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 Oregon State running back Ryan Nall, 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 | 6’2″ and 232 Pounds | Born December 27, 1995 (Age: 22) | Projection: Rounds 5-7
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.58 sec | bench reps: 15 | 3-cone: 6.95 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.16 sec | vertical: 33 in | broad: 122 in
After Nall’s combine performance, in which he exhibited fantastic size-adjusted speed and agility, it’s possible that he might be more than just a fullback in the NFL. Of course, five years ago I was obsessed with Zach Line as a draft prospect, so it’s possible that I’m falling for a Line-like player all over again. It should be noted, though, that Nall is vastly superior to Line as an athlete. A throwback type of player, Nall is a running back in a linebacker’s body. Literally. In high school, Nall was a two-way first-team all-state running back and linebacker and the 2013 Oregon player of the year. As a rusher, Nall very much has a defensive-minded run-to-contact style.
A tweener, Nall redshirted his first year on campus and played as an H-back and committee runner for most of 2015, but in his two injury-induced starts at tailback — one of which was the season finale Civil War against in-state rival Oregon — Nall absolutely trashed his opponents, turning 39 rushes and four receptions into 350 yards and two touchdowns. As a sophomore and junior, Nall played as the lead back for a Beavers team that went 5-19. Even though the team had almost no passing game and was often blown out, Nall managed to produce, averaging 105.5 yards and 1.19 touchdowns per game over his two final seasons.
Despite his productivity, Nall hasn’t gotten a lot of attention as a draft prospect, but that might change after the combine. He’s a big-bodied and athletic bruiser with 49 receptions for 454 yards and four touchdowns receiving over the past two seasons. He has some NFL potential as a fullback and goal-line vulture with third-down ability. Best-case scenario: He’s a lesser Peyton Hillis. Worst-case scenario: Despite his physical profile and production history, he’s forced to become a block-only fullback who gets a 1.5 touches per game.
Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.
Photo Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports