Kenny Gainwell hasn’t played all that much running back in his career, as he was a quarterback in high school and only started one full season in college before opting out in 2020 due to COVID-19. But, the fact that he’s poised to go as a Top 10 back in the NFL Draft tell you a little something about his skill set already.
In his one full season as a red-shirt freshman, Gainwell rushed 231 times for 1,459 yards (6.3 ypc) and 13 touchdowns. But that’s not all! He also caught 51 passes for 610 yards and three more touchdowns.
Gainwell has a great burst, coupled with balance and agility. He ran a 4.42 40 and that shows up on the field, as he’s able to get to top speed in a hurry. He can make defenders miss and outrun them, but he’s not afraid to take on contact at 5’11”, 201 lbs. His ability to stay on his feet after contact and make extra yards will entice NFL coaches.
The best part of his game as far as his NFL and fantasy outlook is in his receiving ability. His size likely won’t allow him to be a lead back, but he could easily be an Austin Ekeler type of player in the league.
Mock Draft landing spots
Gainwell’s size will keep him out of the first round and push him to the third round, but I expect a team is going to fall in love with him late in the second. With most mock drafts being of the first round variety, Gainwell hasn’t been mocked to many teams. His skill set makes him a useful player on any team. He’s been mocked to a variety of teams in the late first all the way to the fourth round. The Buccaneers make a lot of sense and he has been mocked to them, but overall it’s going to be tough to make a call on his destination.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
We can’t expect too much from Gainwell in fantasy this season, but if a team “reaches” for him in the draft, they will likely want to get him on the field. If he falls to the third or even fourth round, he’ll have more trouble winning touches.
Fantasy impact: Career
I like Gainwell’s upside as an efficient fantasy producer for his career even if he can’t find more than 10 touches a game. He should be put in situations for receptions and big plays, which mean not a ton of wear on the body and good per touch fantasy numbers.