RB – Texas A&M
6’1” 215 lbs
Notable College Production:
Isaiah Spiller is a powerful back with above average agility and pass catching skills, particularly for a back his size. He runs with a punishing style and frequently goes through defenders rather than around them. He may not be the most explosive back but he does have a long stride that makes him deceptively fast in the open field. There are a few red flags in his prospect profile, most notably ball security concerns and the fact that his role in the Texas A&M offense declined each season (more on that below). Ultimately, Spiller’s size and well-rounded skill set should make him one of the top RBs selected in the NFL draft come April. This is reflected in his current Underdog ADP (as of 2/20) where he is the third rookie RB off the board and just inside the top 100 overall.
Spiller offers a compelling combination of power running and good receiving ability that could make him the centerpiece of an offense in the right situation. He brings excellent contact balance, good vision, and enough elusiveness in space to create extra yards. He has a good jump cut that allows him to quickly move from one gap to another behind the line scrimmage when he sees a hole emerging. He routinely runs through arm tackles and is rarely brought down by the first defender in the open field. There are numerous examples of Spiller carrying defenders and pushing the pile to pick up extra yards which is something that coaches and scouts will love to see.
Spiller excels both in the passing game and in short yardage situations so he projects to earn plenty of high value touches at the next level which should be great for his fantasy value. He showed good hands catching the ball out of the backfield and was successful running wheel and angle routes which is an encouraging sign for his ability as a downfield receiver. He is difficult to bring down in the open field but lacks the speed to run away from defenders, especially in the NFL.
As I mentioned in the summary, Spiller is not a perfect prospect. He put the ball on the ground eight times in college (only three ended up as turnovers) and has a habit of letting the ball get away from his body at times which makes it easier for defenders to punch out. This should be fixable, but it is worth noting should he land on a team with a coach known to bench players for fumbling. Draft analysts are also divided on whether Spiller’s patience is a positive or a negative. He is certainly willing to wait for lanes to develop which can lead to big plays, but there are also too many examples of Spiller waiting and being dropped at or behind the line of scrimmage when he could have picked up positive yardage had he been more decisive.
The most interesting question is around Spiller’s college production. Overall, he was a consistently productive player in each of his three seasons and did so against SEC defenses. However, his role in the offense decreased each season. He earned 66% of the running back touches as a freshman, 59% as a sophomore, and 50% as a junior. Additionally, his share of the rushing TDs fell to a career low 35% in his junior season despite the offense transitioning to a pocket passer at QB which should have meant a greater proportion of the goal line opportunities available to Spiller.
There are two factors that help explain Spiller’s declining role, which are an overall increase in RB touches for the team and the emergence of Devon Achane (2023 draft eligible). The Texas A&M offense gave more touches to the running back position each season which meant Spiller’s overall volume could stay relatively unchanged even if he was earning a lower percentage of the work. In 2021, nearly all of those extra running back touches went to Devon Achane who had a breakout season and fully deserved his increased role. Still, Achane is a 5’9”, 185 pound running back and is also a year behind Spiller, so the fact that he was able to force anything close to an equal time share could be seen as a significant red flag for Spiller.
We will have to wait and see if any of these issues will have a meaningful impact on Spiller’s draft stock. He also has the most to prove at the combine among the top three backs so don’t be surprised to see his ADP move significantly in either direction following that performance. All things considered, Spiller deserves to be one of the top rookie running backs selected in both the NFL draft and fantasy drafts but he has the most risk factors among that top tier which could cause him to fall in the draft and/or not live up to his draft position.