The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 4.
Redshirt Junior | 6’0″ and 233 Pounds | Born December 20, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Round 6-Free Agent
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.74 sec | bench reps: 22 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: 33.5 in | broad: 116 in
A running back-fullback tweener, Pettway redshirted his first year at Auburn in 2014, as the Tigers backfield was stacked with future NFLers in Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant, and Peyton Barber. In 2015 Pettway asked to move full time to fullback so that he could play, and although that season he touched the ball only once (a 12-yard reception) he was serviceable as a lead blocker for Barber, Jovon Robinson, Roc Thomas, and fellow 2018 draft prospect Kerryon Johnson.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2016, Pettway had better luck. Barber left Auburn early for the NFL even though he had two years of eligibility left. Robinson was kicked off the team. Thomas transferred to Jacksonville State. All of a sudden, Pettway was the starting tailback, and in his nine starts — he missed four games in the second half to a leg injury — he put up 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns rushing on 209 carries. For his effort, he was named a first-team All-SEC running back.
His junior year, though, was a disaster. He missed the season-opener due to suspension, and after two big games against Clemson and Mercer (56 rushes and three receptions for 234 yards and three touchdowns), Pettway missed a couple more games with ankle and heel injuries. After playing a couple of games behind Johnson, Pettway exploded against Arkansas for 90 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries — but he fractured his shoulder blade in the game and missed the rest of the season.
Pettway has talent, but he also has a lot of red flags, not the least of which was his sloth-like combine performance. He’s almost exclusively a between-the-tackles plodder, and he caught only six passes at Auburn for 58 yards. On top of that, in his two lead-back seasons he missed 13 games to injury, and it’s possible that his bruising running style exposes him to too many hard hits. Finally, Pettway reportedly has some off-the-field and attitude concerns, which could cause him to go undrafted. If Pettway is able to make an NFL impact, it will likely be as an early-down grinder in a backfield committee.
Photo Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports