Draft Talk: Analysts share thoughts on Breece Hall


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

Breece Hall scores a touchdown against No. 10 Iowa on Sept. 11, 2021.

Matt Belinson

Editor’s note: The 2022 NFL Draft is on its way (April 28), and it’s shaping up to be an unprecedented stage for Cyclone football.

The Iowa State Daily spoke with five NFL Draft analysts to get their opinions on Cyclones’ biggest draft prospects and examine their respective strengths, weaknesses and pro potential.

The analysts include: Dane Brugler (The Athletic), Chris Trapasso (CBSSports), Anthony Treash (Pro Football Focus), Lance Zierlein (NFL.com) and Keith Sanchez (The Draft Network).

Is Breece the best running back in the draft?

For many, it’s a race between Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III and Hall for the honor of first running back taken.

Hall is a two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, ran for 1,400+ yards and 20+ touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. Hall ran an official 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.

Walker rushed for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns in his lone season in East Lansing and won the Doak Walker Award. Walker also ran a faster 40 than Hall (4.38).

But is Hall considered RB1 in the eyes of these evaluators?

“I think Breece Hall will be the first running back off the board. I don’t see a way he isn’t the first back off the board.” –Chris Trapasso, NFL Draft/Young Player analyst CBSSports

“If there was a running back to make a case for the first round, it’s Breece.” Keith Sanchez, Senior NFL Draft Analyst for Draft Network

“I would have him as running back three. I have Dameon Pierce from Florida and James Cook from Georgia ahead of him.” -Anthony Treash, Lead college analyst Pro Football Focus

“He’s my top running back because he’s a three-down runner who can be counted on from anywhere on the field.” -Lance Zierlein, NFL Draft analyst for NFL.com

“He’s an easy sell in the draft room if you want a running back.” -Dane Brugler, NFL Draft analyst for The Athletic

Brugler has Walker ahead of Hall in his overall draft scouting report.

Iowa State’s last first round pick was George Amundson in 1973.

Strengths of his game?

Hall was a bell-cow back at Iowa State, pacing the nation in multiple rushing categories and finishing top-10 in Heisman Trophy voting in his final two seasons as a Cyclone.

His accolades and surface-level stats speak for themselves.

But what do analysts see as his biggest on-field strengths — skills that set him apart from other running backs?

All five analysts praised his balance, vision and patience, with many admitting his Combine measurables surprised them from his 40 time and vertical jump.

“He’s patient but has top-end speed to hit big plays, and I love his pass-catching talent out of the backfield,” Zierlein said.

Hall’s speed (4.39 40 time) stood out for evaluators, but some said this came as a bit of a revelation when watching his film.

Brugler said Hall can make defenders miss and runs with an edge to him, but even in his biggest plays as a Cyclone, he never saw the 4.39 speed show out.

“Breece tested off the charts,” Brugler said. “I don’t know if we always saw that on the field.”

“But since the day he showed up in Ames, he was productive.”

What are his weaknesses?

Hall is considered a top option at running back in this class, but every player has question marks in their game.

When it comes to Hall, it starts in the passing game in the eyes of most.

Sanchez and Treash said Hall’s ability as a pass-catcher is still to be determined, as Iowa State didn’t get around to utilizing him as a receiver until the latter half of the 2021 season.

Hall caught 23 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the 2020 season and entered his junior season averaging two targets a game with one career target eight yards downfield.

In his final season in Ames, Hall finished with 36 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns. But even with the increase in targets and receptions, Sanchez and Treash said NFL teams would want more from a potential every-down back.

“You can tell this year was his big introduction as a receiver,” Sanchez said. “You saw good things and then sometimes you go, ‘these look like his first reps.'”

As for Trapasso, he said while the natural speed is there for Hall, he doesn’t think an NFL team should view him as a threat to score anytime he touches the ball.

Like Brugler, he doesn’t see the 4.39 speed show up on film.

“I wouldn’t be drafting him thinking he could score every time he touches the ball,” Trapasso said.

Another area of potential concern for Treash is the shelf life of the running back position in college.

Pro Football Focus examined the natural decline of NFL running backs and determined around 1,500 career carries is when decline typically sets in.

Hall racked up 718 carries as a Cyclone.

“Dallas [Cowboys] is experiencing first-hand the down sides of paying a running back massive money,” Treash said. “The position isn’t as valuable, and wear and tear can set in on these guys quick.”

Best fit? When will he be drafted?

One of the appeals of the NFL Draft is the mystery of it all. Where do teams value certain players? Could a trade take place?

Hall will be drafted; that’s not a mystery. But where do analysts see him getting picked and what could be the best fit for his services?

The best fit is up for debate in their minds.

“Honestly, I don’t think there is a scheme or team that he can’t fit effectively which is why he carries the most value of any running back in this draft.” -Zierlein

“I would probably think an inside zone team like the Bills or Chiefs. Really, any team that runs out of shotgun, goes inside zone and the offense creates running lanes naturally.” -Sanchez

“He was much better on zone concepts. I think that’s where you want him to be, in an offense where that’s the system. That’s kind of becoming the scheme of the league too.” -Treash

Now, the money question: Where do they see Hall being selected?

Overall, the potential spots in the first round in some mock drafts are at No. 25 with the Buffalo Bills, or No. 29 or 30 with the Kansas City Chiefs.

If Hall falls to the second round, analysts have a growing list of multiple teams including the New York Jets at No. 35 or 38, the Houston Texans at No. 37, the Atlanta Falcons at No. 43 or 58 or the Bills at No. 57 overall.

Here’s what the five analysts landed on:

Brugler: “He could go first round, early second. The Bills make a lot of sense.”

Trapasso: “Bills, Jets, or Dolphins.”

Treash: “Buffalo is a good fit.”

Zierlein: “I see him being selected inside the top-35 picks.”

Sanchez: “I would probably go with an inside zone team like the Bills or Chiefs. I could definitely see him going top of the second round. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money there.”