Analyzing New York Jets running back Breece Hall’s strengths and weaknesses
Despite slipping into the second round of the 2022 NFL draft, where the New York Jets traded up to select him with the 36th overall pick, Iowa State running back Breece Hall is an elite running back prospect who has a strong chance of becoming a star in the NFL.
Let’s dig into some of the reasons that Hall has a superstar ceiling. After that, we’ll go into Hall’s overall profile as a player, analyzing some of his most notable strengths and weaknesses.
Breece Hall’s eye-popping comparisons suggest he has a bright future
Hall’s resume compares closely to some of the greatest running back prospects in recent memory. His slip down to the draft board was simply due to the league’s collective devaluation of the position. If he were coming out 10 years ago, he’d probably be a top 10 pick.
NFL Next Gen Stats calculates a metric for draft prospects called “overall draft score”, which is determined through the combination of a player’s collegiate production and his athletic profile.
Hall earned an overall draft score of 99. That tied Hall with Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum (selected 25th by Baltimore) for the best score in the 2022 draft class. It made him one of NGS’ seven “Can’t Miss” prospects, joining future Jets teammate Sauce Gardner.
Next Gen Stats' 2022 Can't Miss Prospects
🔹 Breece Hall, RB
🔹 Tyler Linderbaum, C
🔹 Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE
🔹 Evan Neal, OT
🔹 Ahmad Gardner, CB
🔹 Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE
🔹 Ickey Ekwonu, OT
"When the numbers match the tape…"
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) April 28, 2022
Hall became just the sixth running back since 2003 to earn a 99 overall draft score. He joins some outstanding company: Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, and Reggie Bush.
Iowa State running back Breece Hall (4.44u, 40" vertical @ 217 lbs) currently stands as 1 of 6 RBs since 2003 to earn an NGS overall score of a 99. The others:
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 5, 2022
Hall compares especially closely to Barkley, possessing similar speed and explosiveness numbers in addition to their 99 overall draft scores.
Iowa State running back Breece Hall (@MoveTheSticks #1 RB) has a similar athletic and overall profile to the 2018 2nd-overall pick, Saquon Barkley.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 5, 2022
Barkley’s career has been derailed by injuries, and the Giants’ decision to take him with the second overall pick was not wise, but Barkley was an instant superstar before his durability struggles. As a rookie, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 scrimmage yards.
Hall owns an incredible athletic profile that compares closely to many big-name running backs. He earned a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.96, meaning his athletic profile is better than 99.6% of running back prospects in the history of recorded testing data.
Jonathan Taylor, Adrian Peterson, and Edgerrin James are three of the most similar running backs to Hall from an athletic testing standpoint:
In terms of athleticism and build, James is the No. 1 most similar running back prospect to Hall in the entire RAS database. James is a Hall-of-Famer who ranks 16th all-time in career scrimmage yards.
Hall is slightly bigger than the average running back, standing at 5-foot-11 and 217 pounds. He showed off elite speed and burst with his 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash and a 1.52 time in the 10-yard split. His top-notch explosiveness was proven through a 40-inch vertical jump and a 126-inch broad jump.
Hall also has a sizable wingspan at 75⅞” (73rd percentile for running backs), giving him a unique catch radius for the position that he has used to his advantage in contested-catch situations. To boot, he has large hands, measuring at 9¾” (85th percentile for running backs). Those big mitts have helped him limit drops and fumbles.
The Jets already had one running back with elite elusiveness in Michael Carter. He led qualified NFL running backs with 0.295 missed tackles forced per touch in his 2021 rookie season.
Now, the Jets have another tackle-evading extraordinaire in Hall.
Carter’s rookie-year success in the elusiveness department was a direct translation of his overwhelming success in that area at North Carolina. Hall possesses a similar track record of elusiveness from his college days, suggesting he could match Carter’s successful transition in this facet of the game.
Hall forced 90 missed tackles in the 2021 season, ranking as the third-most among FBS running backs. He outperformed his volume of opportunities as he ranked seventh with 289 touches.
Overall, Hall forced 0.311 missed tackles per touch, placing at the 89th percentile among qualified FBS running backs.
Hall was tough to tackle in both phases of the game. As a rusher, Hall placed seventh at his position with 76 missed tackles forced, and as a receiver, Hall ranked fifth with 14 missed tackles forced.
Rushing usage and effectiveness
Hall is ready to hit the ground running in the Jets’ wide-zone running scheme. According to Pro Football Focus, 73.8% of Hall’s career carries at Iowa State came on zone concepts.
While Hall is one of the youngest prospects of the 2022 draft – he’ll turn 21 in May – he does have a lot of mileage on his tires for someone his age. Hall had 800 touches over 36 games in his three-year Cyclones career, an average of 22.2 touches per game.
Hall was a workhorse for Iowa State. He averaged 19.9 rush attempts per game in his career, including 21.1 last year. That was actually a dip from the 23.3 carries per game that he toted as a sophomore in 2020.
Racking up 3,941 yards on 718 career carries, Hall averaged an efficient 5.5 yards per carry. He improved his efficiency each year, rising from 4.8 yards per carry as a freshman to 5.6 as a sophomore and 5.8 as a junior.
Hall proved himself to be a tremendous home-run hitter in 2021. He gained 53.3% of his rushing yards on carries that gained at least 15 yards, ranking fifth-highest out of the 170 FBS running backs with at least 100 carries.
It’s worth noting that Hall achieved his success in spite of the fact that he did not have the benefit of playing behind a great offensive line. In 2021, Iowa State’s offense earned a run-blocking grade of 67.3, ranking eighth out of 10 teams in the Big 12 conference.
Potential in the receiving game
With his improvement as a receiver in 2021, Hall showed the potential to become a high-end receiving back in the NFL.
Hall ranked 10th among FBS running backs with 36 receptions last season. He also tied for eighth with three receiving touchdowns and ranked 16th with 302 receiving yards.
As mentioned earlier, Hall was very elusive in the passing game as he placed fifth at his position with 14 missed tackles forced after the catch. Hall averaged 0.389 missed tackles forced per reception, landing at the 80th percentile among running backs with at least 20 receptions.
Hall struggled with drops in his 2019 freshman year but developed into a reliable target over the next two seasons, putting his big hands to use. He had one drop in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. With 59 catches and two drops from 2020 to 2021, he had a drop rate of just 3.3% over his final 24 games.
Another intriguing aspect of Hall’s receiving game is his ability to make contested catches. It’s a tiny sample, but he caught 4-of-5 “contested” targets in his career, per PFF. That trait should be no surprise considering his lengthy wingspan.
Iowa State didn’t give Hall many chances to run routes down the field. The majority of his receiving damage came on short passes, as only three of his 93 career targets were thrown at least 10 yards downfield. His career aDOT (average depth of target) was -0.6, meaning his average target was actually behind the line of scrimmage.
Related Article: Analyzing Sauce Gardner: Where he’s great, where he can improve
Fundamentals (Pass-blocking and ball security)
Fundamentals are a key part of evaluating any running back prospect. While it’s the yardage and touchdowns that feature the most flair and thus garner the most attention, a running back’s ability to block well and protect the football can be just as impactful as the sexier stuff.
Hall offers a pretty good resume in the fundamental areas of the game. We already talked about his low drop rate. His numbers as a pass-blocker and in the fumble department are also solid.
Hall was credited by PFF with allowing four pressures over 70 pass-blocking snaps in 2021. That isn’t spectacular, but it’s a respectable job for the position. His allowed pressure rate of 5.7% ranked at the 60th percentile among FBS running backs with at least 50 pass-blocking snaps. The FBS average for running backs was 8.1%.
In 2020, Hall also allowed four pressures, although over a larger volume of pass-blocking snaps (81). That gave him a slightly better pressure rate of 4.9%. Cumulatively, he allowed eight pressures over 151 pass-blocking snaps from 2020 to 2021, a pressure rate of 5.3%.
The past two years were a big step forward for Hall as a pass-blocker after he gave up 10 pressures on 114 pass-blocking snaps in 2019 (8.8% rate). Hall also committed two penalties as a freshman and did not commit any over the next two seasons.
If Hall can continue that progress, he should be able to become a solid blocker in the NFL. At the moment, though, he should be expected to provide average blocking at best until he shows noticeable improvement. NFL rushers will be a step up from what Hall saw in college, so if he was only “above-average” at that level, then he has to get much better to continue being above-average as a pro.
With that being said, it’s promising that Hall is not a major work-in-progress when it comes to pass-blocking. He’s got a good floor in this area to go along with a high ceiling thanks to his size, his young age, and the progression he showed during his college career.
When it comes to fumbles, Hall isn’t perfect but he was still much more reliable than his peers. Hall finished his college career with four fumbles on 800 touches. That’s a fumble every 200.0 touches, which is nearly twice as good as the 2021 average for FBS running backs (one fumble every 104.2 touches).
Hall did not have any fumbles over 209 touches as a freshman. He had two in each of the past two seasons, averaging 151.0 touches per fumble in 2020 and 144.5 in 2021.
Breece Hall has what it takes to be a three-down star
Breece Hall has the profile of a running back prospect who would have been a surefire top 10 pick if he came out at least four years ago. His tumble into the second round is a sign of just how much the NFL has come to devalue the running back position.
The Jets’ selection of Hall in the second round was surprising considering the presence of Michael Carter and the fact that many other holes remained at more valuable positions. For the Jets to trade up and take Hall in the high-second round despite those things, it’s a clear signal that they see him as a star type of prospect. Not a “really good” prospect. A star.
Based on the information at our disposal, the Jets’ estimations are correct. Hall has a very real chance at becoming an immediate household name in the NFL.