With the Combine season finally finished, so have my player evaluations. I will share them in the form of my annual positional rankings, beginning with a Running Back class that is unparalleled for top end talent in recent memory. These rankings are purely my own, based on my personal evaluation of the player’s game tape and measurables. I do not take popular consensus in to consideration, so these rankings do not necessarily represent the feelings of scouts or how high these players will be drafted. They simply represent my best evaluation of the available prospects. Without further ado, here is my first positional ranking of 2019.
Top 10 Running Backs
10. Jeshrun Antwi, Calgary Dinos
Height: 6’0 / Weight: 205lbs
Antwi provides an intriguing prospect for CFL teams. He has showed flashes as a raw, one-cut runner in an offence more routinely focused on the passing game. His frame and measurable are that of an athletic developmental prospect. Look for Antwi to cut his teeth on special teams while he gains some seasoning at the professional level.
9. Levondre Gordon, Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
Height: 5’9 / Weight: 189lbs
One of the most productive runners in USports, Gordon lacks the ideal size that teams’ look for. He makes up for it with impressive vision, hitting holes decisively with impressive speed. Despite his small stature, Gordon’s 21 bench reps shows he has the strength required to hold up in professional football.
8. Jeremie Lardi, Sherbrooke Vert et Or
Height: 6’0 / Weight: 227lbs
Lardi fits the mold of the Sherbrooke gym rat, dominating opponents with strength and power. He is a dominant force on special teams, impenetrable as a blocker and formidable in coverage. For a man of such imposing physicality, Lardi exhibits surprisingly soft hands and can pose a threat out of the backfield.
7. Gabriel Polan, Sherbrooke Vert et Or
Height: 6’2 / Weight: 220lbs
Polan is the ideal depth Canadian rusher. He is a violent downhill runner with a lethal jumpcut but equally excels as a passblocker. Polan will be a dominant player on special teams from Day One and will be coveted for his versatility.
6. Mario Villamizar, Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
Height: 6’2 / Weight: 232lbs
Villamizar is an efficient blocker who plays with a nasty edge, using violent hands and finishing on top of his opponents. He is comfortable playing at both tight end and fullback, showing impressive release in the passing game for a man of his frame. Villamizar could be an early contributor for the team that drafts him due to his special teams’ upside.
5. Alexandre Savard, Laval Rouge et Or
Height: 6’5 / Weight: 242lbs
Savard is an intriguing prospect who has garnered significant NFL interest but, like Antony Auclair before him, he is a pure tight end more valuable to the American game than the Canadian one. Injured throughout combine season, there are no recent numbers to back up his freakish athleticism but much of his hype comes from his measurables and not production. He will be a H-back if he ends up on a CFL field but has much to learn about the role.
4. Maleek Irons, Ohio Bobcats
Height: 6’0 / Weight: 216lbs
Irons is a north-south power back who excels between the tackles. While he lacks the variety of tools in his arsenal that other backs in this draft possess, Irons is extremely reliable due to his straight-line speed and will provide yards after contact. Irons will make an exceptional #2 back for any CFL team.
3. Nikola Kalinic, York Lions
Height: 6’4 / Weight: 245lbs
Kalinic is a true H-back and the best one in the draft. He is a rabid dog as a run blocker, making up for raw technique by attacking with an unparalleled zeal. Kalinic is as strong a receiver as many slotbacks and will add that element to the team that drafts him. He will make his money doing the dirty work and battling on special teams, an arena in which he was routinely double-teamed in college.
2. Jamel Lyles, Manitoba Bisons
Height: 5’11 / Weight: 202lbs
Lyles may be the most complete running back in the 2019 draft. A shifty runner with an impressive arsenal of cuts, there are few tacklers that he can’t make miss in space. Lyles is equally effective as a receiver out of the backfield and can contribute as a kick returner. Lyles may be used in a slot role similar to Anthony Coombs or as a dual-threat back like Andrew Harris.
1. Brady Oliveira, North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Height: 5’10 / Weight: 228lbs
Oliveira is a starting calibre CFL running back. Equally dangerous between the tackles and bouncing outside, Oliveira runs with a controlled fury that leaves bodies in his wake. While he plays faster than he tests, Oliveira shows elite change of direction and strength that rivals any lineman in the draft. He is an every down back who will contribute equally as a runner, receiver and pass blocker.