Isaiah Spiller Draft Profile
Isaiah Spiller is a perfect fit in the Shanahan-style outside zone system. Standing at 6’1 215 lbs., Spiller started all three years at Texas A&M and ran for over 900 yards in every season. Spiller is one of the most highly-touted running back in this year’s draft, and I believe he is worth the hype. The combination of lateral speed, vision, and consistency reminds me a lot of Elijah Mitchell. While Spiller is two inches and 15 pounds heavier than him, he has the intangibles to be a part of an outside zone scheme. Coaches that run a similar offense to the 49ers include the Jets, Packers, Rams, and Bengals. While none of those teams necessarily need a running back, they all have coordinators who may potentially end up as head coaches. Nathaniel Hackett, Mike McDaniel, Kevin O’Connell, or Brian Callahan getting hired for head coaching gigs could dictate where Spiller gets drafted. While I have an early second-round grade on Spiller, I believe he could fall to the middle or end of the second round due to the depleting need for early-round running backs.
The two traits that stand out immediately when watching Spiller play are his vision and lateral speed. Whether it be getting to the edge or quick twitches, Spiller fits perfectly with an outside zone system. He has a unique running style; the only way I could describe it properly is as a “jumpy” runner. While Spiller is extremely fast side-to-side, he knows when to turn it on and when to hit the hole. There was one run against Arkansas where you see him side-to-side with a defensive back and then ends up beating him to the end zone by five yards. In the modern-day NFL, you have to be able to catch the football out of the backfield and be on the field on every down. Spiller had over 20 catches in every season at Texas A&M and averaged over 5 yards per carry. His lateral speed and ability to change directions come into play when finding cutback lanes. If we look at the 49ers this year, think about how many times we have seen Mitchell or Deebo Samuel get big runs off of cutback lanes. Spiller will be dangerous in an outside zone scheme and if he lands in the right spot he could be the next great Shanahan-style running back.
There weren’t many weaknesses to Spiller’s game, but at the same time, he isn’t one of those guys that fits every offense. Last year, Najee Harris who was my number one running back was special in an aspect where I felt like a team would build their offense around him. I don’t believe Spiller is on that level, but he is still a really good running back. He isn’t going to fit with a downhill running attack like the Titans or the Patriots, but he can be near the top of the league if he lands in the right system. As I mentioned earlier, Spiller is a “jumpy” runner, but sometimes that giddiness results in him tripping over his own feet. On obvious passing scenarios, Spiller deserves to be in the backfield, but I could see him getting taken on out third and shorts. As a blocker, I love Spiller’s effort, but the strength isn’t there. With that being said, strength and technique will come, you can’t coach effort. I believe Spiller has legitimate top ten potentials, he just has to land in the right system.
Contact Balance 8/10
Lateral Speed and Change of Direction 7.75/8
Receiving Threat 5/6
Long Speed 3.5/5
Pass Protection 3.25/5
Final Rating: 86
Pro Comparison: Elijah Mitchell
Scheme Fit: Outside Zone Shanahan System
Draft Grade: Early Second Round
Draft Projection: Mid Second Round