Kenneth Gainwell
Kenneth Gainwell has both the receiving and running ability to be a star at the NFL level. (Joe Rondone/The Commerical Appeal)

Kenneth Gainwell is rising up draft boards as the NFL Draft approaches. The running back out of Memphis has a unique skill set that sets him apart from other running backs in this class. He is both an electric halfback and a shifty slot receiver.

While not seeing the field much his freshman year, Gainwell stormed onto the scene in 2019. Amassing over 2,000 total scrimmage yards (1,459 rushing and 610 receiving) is an absurd feat as a sophomore. Gainwell then opted out of the 2020 season, causing him to drop off most scouts’ radar.

As a running back he is as elusive as they come. But that doesn’t mean he can’t break tackles. He has excellent contact balance to stay on his feet. And if he’s not brushing off tackles, he is juking out defenders. His elusiveness and agility allow him to avoid tackles at a high rate. In fact, he forced 56 missed tackles in just 14 games, ranking as one of the most elusive backs in the country. He even has solid breakaway speed.

As a receiver is where Gainwell excels. He can operate out of the slot or the backfield, Memphis used him everywhere. His savvy route-running makes him impossible to defend with just a linebacker. He is a menace when in the open field, something he will routinely get with only 3 drops on 60 targets in his college career.

At his pro day, Gainwell ran a 4.42, proving his elite speed. Also weighing in at over 200-pounds proves he can be more than a scatback at the NFL level. Afterward, he reportedly met with the Steelers. Pittsburgh needs a running back after having an abysmal ground-game in 2020. James Conner struggled to get it done, and a new face like Gainwell would be a better change of pace. He would also bring a stronger receiving element out of the backfield for Big Ben.

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