Publish date:

3 College Running Backs Lions Should Keep an Eye On

Our Vito Chirco takes a look at three college running backs the Lions should keep an eye on from the 2021 NFL Draft class

The Lions look to be relatively strong at running back going into 2020.

But, if things end up going awry at the position, maybe the Lions end up taking a back in next year's NFL Draft.

If they do, here are three prospects they could potentially target:

3.) Pooka Williams Jr., Kansas

First off, I love his first name.

Second and most importantly, he's a speedster that can burn defenses.

Williams' diminutive size (5-foot-8, 170 pounds) could be a detractor for some teams, but he doesn't let it get the best of him.

He's nearly unstoppable in the open field, and it's allowed him to rack up 2,186 yards rushing and 503 yards receiving during his first two seasons at Kansas.

A strong third year with the Jayhawks could shoot him up draft boards and put him out of reach for the Lions. But, if he's still available later in the draft, he could be a target of the franchise's front office, which shouldn't be as opposed to taking a back as the draft progresses.

2.) Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis

Can't lie ... I also love this guy's name, specifically his last name. It could serve him well as he's gaining yards on the ground in a Lions uniform next season.

He's a tad bigger than Williams (Gainwell stands in at 5-foot-11, 191 pounds), but he's also very explosive once he gets in the open field.

He managed to amass 2,069 yards of total offense and 16 touchdowns, averaging 7.3 yards per offensive touch, as a redshirt freshman in 2019.

According to Pro Football Focus, he also produced 37 plays of 15 or more yards as an "explosive threat" a season ago with the Tigers.

Recommended Lions Articles


T.J. Lang Added to Detroit Lions Radio Broadcast as Sideline Reporter

Former Detroit Lions offensive lineman will be part of the team's radio broadcasts.


Anthony Lynn Likes Goff's Decision-Making, Will Take 'Calculated' Shots

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn does not want Detroit Lions to be one dimensional on offense.


'I Am a Bad Dude': Okudah’s Attitude Impresses Detroit Lions Coach

Jeff Okudah's first week of training camp has impressed Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell.

Whether the Lions seriously consider taking him, though, will depend on if he's slotted to go in the later rounds.

This is an important factor to take into account with all these backs because the Lions likely won't be in the market for one until the fourth round at the earliest. 

1.) Najee Harris, Alabama

The Lions already have three former SEC running backs on the roster in Kerryon Johnson (Auburn), D'Andre Swift (Georgia) and Bo Scarbrough (Bama). Why not take another one in 2021?

What the Lions will like about him is the fact that he also has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

He hauled in 27 balls for 304 yards and seven scores. And those seven TDs were the most of the reception variety by any SEC tailback in 2019.

He also possesses the size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and quickness combo, which allows him to effectively run both to the outside and up the middle.

He's got all the intangibles to be an all-around back at the next level, and the Lions should consider themselves lucky if they're able to swoop him up in next year's draft.


3 Reasons Lions Should Sign QB Cam Newton

SI Roundtable: Who Lions Should Have Hired in 2018

The Case for Miles Killebrew in 2020

Analyst Ranks Lions as Team with Best Chance of Going Worst to First