lot of carries.
As soon as he gets on an NFL team, Gainwell needs to work on adding strength. He is only a 191 pounds, which is far too light to be an every down back. If he adds some strength, it will help him on power runs and in pass protection. Ultimately, it will help him become a more well-rounded running back.
Gainwell shouldn’t be used in goal line or short-yardage situations. If he can add strength he can be used, but for the time being he doesn’t have the necessary power to be effective. Teams that look to draft him will need to make sure they have another running back on the roster that can capitalize in the situations that Gainwell may not be able to be successful in.
While he was often used to run routes in passing situations, he needs to improve his pass protection for the next level. As mentioned, he doesn’t have great strength which limits him. He also needs to understand where the pressure is coming from better and show a willingness to pass protect.
Projected Draft Range: Second Round Pick-Third Round Pick
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