*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.

 

By the time of this study/writing, I have done a deeper study of the top RB prospect names in the 2022 NFL Draft. There's been a running theme of these RB studies, so far – after previewing the top RBs pre-Combine, I ended up thinking they were all B-C-D grade workers without a ton of real 'live' speed/pop, and then they all ran like track stars at the Combine…a bunch of shocking 4.3s and 4.4s, but after doing the deeper tape study on those speedsters, I'm still scratching my head (mostly) because I don't see 4.3s and 4.4s on the field, on the tape.

Seriously…the 2022 Combine results are either a giant fraud or the era of the super (Combine) athlete has begun. The 40 and 10-yard times are freakish, historically freakish. However, one-by-one I go back through the tape of their career, and I don't really see this super speed in their play. At one moment, I'm wondering if I've just 'lost it', as a scout…or maybe my eyes are going bad, and the next I'm buying into a giant conspiracy theory on the times…that they can't be true.

So, as I work my way down the consensus RB rankings of these freakish speedsters, I hit Isiah Pacheco…the fastest of all the freakazoid RB 40-times (tied with Pierre Strong), a guy 'so fast' he had a 3.9 yards per carry senior season and a 4.3 yards per carry college career on 563 carries. How are these speed times possible with these flimsy/OK/good college career outputs? But I dutifully marched on with my study.

I'm glad I did, because I think I stumbled onto a contender for best RB prospect of the 2022 draft class. I mean, like potentially the 'best in class'. Like…a 'get excited', finally, type of RB prospect for the NFL.

I'm going to try land a plane here, with the words upcoming…not sure if I can stick the landing just right but I'm gonna try to convey what I'm seeing that (I think) most every scout is going to miss…with the risk that I'm the fool. However, I got a pretty good track record when I'm hanging out on a scouting limb, so here goes…

There will be all kinds of throwaway scouting on Pacheco out there, and no matter what style an individual or group leans on to evaluate draft prospects – they all seem to yield the same echo chamber result = Pacheco is not a top five RB prospect…not a top 10 one either. He's a nobody across the board out in draft-land.

Sampling a few scouting sites/services I check out to see where they rank prospects (and listing the results in order I randomly chose to look for them:

#1 random look: Not listed among their 50 or so top RBs, not in their top 400 overall prospects (may be an oversight?)

#2 random look: Between #160-170 overall, the 13th ranked RB

#3 random look: #16 RB, between #250-300 overall

Mainstream sites…

CBS = not in their top 20+ RBs, #41 RB overall…not in their top 350 overall (#370)

Yahoo = #18 RB, #173 overall

 

In the more draftnik-y websites, Pacheco will for sure (along with 50-60+ other prospects in the draft) be labeled a 'sleeper'.

Analytics based draftnik sites will love his 40 yard dash time (4.37) and 10-yard time (1.49), plus his 27 rep bench press. His SPARQ score is probably terrific (haven't checked, because I don't care about SPARQ scores. I have my own speed-agility metrics evolved over a decade of refinements, which are far more predictive than SPARQ.). But even with wonderful Combine testing results, somehow no one really cares about Pacheco. No matter what scouting theory they run with, the national rankers who adjusted their rankings after his Combine place him around the #15-20 ranked RB and #160-200 overall…and for the ones who don't adjust post-Combine, Pacheco basically doesn't exist, they ranked him as a nobody January-February and haven't changed…either from laziness or apathy.

There is no real heat on Pacheco, and yet here I am proposing he might be the single best RB prospect in the draft. Why? What's causing the divergence?

I believe what makes Pacheco such a great prospect is something you have to see ahead of the curve…something you have to translate, imagine as an experienced scout – and that's risky. Risky in that it would be easy to say 'sleeper' and cover your bases. I'm not doing that…I'm shoving a lot of chips into the middle and saying, 'possible best' and going to rank him as such not just mention it's 'possible' (and you'll see our grades below, coming up in a few sections, to confirm how high we're going on him).

NFL Draft prospect ranking is usually about a 'me too' movement. Whichever way the herd is heading, everyone from the media, and thus the fans, head in that same direction…as if it's original thought. Every draft prospect ranker, from analytics-based to the college postseason all-star game jock sniffers, to tape watchers, to 'me too' armchair scouts have come to the same conclusion – Pacheco doesn't really matter. Why? Because they look at Pacheco's college career and see a 3.9 yards per carry average in his senior year, and a 4.3 yards per carry career average – and immediately write him off as 'has-been' or underachiever.

I have to be honest; I thought the same thing the first time I previewed him pre-Combine. It's the easiest scouting to do, and it's usually right – low performance in college…it's a sign of trouble. And when you watch game tape, you'll see low output carries to back up the real yards per carry.

But, when I started really digging into Pacheco more deeply, going through his career tape and results – I believe I've discovered something. I almost missed it. I had my mind pre-made up that this study session would be me doing a standard report on debunking another one of these 4.3-running RB prospects/frauds, and then moving on to the next fraud. But it didn't happen that way.

I started watching the Pacheco tape and looking to see if the Combine speed would show on tape, because it hasn't been showing for me on other 4.3-4.4 running, bigger framed guys like D'Vonte PriceBreece HallRachaad White, etc. But I started to see 'it' with Pacheco…more the kind of speed the NFL Combine was reporting. I saw an ability to take a run that started inside then kick it outside and beat the defenders to the edge in a sprint. I saw an ability to take runs off-tackle, find a seam and shoot past the first level with open space and defenders converging – and that Pacheco was likely gonna pull away and beat them in a sprint. This is the first real dangerous, moments of a 'wow' (on speed/size) RB that I've scouted in 2022.

I want to show a couple of plays to draw you into the possibilities here. I am going to start a longer video at the play I'd like you to watch. You're gonna wanna keep letting the tape roll, but just watch the one play for a moment, we'll get to a more expanded video in a bit. Just take in this appetizer of his breakaway speed ability:

Just the one play to watch, it will open up to it (at 0:50)…rewind and rewatch…just observe/pause the tape as Pacheco breaks through the first level and notice where the defenders are around him, and watch him hit the gas and sail right by them/right through the heart of them. As a freshman vs. Northwestern: https://youtu.be/7caL0H42fTk?t=50

Again, another TD run as a freshman…this time vs. #4 ranked Michigan, and remember that Rutgers was one of the worst teams in college football, a doormat in the Big Ten. Watch the safety on this play (freeze at 1:19 if you can to see a still shot of the situation): https://youtu.be/7caL0H42fTk?t=75

I know it's against UMass (he had 4 TDs on the day), but this is pretty: https://youtu.be/7caL0H42fTk?t=108

I just wanted to wet your whistle here a bit. Get the juices flowing on what might be here…hiding among the RB class.

The runner that comes to mind when I watched a ton of tape, a comp for Pacheco – Adrian Peterson. Size, speed, strength, ability to get outside, upright style-but to his advantage with great balance, with an ability to find his way through the interior and pull away from defenders almost catching them by surprise with how fast he was really moving.

The issue with Pacheco's scouting/ranking among draft analysts is…the 'it' is 'hiding' from them. I believe his talents are being hidden behind the dark cloud of a terrible Rutgers team – and this is where I am taking a scouting risk (but I am a professional…), and this is where analytics scouts or social media mention chasers, etc., cannot find this type of RB, and thus they will not consider him close to the top 3-5 in this 2022 RB draft class. You have to watch, essentially, his whole career on tape, maybe over several days to 'get it', to 'feel it'…to walk a mile in Pacheco's shoes to get the perspective.

In Pacheco's freshman year, 2018, the Scarlet Knights went (1-11) overall and (0-9) in conference.

In Pacheco's sophomore year, 2019, the Scarlet Knights went (2-10) overall and (0-9) in conference.

In Pacheco's junior year, 2020, Greg Schiano showed up in COVID season and took over this hot mess, and the Scarlet Knights went (3-6) overall and (3-6) in conference.

In Pacheco's senior year, 2021, the Scarlet Knights went (5-8) overall and (2-7) in conference.

Four years, a combined (11-35) overall record and a (5-31) Big Ten record.

Do you know how bad you have to be in order to be (5-31) in a four-year stretch in a major conference? Can you imagine the hot garbage this team has had in recruiting classes? Can you imagine the QBs Pacheco had to play with? Can you imagine how bad the O-Line talent was that Pacheco had to work behind?

Recruiting classes constantly ranked 60-75th or worse during Pacheco's early years. Greg Schiano is turning that around now, but just in time for Pacheco to be leaving. Here's how bad the QB play and the whole offense was during Pacheco's time at Rutgers…

*Offensive rank = points per game of 130 D1 schools

2018: The 130th ranked offense (yes, dead last), the QBs/team threw for a combined 5 TDs/22 INTs.

2019: The 129th ranked offense, the QBs/team threw for a combined 7 TDs/15 INTs.

2020: The 80th ranked offense, the QBs/team threw for a combined 14 TDs/9 INTs.

2021: The 120th ranked offense, the QBs/team threw for a combined 9 TDs/10 INTs.

I mean…that's a disaster. 35 TD passes in four years, 35 TDs/56 INTs – is that not unbelievable for a power conference school? Kenny Pickett had 42 TD passes alone last season. Rutgers had a bottom ten in the nation offense in three of Pacheco's four-year stint.  

You expect Pacheco to make a run at a Heisman in these surroundings?

After watching Pacheco's tape and seeing his Combine numbers -- I asked myself an interesting hypothetical…what if Pacheco and Breece Hall swapped schools and had their college careers, and then we found out their Combine speed times? Would we all think Pacheco to be a 'top guy' and Hall to be some rando, pedestrian day-three 'sleeper' (at best)?

I'd argue that had they lived out this 'school-swap', we'd probably consider Pacheco better than Breece in that make believe world. Let that sit for a moment. The only reason the NFL…or the typical fan…worships Breece Hall and doesn't really know who Pacheco is, or why he spells his first name wrong, is their surrounding situations.

Why do you bristle at a Hall v. Pacheco comparison? Because we're brainwashed on constant Hall media coverage and Pacheco media non-existence.

5'11"/218, 4.39 40-time, 1.52 10-yard, 40" vertical, 10'6" broad = Breece Hall

5'10"/216, 4.37 40-time, 1.49 10-yard, 33" vertical, 9'10" broad = Isiah Pacheco

Both guys move at a similar pace…slight edge to Pacheco. Hall didn't do a bench press at the Combine or Pro Day, but I'll bet it wouldn't be close to Pacheco's 27 reps.

Check out the first 5 seconds of this 1+ minute video, or watch it all, but I'm noting the first 5 seconds – for a visual on Pacheco's upper body: https://youtu.be/Gnvey9qPs64

That upper body runs a 4.37 40-time…and can bench 27 reps. Pacheco's bench rep count was tied for 4th best at the Combine…among offensive linemen. It is currently tied for #1 among all RBs Combine or Pro Day (with Hassan Haskins). I'm not saying Hall is some weakling by comparison, but I am saying Pacheco has at least an equal body/athleticism for the RB position – and that potentially, all that separates them is their choice of college…and about 100-200 draft spot projections, currently.

OK, the obvious question you've been asking in your mind – If Pacheco is so good, why didn't he bail on Rutgers…especially in this era of CFB player free agency with the transfer portal? Good question, but better answer – he is loyal to Rutgers/New Jersey…for good reason.

When asked (after the disastrous 2019 Rutgers season, where the coach was getting dumped and players were leaving) if he (Pacheco) was going to transfer (like a bunch of other teammates were), he answered: "Whoever is in the portal is in the portal," Pacheco told NJ.com. "I don't have anything to do with what's going on here. Hey, if they're in it, they're in it. But all I know is I've got my brother's back, he's got my back, we're going to keep rolling and try to turn this thing around and get ready for the offseason.

He goes on to say, "I bleed Rutgers. I love Rutgers. This is just what I do. There was never any doubt. I'm not going anywhere. I've got it tatted on me, Jersey. I'm a Jersey guy. I'm not going anywhere. I'm a Scarlet Knight forever."

Pacheco has his family, mom and dad and siblings, in Jersey. He wanted to stay with them/stay close. He's lost two siblings to ugly murder/violence in the past few years. He's played through it all. He's worked his ass off and stayed loyal. You think he's dumb not to leave, to better his future? Maybe he was, but I know this -- he's an Academic All-Big Ten player. I know he's a team captain. He's no dummy…and he's not anyone to be messed with. He's an ultra-dedicated worker on his body and craft and his upbringing has him loyal to family and school, and scared of no one…and it all translates in his play – a fearless, tough, athletic runner…and, yes, staying with Rutgers hurt his career. But should we not applaud the refreshing loyalty? And shouldn't we imagine the possibilities or 'what ifs' he had gone to a better college situation?

Pacheco checks all the boxes…

Size.

Speed/High-end Combine. Solid agility, good shimmy in the open field, nice cutback running ability.

Strength, toughness, good balance as a runner.

Decent blocker, and good hands in the passing game (and, again, his QBs could barely complete screen passes).

Off-field 'A' in leadership and work ethic.

 

The only box he doesn't check is – statistical performance, yards per carry comparisons. And I totally get that, I won't minimize the importance, but that leads to the question each evaluator must answer: are the lower performance numbers a function of his inability, issues as a runner…or was it circumstantial, a terrible team around him?

If you 'blame' him, he should be a 6th-7th-round pick who could be something with his 4.37 speed…maybe a special teamer?

If you blame the situation…then the sky is the limit on the 'what if' he transferred to Clemson or Ole Miss or Texas or wherever.

After 2019 season, co-starter RB at Rutgers, Raheem Blackshear, transferred. He had just come off a 3.0 ypc season (just 4 games for him) and a 2018 as the #1 back in the Rutgers RBBC -- 12 games, 586 yards, a lowly 4.1 ypc. In 2021, Blackshear took over as the starter for Va Tech and averaged a more proper 5.7 yards per carry on 133 totes. What might have been if the far superior Pacheco had transferred to a school of his choosing?

What would we think of Isiah Pacheco today if he transferred to the SEC or whatever bigger school after 2019? What seasons might he have had in 2020-2021? How high would we rank him for the draft after better performances on a bigger stage and then running in the 4.3s at 216 pounds of pure muscle?

Isn't that what we as scouts are supposed to consider…imagine?

Scouts and analysts are all imagining (for good or bad) top college guys into the NFL, but if you ask them to imagine a guy like Pacheco working for Clemson or Florida, anywhere better than awful Rutgers, and the same scouts and analysts are offended at the 'slippery slope' of such thoughts. I don't get it…our whole job is imagining, projecting things.

The Pacheco backstory in 7 minutes: https://youtu.be/mTemTLUmvtM

 

 

Isiah Pacheco, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

 

It's not even worth time pointing out his statistical performance trends, when I'm going to throw them out/adjust them for a better idea of what he might be had he gone literally about anywhere else for his college play – and, again, this is very dangerous. I'm not trusting the science/metrics…I'm trusting the R.C. eyeball experience. We'll see if I'm right.

 

 -- Six 100+ yard rushing games in his career, two of them against Michigan…including in 2021, against the best Michigan defense of the past four years in near upset of the Wolverines last year (Rutgers lost 20-13, Pacheco had 20 carries for 107 hard-fought yards…while his QB was 9 of 16 for 163 yards passing, FYI)

 -- Side note on output, the Rutgers' QBs were so awful…but note the starter in 2020-2021 (Noah Vedral) has a license to run in the spread option offense…and he took a ton of carries away from Pacheco…carries he should have just trusted to Pacheco because Vedral sucked.

 

You can get an idea of Pacheco's career in this game tape of Pacheco vs. Michigan 2021…the best defense he faced, with his garbage surroundings. Notice the no-space to work most touches. Notice his effort through it all. Notice his blocking out Aidan Hutchinson.

After watching his stonewalling early, watch how he takes all that punishment and starts to dominate Michigan in the 4th-quarter with some real NFL-level runs.

https://youtu.be/veJmxXCuXBI

 

2022 NFL Combine/Pro Day Measurables:

5'10"/216

9.25" hands, 30.5" arms

4.37 40-time, 2.53 20-yard, 1.49 10-yard

27 bench reps (Pro Day), 33" vertical, 9'10" broad

4.27 shuttle, 7.09 three-cone (Pro Day)

Combine quick footage: https://youtu.be/I7Xj02UYaVw

 

 

The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Isiah Pacheco Most Compares Within Our System:

 

A shorter Adrian Peterson. Runs with similar upright, strong style that keeps moving forward not stopping/blinking in traffic or with tacklers coming at him.

I liked the Peterson comp until I saw the computer go with Rashaad Penny, and that made a ton of sense too…maybe more sense, more current comp-ing.

A Peterson-Penny hybrid is interesting.

 

RB Score

RB-Re

RB-ru

Last

First

College

Yr

H

H

W

Speed Metric

Agility Metric

Power Metric

8.210

6.79

8.19

Pacheco

Isiah

Rutgers

2022

5

10.3

216

12.14

5.30

7.56

7.287

5.80

6.71

Penny

Rashaad

San Diego St

2018

5

11.0

220

9.59

5.54

7.09

10.759

7.56

10.91

Peterson

Adrian

Oklahoma

2007

6

1.4

217

12.01

3.96

7.56

7.204

7.91

7.80

Lynch

Marshawn

California

2007

5

11.1

215

9.79

3.16

8.28

8.010

6.20

7.62

Maroney

Lawrence

Minnesota

2006

5

11.7

217

7.72

7.40

7.63

10.514

7.56

10.61

Taylor

Jonathan

Wisconsin

2020

5

10.2

226

13.37

8.67

8.35

 

*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 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.

 

 

2022 NFL Draft Outlook:

The draft rankings are all over the board with Pacheco…from 5th-round and beyond to UDFA. I suspect I'm not the only person to take notice of the 'what might be' and Pacheco will go 5th-round. This report may help…like we 'might' have helped Roy Lopez and Jalen Camp last year. Perhaps the Houston guys are reading this. Hi, guys! Good job ditching Deshaun. Good job not listening to me on Davis Mills. You guys could be a surprise decent team this season…just keep reading my reports for your day three and UDFA grabs, at minimum!

If I were an NFL GM, and I wanted a running back from this draft…for the cost and for all-around backs…I am taking either Tyler Allgeier or Isiah Pacheco. I like Kevin Harris too, but more as a strong style specialist. Pacheco especially is too good an all-around athlete, and future locker room leader to pass on for the price.

 

 

NFL Outlook:   

This is where I worry… Draft stock follows NFL opportunity, usually. It will be easy for an NFL team to treat a day three pick like Pacheco as a possible practice squad stash…and not given the keys to the car like a Breece Hall will be. It's not fair, but it's reality.

I think in due time, whether it's right away or it takes 2-3 years before he gets his shot – there's something very good here for the NFL. It might be a 'B' or 'C' grade 'fine'…but there's some hint he could try and rise up to an 'A' grade back with his athleticism, size, and work ethic…if he lands right. Here's to hoping he does. He deserves a good landing place.

 

A 25-minute compilation tape of Pacheco's career in a chronological order, if you care to get more time in observing his capabilities: https://youtu.be/n1M6dhrTJd8