Player Profile: Kenneth Gainwell

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 201 lbs
School: Memphis
NFL Comparison: Austin Ekeler

Why you’re drafting him…

Gainwell is the complete package. An extremely quick, shifty, and most importantly, effective running back. As a sophomore, he handled the rock 231 times for 1,459 yards and 13 scores. Not only that, but he also caught 51 balls for an additional 610 yards and three touchdowns. I’m not quite sure what’s more impressive; the fact that he did that as a sophomore, or the fact that he did that with Antonio Gibson on the team. Which leads me to my next point; he’s already proven to be better than a budding NFL star. Unless Memphis’ coaching staff is abysmal at scouting talent, we have to think that Gainwell is going to be at least as effective in the NFL as Gibson has been (1,042 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie). Gibson is both taller and stockier than Gainwell, so it’s very impressive that Gainwell was able to take 99% of the running work between the two of them in 2019. He should be one of the first four running backs off of the board on draft day and could become an immediate impact player on any roster he lands on.

Needs to improve…

He’s good enough in pass protection to be an every-down player, but he definitely could improve upon that a little bit. I’d also like to see him weigh in closer to 200 lbs at the combine. It’s also worth noting that Gainwell had opted out of the 2020 season, so we’ve just gotta hope that he’s been crushing it to prepare for the 2021 draft. Nevertheless, Gainwell proved himself as an excellent runner and pass catcher at a very young age and is one of the more NFL-ready running backs for the game style the NFL sees today.

Prediction for 2021 NFL Draft…

I think Gainwell will be a day-two type of guy (we’ll see one running back tops go in round one anyway). I’d like to think he goes in round two after his name starts popping up again, but round three seems a bit more likely based on current NFL team needs. Cardinals, Dolphins, Falcons, Jets, and the Texans seem to be the most likely landing spots to me, where he’d likely enter in a committee. Based on the teams above, I can see him having a similar rookie usage ark to D’Andre Swift, where he’ll come in and produce on limited snaps before ultimately becoming the 1A running back by the end of the 2021 season.

Dynasty fantasy football spin…

Depending on who you ask, the 2021 running back class is a not-so-great one for fantasy purposes. However, I disagree. There’s at least five or six running backs that I’d be thrilled to come away with on draft day, and Gainwell is definitely one of them. I’ll always favor the running backs that excel in the passing game, as those are the guys that always provide some sort of fantasy value. The best thing about Gainwell is that while he’s great as a pass catcher, he’s just as good (if not better) on the ground. In 1QB leagues, I’d expect Gainwell to go in the backend of the first round, however, a weird landing spot could push him down to the early second round… and if you can get him there, you better be happy.

Check out Zach Hicks of Stampede Blue break down Kenneth Gainwell with the guys on the Loaded Box Podcast (Gainwell discussion starts at the 23:00 mark of the episode)

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