If confidence accounts for anything, which it does, New York Jets-bound Breece Hall goes to the head of the class.
“What I'm able to do with the ball in my hands is unmatched to every other running back in this class,” Iowa State’s two-time consensus first-team All-American said last week on Big 12 Sirius XM radio last week. “As much of an impact as I can make on the field, I'm going make off the field. You're going get the best of both worlds on the field and in the community. You’re going get a great person and player.”
He even re-stated something similar during a late Friday interview on the NFL Network.
“It's a dream come true," Hall said. “They tried to trade into the first round to get me. It didn’t come through. It was kind of a bummer, but I’m still blessed to be a Jet.
“I was the best running back in this draft, a three-down back who can do it all. I’m not only a great person on the field, but a great person off the field.”
No one out-worked Hall since he stepped into the Iowa State running backs film room as a 17-year-old freshman in 2019. No one.
Out of the spotlight is where Hall honed ability that included rushing for 3,044 yards on a whopping 532 carries the past two seasons.
“Day and night, he was either in the film room, or doing something in the football facility,” ISU coach Matt Campbell said, “and that’s from almost the first day he arrived on campus.”
Let's take a look at what the Jets are getting with their second-round selection.
The 5-foot-11, 217-pounder might not be the quickest through the hole, but once he gets going — it’s a footrace he usually wins. His NFL Combine 4.39 timing in the 40 was solid, maybe even surprising to some. He received a higher draft grade from NFL.com's Lance Zierlin than any other back.
That’s probably no surprise to Cyclones fans, who have cheered every handoff since Hall became a regular in 2019.
He scored on runs long and short, including five of 75 yards or more. Even at 217 pounds, he has true gamebreaker speed and burst. He has wonderful balance and vision. With his low center of gravity, Hall was a productive third-down and red-zone back. He was a willing and above-adequate blocker.
Overworked after lugging the ball over 500 times the past two seasons? The verdict is still out. Some analysts worry about how much tread was used on the tires, so to speak. Others say the fact he only played three seasons in college, makes up for any leg weariness he might have.
Post-handoff improvisation that he mostly got away with in college isn’t likely translate to the NFL. Lateral movement and the ability to beat a defender around the corner is questionable.
Peterson's final thoughts
If it’s an old-school running back with a new-wave edge you were seeking in the NFL Draft — you got him. Iowa State’s Breece Hall is as throwback as they come. Standout rusher with top-end speed Check. Soft enough hands to catch passes out of the backfield? Check. Low-to-the-ground and balanced blocker? Checkmate.
“We were able to get what we thought was a top 20 playmaker in the draft, and an exciting weapon and someone who could really fit in our backfield and our scheme with what we have going," Douglas said.
"The thing that jumps out with him is that he's a home run threat. He can score from anywhere on the field. Excellent elusiveness, excellent balance through contact, and another guy who can be a weapon in the pass game.
“He has really natural ball skills and he's a tough tackle in open space. He's one of the more elusive backs we feel like we have one of the more elusive backfields with him, Mike (Carter), Tevin (Coleman) and Ty (Johnson)."
In New York, Hall will become an immediate threat with star potential.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson embarked on his 50th year of writing sports for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: What the New York Jets can expect from NFL Draft pick Breece Hall