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2021 NFL Draft Profile: Kenny Gainwell, Memphis

Gainwell could be the next great versatile running back in the NFL.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

RB Kenny Gainwell, Memphis Tigers

HEIGHT: 5’9”



HANDS: 9.8”

NCAA Football: Memphis at Tulsa Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports


STRENGTHS: If you’re looking for versatility, Kenny Gainwell’s your guy. Not only can he run the ball efficiently, but he can be a game changer in the passing game. Memphis utilized him as a receiver back in 2019, and not just in the slot or out of the backfield. The Tigers sent him out wide to run deep routes, and he displayed the skillset of a wide receiver with his adjustments and routes. That’s something any team will love to see, and it gives them another option in the passing attack that will open up the field for others. As a runner, he’s great at setting up his blocks because he reads his blockers and the movement of the defense at the same time. He can make a defender wrong quickly simply by setting up his blocks, and he’s quick to hit a hole that emerges. He’s constantly scanning the field and analyzing his next move, which allows him to make sudden moves that lead to big gains.

WEAKNESSES: His one year of experience could be seen as a weakness, as there’s not as much film to see as other prospects. For a guy his size, he certainly isn’t shy of contact, but that could be a problem with durability down the road. Gainwell needs to be more of a finesse guy, especially with how teams will utilize his skillset. That size has also raised concerns from some about his ability to handle running between the trenches.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Teams shouldn’t overthink drafting Kenny Gainwell. His one year might tell people that he’s inexperienced, but at the same time that one year was phenomenal. While he might not have the game experience of others, that also means he’s taking less hits. He deserves to be a Day 1 or Day 2 pick, and the team that gets him gets a weapon that will threaten the front seven and the secondary.