2011 NFL Draft Player Profile | Kendall Hunter
It’s never easy fully evaluating smaller running backs. In fact, it’s sometimes downright impossible. But with the man they call “Spud”, it’s a bit easier. Hunter was a middle grade running back coming out of John Tyler High in 2007. He was ranked the 40th running back in the nation, and his biggest doubters were the ones saying that he was too small.
Hunter came in immediately and made an impact for Oklahoma State, however. In 2007 he rushed for nearly 700 yards on just 107 carries. He followed it up starting every game in 2008 with a 1,555 yard performance as a true sophomore. But 2009 was a bit different after Hunter missed six weeks with an ankle sprain, and never fully recovered from it the rest of the season. Hunter’s 2010 resurgence quieted down the haters, however, and he’s not being looked at as a Top 5 running back in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Player Name: Kendall Hunter
Position: Running Back
School: Oklahoma State
Height: 5’7 2/8
Hunter is a very quick back, and he plays much bigger than his size. For being a 200 pound running back, he carries his weight quite well, and doesn’t let his solid build slow him down. Hunter has exceptional vision and patience in the backfield always letting his blockers set up. He’s a surprisingly good runner between the tackles, hitting the hole with command, and the Oklahoma State offense really complimented him. Some will say that the wide splits with the offensive lineman opened up more holes for Hunter, but you can only play with what you have. Hunter is a quick back who catches well out of the backfield, and is one of the best pass protectors in the 2011 NFL Draft from a running back standpoint. He has the speed to turn the corner and is dangerous in space with his quick feet and agility.
Some consider Hunter to be merely a scat back. I say otherwise. While Hunter isn’t going to be a workhorse (25-30 carries) guy, he’s going to be handle 15 touches a game, and make plays. His durability is going to be a concern as ankle sprains tend to come back and nag players, and it seemed that Hunter had lost a step in 2010, despite his excellent numbers. Playing in a wide open spread offense at Oklahoma State could be a concern as that offense is designed to give the players an opportunity in space. Hunter hasn’t had to work as much in short yardage situations, or pound the ball in those situations. His straight line speed has been a question mark, but we will find out more at the NFL Combine.
In a draft that features a log jam deciding the true running back rankings, it’s going to be tough to get a precise draft range. He’s an early second round talent, but teams are finding quality runners in the mid rounds, which is hurting the draft stock of all running backs. Still, I see Hunter coming off the board no earlier than pick 35, and no later than pick 60. Teams like Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Indianapolis, and Green Bay seem like the most logical choices, although a few of those teams already have a solid #1 runner. He’ll be best in a two back system, so it’s still possible that he’s drafted in that range, with Indianapolis and Green Bay making the most sense.
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