*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.

The more I watched Trey Sermon’s work for this study, the more he won me over.

It’s not an easy scouting assessment on Sermon – for every good profile item, there’s a troubling one.

AMAZING last few/three games for Ohio State, but all meh/duds (first 4 games for OSU) right before that. Then just as he got hot late 2020, he got hurt on the first play of the National Title game and didn’t return.

He started to click at Oklahoma (2017-2019) as a freshman but was never ‘the guy’ after three seasons -- and transferred out, leaving in underwhelming fashion.

Great three-cone (6.84)…but then meh/OK 40-time (4.61).

Looks like a big bruiser RB who is probably over 220+ pounds…but came in at 215 at his Pro Day and at the Senior Bowl.

So, what’s the deal with Sermon?

I have previously taken a neutral/shoulder shrug stance with Sermon – I saw some good but was worried there was too much ‘bad’ pressuring him into ‘forgettable’. But the more I dig into it – the ‘bad’ isn’t as bad as I thought and there’s more ‘good’ than I realized. To a degree, Sermon can be whoever you want him to be...

If you see him as a forgettable 215-pound, 4.6+ running RB who couldn’t consistently star at Oklahoma or Ohio State – I can see why someone would think that, and you may not be wrong.

If you fawn over Sermon because of his 331-yard rushing game domination of Northwestern in the Big Ten title game in 2020 – you aren’t crazy, just maybe a bit too much ‘all in’ on one game that’s enjoyable to watch/hold up as ‘see, he’s great’. Watch him against Nebraska or Penn State 2020, and you’re not as excited.

Here’s why I am turning ‘pro’ (not anti), as a scout, on Trey Sermon

-Plays bigger than 215-pounds. Sermon plays more in the style of Ronald Jones - the NFL bulked up version of RoJo – a runner of reckless abandon, a bucking bronco to try to tackle. He’s going to be fine at 215-pounds, and likely to bulk up to a muscular 220 pounds (if he is smart, he’s doing that right now).

Sermon runs tough. Always getting a few extra feet, minimum, on his runs. Very good balance taking hits and maintaining an ability to keep going forward. ‘Runs tough’ is a legit/deserved label. Honestly, I think he’s a tougher runner at 215-pounds than Najee Harris at 230…style-wise, effort-wise. Harris sometimes runs like he’s a multimillionaire protecting his brand/body. Sermon always runs the ball like he’s made a jail break and the authorities are after him – he’s not stopping or hesitating and if you’re in his way he’s going to try to get by…by any means necessary.

-Sermon ran a 4.61 40-time. Not ‘a burner’, but acceptable, and his style doesn’t need to be a burner. His game is 0-10 yards. In fact, a nugget is hiding among the so-so 4.61 40-time, in that 0-10 yards mindset – because Sermon was clocked at 1.49 for the 10-yard dash. How good is that? It’s the second-best of any RB’s Pro Day in 2021. Only Kene Nwangwu ran faster 0-10 yards (1.45). Sermon is stud for initial speed/burst…which is what his game is.

-Throw in a high-end 6.84 three-cone along with the 1.49 10-yd pop – and you got a lethal between the tackles runner. He has very shifty feet in close quarters…he makes a little shift/hop running in the interior, to avoid a hit, and keeps going/earning…even if it’s taking a 1-2 yard run and making it into a 3-4-5 yards one –which may be ‘boring’ for fanboys, but has a ton of value… it is a gift, one the NFL appreciates more than the fans.

-You love those Najee Harris long arms, right? 33.4” arms…best in the RB class. Well, tied for the best…with Trey Sermon (but…Najee 81” wingspan over Sermon 79”). Sermon has long arms like Najee, and like Najee, he’s a pretty good receiver. I was surprised by how good a receiver Sermon is. He didn’t get much of a chance to show it because I think everyone sees him as an interior pounder and Justin Fields is not a swing pass/check down QB.


My biggest worry is -- why couldn’t Sermon seize the day at Oklahoma? Why didn’t he break out more there? In 2019, Sermon had a minor tear of his MCL and tried to play through it some and totally lost his ‘tough runner’ spot to Rhamondre Stevenson. Before that, Sermon could never get past OU #1 back Kennedy Brooks for the main touches. Sermon was always ‘sharing’ at OU, and was the ‘lesser’ in the share. At OSU, he was sharing with the established Master Teague – but, to Sermon’s credit, he did seize the day (eventually) – Sermon was the main back for OSU over Teague, down the stretch into the playoffs.

Sermon may have just been overlooked, pigeonholed or just on depth charts too deep to ever really become ‘the man’ at OU or OSU. Because outside of that oddity (never being ‘the man’ for a full season), Sermon really brings a lot to the table – and a lot of it is subtle/easy for coaches to overlook. At first glance, he doesn’t seem like a feature back or good in the passing game…more just a bruiser…but he has more to give/offer, I believe.

When you watch him against Clemson 2020…there’s some ‘wow’ to his subtleness – but also having the advantage of killer blocking with OSU. That’s probably Sermon’s fate in the NFL – as good as the opportunity and blocking. He could be a backup for 2-3 years or if thrust into the spotlight, he might accidentally lead the league in rushing behind a good O-Line.

Trey Sermon, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

 -- Had a 17-game stretch before his 2020 OSU v. Michigan State game without rushing for 100+ yards in a game…then goes on a three game run with 112, 331, and 193 yards rushing in a regular season game, followed by the Big Ten championship, followed by their 1st CFB playoff game. Then in the CFB title game, on the very first play for OSU, Sermon took an illegal (uncalled) hit to the shoulders and head, helmet-to-helmet, and then took more hits to bring him down, he landed down hard and got up and came off the field slowly, seemed OK, but soon found out he broke his collarbone. 

Had he played the Alabama game, and racked another huge rushing effort – he might be in the top 2-3 RB 2021 prospect discussion…maybe? 

This late-season 2020 stretch of goodness: 23.3 carries, 212.0 yards rushing per game, 9.1 ypc, 4 rushing TDs

 -- Career yards per carry: 6.5 ypc. 

Last two seasons ypc: 7.4 ypc.

 -- 3 receiving TDs in his career.

2021 Pro Day: 

6’0.3”/215, 9.4” hands, 33.4” arms

4.61 40-time, 2.62 20-yd, 1.49 10-yd

4.30 shuttle, 6.84 three-cone

37” vertical, 10’5” broad jump

No bench press due to the broken collarbone rehab

The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Trey Sermon Most Compares Within Our System:

Sermon comps mostly with grinder/plugger RBs who were not drafted highly, but were drafted, and were immediately backups but fought through to get in on touches and had varying degrees of success – but not consistent, high-end success. 

RB Score










Speed Metric

Agility Metric

Power Metric






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W Tex A&M





















*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 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 starting in 2015. 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 starting in 2015. Our new formula/rating that attempts to classify and quantify a 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.

2021 NFL Draft Outlook:

I mostly see Sermon ranked #100-150 overall in draft rankings and mock drafts, normally just outside the top 5 RBs taken. I assume that will be the reality – a 4th-round draft pick…a possible steal in the sense of which RBs go ahead of him at a much higher price.

If I were an NFL GM, I’m not super-into taking RBs top 100 or so…BUT if I were bent on taking a running back from this draft, like one who could be a starter, and I could either take Najee Harris in the late 1st-round or Sermon in the 4th-round…I take Sermon. Truth be told, I like the passion and effort and drive of Sermon compared to Najee (and most RBs are interchangeable RBBCs, in my opinion). I think Sermon runs tougher at 215-220 pounds than Harris at 230, and they both have long arms and can catch the ball.

If five years from now, we look back and Sermon was as good as Najee in the NFL…it wouldn’t shock me. That’s as much a comment on Harris as it is a praise of Sermon.

NFL Outlook:   

Like many guys not drafted top 30-50, Sermon will not be given anything. He’s going to have to earn it, force it, or take advantage of an injury to catapult him into the opportunity – and then he’ll have to seize it from there. 

I keep thinking of Melvin Gordon when I think of Sermon – guys who no one thinks are great (today), but they don’t think they are ‘bad’ either…they’re just ‘there’, useful, solid, tough, good effort, decently effective. Like a Mark Ingram or Jordan Howard used to be. Not guys going to the Hall of Fame, but they do have a couple decent years in the league. Sermon feels like that kind of ‘good hand’ guy, if/when he gets his chance…which may take 2-3 seasons.