*Our RB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*We use the term “Power RB” to separate physically bigger, more between-the-tackles–capable RBs from our “speed RBs” group. “Speed RBs” are physically smaller, but much faster/quicker, and less likely to flourish between the tackles.


I think Kenneth Dixon answers the question: “What would’ve happened if a less physically gifted, but more instinctual/natural Shane Vereen went to a mid-major school in the passing game era of 2010+, and that school built their whole offense around him?” That’s a longer, more sophisticated way of saying Kenneth Dixon is Shane Vereen–like.

Just pronouncing Dixon and Vereen as ‘comparable’ because Dixon racked up big receiving numbers in college, and Vereen is more known as one of the forefathers in the new era, NFL pass-game RBs that work more WR-like…it’s not just as simple as ‘both guys remind me of running backs that catch a lot of passes’. There’s a difference between these two notorious receiving running backs.

The main difference being that Shane Vereen was a physical freak for his size coming out of Cal in 2011. 31 bench reps and a 4.5+ runner with nice agility metrics made him a highly desired draft weapon. Bill Belichick saw all the possibilities ahead of everyone, before several running backs became quasi-wide receivers in 2015. Vereen was an anomaly a few years ago—a running back running deep wheel routes out of the backfield…we all gasped as he moved from the backfield to become a flanker at times—now every other team does that.

Kenneth Dixon is one of many emerging, great receiver-first running backs—it just so happens Dixon was more utilized, and garnered more attention posting receiving numbers beyond all the other running backs in this draft. In another few years, Dixon’s terrific receiving numbers will be second nature, old hat. Today, it’s still somewhat ahead of its time. People’s eyes pop out of their heads looking at Dixon’s receiving numbers, especially the yards and TDs (60+ catches, 850 yards and 13 TDs as a receiver the past two years)—in awe as if Dixon is singlehandedly causing all this to happen. He’s not, per se. He’s very talented, and thus Louisiana Tech used him, but we have to separate the heavy usage from determining what his true NFL talent is. It’s no different than ridiculing/denigrating a quarterback like Brandon Doughty at Western Kentucky for putting up monster numbers, as we all write it off it as ‘silly college offenses pushing average quarterbacks to amazing numbers in college’. Because we’re not used to it from the running back perspective, people tend to ogle Dixon for it while mocking quarterbacks for the same thing in the same conference.

That’s not to say Kenneth Dixon isn’t a good NFL prospect, because he is—the question is “How good?

Shane Vereen is a good backdrop to contrast and compare. Both Vereen and Dixon have a lot of similarities in size and scale. Vereen is much stronger and more athletic...more built to run the ball in the bigger stronger NFL. Dixon is not built for a big workload as a rusher in the NFL. Dixon has an OK size at 215 pounds but is a limited athlete in today’s NFL…a 4.58 runner who is much better out in space dancing around than he is slamming the ball up the middle. You can see it on tape. Dixon has some really nice runs, but it’s usually off a sweep where he can get outside clean, find a hole, and dart through it. The Dixon tape is less exciting when he takes a traditional handoff off-tackle or up the middle, and it’s congested. He’s very human running into defensive lines. Where Dixon really excels is when he slides out of the backfield as an elite pass-game weapon. Dixon has sensational body control as a running back coming out of the backfield for passes—he can twist and contort his body, adjusting to passes like a talented wide receiver…a rare skill for a running back. You see those parts of his tape and you want to go bananas, and you should—it’s a gift. But let’s not mistake that for Dixon being your three-down NFL running back solution, for that he is not.

Dixon is a talented enough runner that you can get him 3-to-8 carries a game and keep the defense honest. Where you really want to use him is sliding out of the backfield to catch the ball. He’s like a lesser talented Matt Forte out of the backfield. He’s a bigger, better, stronger, more gifted Dion Lewis. He’s a better version of Gio Bernard in the passing game.

I don’t want to totally pigeonhole Dixon has just some guy with good hands that you can really rely upon to catch a bunch of short swing passes and can send deeper as needed. You can do all that, but I have to mention one other thing I saw on tape with Dixon—he’s a really talented, gifted football player. The guy didn’t rack up the second-most touchdowns in an NCAA career because he has pretty good hands out of the backfield. He is one of the prettiest, high energy/high effort, natural avoiders of other humans that you’ll ever want to find as a scout. The problem is he’s just an average athlete with an exceptional instinct—and that will only take you so far in the NFL. 300+ pound guys running as fast as you—it’s not a chess game at a certain point…it’s demolition derby.

Kenneth Dixon is a very good prospect. He’s not an overall elite running back talent, but he’s near-elite with his pass-game abilities and understanding. Closer to elite in the pass game as of today, when it’s transitioning from novelty to foundation of every NFL offense ahead. Valued for the passing game, Dixon is one of the best RB prospects in this draft. Value him as a traditional three-down running back, and you will be disappointed—he’s not as good as Ezekiel Elliott all-around because of the size and speed differential. Value Dixon solely as a dominant receiver out of the backfield, and you’re going to find a nice Pro Bowl–level value, a guy that can catch 80+ passes a year and make a real difference to an offense…what we all wanted/expected from Shane Vereen.


Kenneth Dixon, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

Dixon obviously had a great college career. Like I mentioned before, the second-most total touchdowns in all college football history (88 TDs)—four-year starter, and a four-year high-level producer every season. Twice in his career, Dixon rushed for six TDs in a game (as a freshman, and again as a senior). He wasn’t just a revelation in college—he set records in high school in Arkansas as well, voted the state’s top player his final season…and that earned him a three-star high school prospect ranking.

Dixon’s resume of achievements is impressive. However, when you dig a little bit you can see some flaws…issues that will haunt him at the next level…

In his last nine games of college play, Dixon ran for 100+ yards just three times. There were times when he dominated in games, and other times he was just ‘OK’ as a rusher…because he is not a high-end traditional runner.

In the past two seasons, Dixon has faced big-conference opponents four times (Oklahoma, Auburn, Illinois, and Kansas State)—in those four games, Dixon ran for 53.8 yards per game, with a high game of 81 yards. In those four games, he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. He’s not designed to be your ‘runner of the ball’. He’s designed to be amazing at catching passes.

The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Kenneth Dixon Most Compares Within Our System:

We’ve already discussed the Dixon-Vereen comp. You must know that a young Shane Vereen, getting the same treatment at Louisiana Tech the past four years, would have likely superseded Dixon. They are two similar weapons that we try to compare in apple-and-orange eras of offensive philosophy.

RB Score










Speed Metric

Agility Metric






La Tech
























Mid Tenn St




































O. Dominion







*A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of RBs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL RB.

All of the RB ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall rating/score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for the strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics – then compared/rated historically within our database and formulas. More of a traditional three-down search – runner, blocker, and receiver.

*RB-Re score = New/testing in 2017. Our new formula/rating that attempts to identify and quantify a prospect's receiving skills even deeper than in our original formulas. RB prospects can now make it/thrive in the NFL strictly based on their receiving skills – it is an individual attribute sought out for the NFL and no longer dismissed or overlooked. Our rating combines a study of their receiving numbers in college in relation to their offense and opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with hand size measurables, etc.

*RB-Ru score = New/testing in 2017. Our new formula/rating that attempts to classify and quantify an RB prospect's ability strictly as a runner of the ball. Our rating combines a study of their rushing numbers in college in relation to their offense and strength of opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with various size measurables, etc.

Raw Speed Metric = A combination of several speed and size measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

Agility Metric = A combination of several speed and agility measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

2016 NFL Draft Outlook:

It’s hard to predict where Kenneth Dixon will be drafted because it all depends on what the team drafting him is looking for, and even more rudimentary—what do the notable mainstream mock drafters/analysts judging him look for (which influences NFL teams). People who are stuck 10 years ago where runner-receivers were an anomaly, and Darren Sproles was this thing that blew everyone’s mind—they may not fully understand how the NFL is going to demand that at least one of their roster running backs is like Kenneth Dixon—a guy that’s basically a wide receiver out of the backfield. That era is just unfolding so quickly that Dixon’s timing may be perfect because we will likely see a bunch of guys with numbers/skills like his/better than his in upcoming drafts.

NFL teams that got behind the curve, but now realize they want to emulate what the Patriots did with Dion Lewis, and/or with what the Cardinals are doing with David Johnson, and/or what the Chargers are doing with Danny Woodhead, and so on and so forth for NFL examples, the desperately behind/catching-up teams may value Dixon higher than he should be because they want in on what will be perceived as the best runner-receiver in this draft class…and Dixon may very well be just that.

I think the NFL is going to take another huge step in that runner-receiver direction with their studies this offseason, so we believe Dixon is going to be hotly pursued, and I see him going in the top 50. Not a first-rounder, but soon after.

If I were an NFL GM, I look at Kenneth Dixon, and his overall resume and skills, and gritty attitude—and I would love to have this guy on my football team. I’m slightly hesitant because he’s not a physical god, but I get that’s somewhat offset because he has superior football instinctual talents. As much as I want a guy like Dixon on my team, I also realize there are several Kenneth Dixon's, better Kenneth Dixon's just hiding out there to be discovered in college programs that don’t feature the running back as a receiver like Louisiana Tech did. I watched tape of South Carolina’s Brandon Wilds, as an example, and also watched him at the NFL Combine and the NFLPA all-star game. Brandon Wilds is more gifted as a runner-receiver that Dixon is...just watching them on tape. However, Wilds was not used as heavily as Dixon. Some of that is on the South Carolina offense, some of it is on Wild’s random injuries. The point being, I think I can find Kenneth Dixon's all over, so I’d be wary of overpaying for the established numbers when it may be that an average-to-good running back talent (Dixon) is getting inflated because of his gaudy college output. Again, we mock this with mid-major quarterbacks and wide receivers pumping numbers, we’re just not used to adjusting our ‘dials’ to it with receiving-running backs. Knowing I can probably find equal or better Kenneth Dixon's later, hiding in this draft, or even as undrafted free agents—I have to pass at the price Dixon will require in the NFL Draft.

NFL Outlook:   

I bet Kenneth Dixon has a really nice NFL career, early, and makes an instant impact—he might be the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2016, because of his receiving skills. He's not the best rookie RB, but he might have the best stats out of the gates among rookie--led by his receiving numbers. A team is likely to draft Dixon on purpose, highly, because they want a ‘cool’ high-end receiving running back like the other teams; like the Patriots. They will take Dixon with the express purpose of using him, overusing him in the passing game. Dixon is a gifted receiving talent for the NFL level, so he should produce just fine. I just don’t think Dixon will ever be a runner of the ball that anyone really cares about, nor should they—his gift is in the route passing game. His career will be determined how committed the coaching staff and quarterback are to throwing him the ball, a lot.