Now that we have official combine testing results for the majority of the 2019 NFL Draft class, it’s time for a quick review of former Kentucky Wildcats’ running back Benny Snell Jr.1
THE EARLY YEARS
A three-star recruit from Columbus, Ohio, Snell rushed for 3,903 yards and 55 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons at Westerville Central. He received only a handful of offers, eventually choosing Kentucky over Iowa, Boston College, and West Virginia. As a true freshman in 2016, Snell Jr. captured the lead back role in the Wildcats offense, finishing with a solid 186-1091-13 rushing line.
2017 AND BEYOND
Snell assumed an even bigger role in 2017. He accounted for 67 percent of his team’s rushing yards and TDs, and finished with a gaudy 262-1333-19 rushing line. His 0.67 Rushing Dominator was the fifth-best mark in the country. As a junior in 2018, Snell’s market share of rushing production dipped slightly (0.55) but still ranks 11th nationally. We’ll see why his lack of receiving production is important momentarily. But from a pure rushing standpoint, Snell is one of the most prolific and consistent RBs in the 2019 draft class:
- The only RB in the country to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 13 TDs in each of the last three seasons
- 18 games with at least 100 yards rushing and a TD since 2016, second-most in the country
- Second-most rushing TDs (46) and fourth-most yards rushing (3,754) in the country since 2016
AGE AND PRODUCTION
Early-age production is a strong indicator of future success for RB prospects. Achieving a Workhorse Score of 0.25 or better in your first college season is an important threshold. As you probably guessed, Snell’s first-year Workhorse Score (0.43) easily crosses this barrier. He’s also a relatively young prospect at 21.1 years old. Blair Andrews showed that almost 40 percent of the seasons produced by RBs who were 21-year-old rookies have been RB2 seasons:
Rushing production is important for RBs, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. By incorporating the concept of adjusted yards per game into his analysis of RB breakout ages, Anthony Amico showed the importance of ancillary production in prospect analysis. As a result of his lack of receiving and return yards, Snell lacks a true breakout season, which has historically limited fantasy success.
|Breakout Age||Total||Hits||Percent Hit||Avg Best PPR|
With the help of the RotoViz Combine Explorer we can see why many in the dynasty community were concerned about how Snell would test athletically.
Finishing below the 50th percentile in speed score, agility, and explosion, Snell’s showing confirmed that he’s a slightly below-average athlete who was nonetheless able to produce at a high level, against top competition, at a young age. Some may point to his poor combine results as a reason to bail on Snell. And yes, a strong combine could have vaulted him into the upper echelon of a rather pedestrian RB class. But to me, his combine confirmed what most already suspected, and thus, won’t alter my projection too greatly.
Snell is one of the youngest RBs in the 2019 class which we know is an important aspect in prospect evaluation. He was also extremely productive as a runner at an early age, another positive indicator. The red flags include a lack of passing game usage and mediocre athleticism which could ultimately limit him to more of a two-down role at the next level. But looking at Dynasty League Football’s rookie average draft position (ADP) from March, it appears those concerns are being reflected in his dynasty value. Snell is currently the 26th overall pick, down nine spots from February. If you still value his age and production, and his ADP continues to fall, Snell will be a very shrewd third-round rookie pick this summer.
- The original, pre-combine version of this article was published on January 1, 2019. (back)