*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.


Here’s the best introduction I can give as to why we’re doing a scouting report on RB prospect Kene (Ken-nay) Nwangwu

1) Kene Nwangwu ran a 4.32 40-time at his Pro Day…one of the five fastest Pro Day times of 2021. His 1.45 10-yard dash…would be one of/the fastest we’ve seen in 2021 (and one of the fastest historically). Nwangwu has a track background/ability as does his family – so, there is some logic to these speed times.

When you put a 6.83 three-cone with it…it means ‘real’ movement skills here.

When you add 22 bench press reps and a 38” vertical at 6’0”/210 pounds – you might be talking about the single best (fastest, most athletic) prospect of the 2021 draft class, regardless of position.

2) Instead of typing about ‘speed’ and ‘movement’ skills, I should just show this play from 2020 (at the 7:30 mark, and when you click it should open right up to it): https://youtu.be/BxU02w9tY-k?t=450

Listen to Mike Golic’s guttural sound/reaction as it happens and then his analysis when they do the replay.

My jaw has not dropped many times this 2021 scouting season watching anything – but that TD run was one of those times.

Ok, I know…you’re waiting for ‘the catch’. Superhuman speed…and you’ve barely or never heard/seen him mentioned as a top RB prospect…or as any type of prospect. You’re right - there is a catch.

You may have noticed in that video clip, Nwangwu ran for that score with his team up 28-0 already. It was only his 2nd-3rd touch of the game by that point…because he was the backup RB for Iowa State. Nwangwu was a senior in 2020 (four-year player, five years with the program), and he wound up as the Cyclones’ backup RB.

To be fair, he was the backup to Breece Hall…2020 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

To be fairer, though, Nwangwu has never been an Iowa State starter…or an important part of the offense. He’s been a good kick returner (top 3 in KR average all four of his seasons in the Big 12). All that athletic talent, and he was always a limited touch guy -- with just 7 catches total in 48 career games. Iowa State made no effort to make him an offensive weapon.

So, is it because Nwangwu got screwed over by coaching…or is he just content to be a backup/is a backup talent? Matt Campbell has been the head coach for all of Nwangwu’s seasons at ISU, and many NFL teams would like to hire Campbell – so, I’m not sure we can leap to a quick conclusion that the coach is the problem. However, a guy with Nwangwu’s talent…Campbell could find ways to get him innovative touches like jet sweeps or throw him into the passing game as a WR a bit, no?

The entire scouting dilemma/evaluation here is based off the one key question – was Nwangwu’s career backup status an oversight…or just the simple reality of his existence (good athlete, so-so football player with so-so motivations)?

I don’t think it’s a character thing – Nwangwu is a three-time 1st-team all-Academic Big 12 and was the 2020 Big 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. He was a permanent team captain. He was often referred to as ‘the heart and soul’ of the team. That’s high praise…it’s also confusing that a guy can be that beloved and not really get more of a shot/more of a role.

Trying to watch his play…it’s tough. He’s getting few carries and fewer targets. He seemed to be a good return man, not a chicken…not a track star playing football who didn’t like getting hit. Most of his carries were up the interior of the line. I rarely saw him get used out in space – which is so bizarre that he wouldn’t be with his speed. He seemed to catch the ball fine, but not enough tape to definitely know.

The answer to whether this is a coaching or player issue…

The honest answer is…

I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone truly knows, even if they think they do.

My lean is that Nwangwu doesn’t live and die for football and was content to focus on his studies and being a part of the team in any way as a leader and for his friends. He’s just a good guy, who might not bleed for football. He doesn’t have much tape to point at and go – why aren’t they using him more? He had a dull ISU career with too many of his career carries late in games that were ‘over’.

…but part of me really wants to get my hands on him (in the NFL, as a GM) and unwrap this present…take the leash off and watch him go.

That’s the thing… There are like five (UNC RB) Michael Carters in every draft. There’s rare/no Kene Nwangwus. We’re talking like some Tyreek Hill type speed movement here…considering Nwangwu is moving around at 210 pounds.

The five fastest 2020 NFL Combine times were:

4.27 = Henry Ruggs, at 188 pounds.

4.29 = Javelin Guidry, at 190 pounds.

4.35 = Quez Watkins, at 185 pounds.

4.37 = L’Jarius Sneed, at 192 pounds

4.38 = Darnell Mooney, at 176 pounds

4.38 = Denzel Mims, at 207 pounds.

All of the high end 4.3 times done by players at 176-192 pounds, except for Mims. Nwangwu’s 4.3s at 210 pounds is impressive.

However, the 4.3s running RBs (4.39s) from 2020 were Jonathan Taylor and Antonio Gibson…both at 225+ pounds. No 2021 RB is going clock anywhere near the size/speed of Taylor and Gibson – what they did in 2020 was special. Nwangwu is nothing like Taylor or Gibson as RBs, however.

But speaking of Antonio Gibson – a kick returner and limited target WR for 3.5 seasons at Memphis. A virtual failure, many would say, for 3.5 seasons…a nobody. Then Gibson got a few carries on jet sweeps and wildcats late in his final college season -- and he was awesome with a few touches, but still not pushed as the lead back…he wasn’t even thought of as the #2 back for Memphis as he started to dominate. Gibson converted to RB after college, at the Senior Bowl…and then he was the starting RB for Washington 6+ months later to start his rookie NFL season. This from a guy who never really played RB.

The Antonio Gibson story is why I am drooling over the possibilities of a Kene Nwangwu ‘in the right hands’ at the next level story.

But my scouting/player visions, and those of the NFL…often the twain do not meet. Mostly guys off-the-grid, get treated like they don’t exist, and die off-the-grid.


Kene Nwangwu, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

 -- 10+ carries in a game just twice in his career. 11 carries in 2020 vs. Kansas State was his career high carries…and he rushed for all of 16 yards with that. 

 -- This super-fast human averaged just 4.9 and 4.0 yards per carry his first two seasons of college play. Not good. Head scratching. 

 -- 100-yard kickoff return TD as a true freshman, then never returned one for a score again the rest of his career. 

 -- Did not score his first rushing TD until game one of his 2020 senior season. 

 -- 7 catches in 48 games. One catch in his senior season. 2 catches in a game was his career high. 

 -- TD runs in 2020: from 1-yard out, 49, 18, and 47 yards. He started showing the homerun ability in 2020. Their 2nd game of 2020, vs. TCU, one carry for 49 yards…a TD where he just outran everyone off tackle. He never got a carry the rest of the game…a tight game against a good defense. 

Coaching or Nwangwu?

2021 Pro Day:

6’0.1”/210, 9.25” hands, 30.5” arms

4.32 40-time, 1.45 10-yd, 2.56 20-yd

4.23 shuttle, 6.83 three-cone

22 bench reps, 38” vertical, 10’5” broad jump

The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Kene Nwangwu Most Compares Within Our System:

In 2019, Ty Johnson shocked the scouting world (for a few days) with a 4.3+ 40-time (that some said was 4.2s)…and that got him drafted but he’s bounced around the league since. ‘Really fast’ at a Pro Day isn’t a guarantee of anything…but at least you’ll get a shot or two with that kind of speed. Anyone remember what Raymond Calais is up to these days? Anyone remember how excitingly fast he was last year entering the draft?

RB Score










Speed Metric

Agility Metric

Power Metric






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Ab Christ








*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 = 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 =  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.

2021 NFL Draft Outlook:

Most draft rating sites don’t have Nwangwu listed anywhere in their top 500+ players…like why do you even have draft rankings if this profile isn’t top 500…or 300, etc.? Who is steering the ship at these places? Credit CBS sports for having him #177 overall…a sudden shift AFTER we pushed Nwangwu up on our RB-s board a week or so ago. Funny how prescient CBS is on off-the-grid guys like this each year…soon AFTER we pushed them/graded them well. I’m not bitter…yes, I am.

My guess would be that Nwangwu is drafted 7th-round…and is not a UDFA.

If I were an NFL GM, if I met with Nwangwu and felt good about his football mindset…I’d draft him 5th/6th-round – and then explore what I have. Is he just an RB…what about a WR or WR/RB…or what if he is a natural cornerback at 6’0”/210…or a free safety? I’ll take a shot here day three where other teams are drafting 3rd-string guards for O-Line depth.

NFL Outlook:   

No clue.

NFL history says he’ll get little chance on offense and be a kick returner, and then forgotten.

However, the Antonio Gibson story…and the Tyreek Hill story to some degree, gives us hope that good fortune will shine down on him and he becomes a gem from this class as coaches get hold of talent and change it around to a different role and strike gold.

…or you could set a day three draft pick on fire and take Kylin Hill or Chris Evans, etc., instead.