2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Khalil Herbert

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Khalil Herbert

by April 28, 2021 0 comments

The 2021 NFL Draft class lacks the star power the previous class had. The three guys at the top of everyone’s list are Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Javonte Williams in some order. However, after that, the list starts to vary. One name not getting enough attention is Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert. After four seasons at Kansas, Herbert transferred to Virginia Tech and had a breakout season. In 2020, he totaled almost 1,200 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. As he heads to the NFL with only 509 touches on his resume, Herbert has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Khalil Herbert

Jersey: #21

Position: Running Back

School: Virginia Tech

Class: Redshirt Senior

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 210 lbs

Speed (12.67/15)

While Herbert lacks breakaway speed and can be chased down from behind by faster defensive backs, he has plenty of speed to blow by linebackers and slower safeties. Furthermore, he builds up speed as he runs downfield. Herbert’s excellent vision gives him an advantage in the open field. He can quickly read what’s in front of him and react accordingly, running away from defenders taking poor tackling angles.

Patience/Vision (14.58/15)

This area is where Herbert excels the most. He is a patient runner with excellent vision. He will wait for his blockers to create a hole and hit it as soon as it starts to open. Herbert does an excellent job not only seeing holes opening but cutback lanes before they are fully developed. His quick feet allow him to sit and read the offensive line before finding a hole and quickly hitting it. However, sometimes Herbert will try to do too much and dance in the backfield instead of taking the first running lane available, resulting in a tackle for loss.

Breaking Tackles (12.25/15)

He isn’t a shifty running back who will make you miss in space like Michael Carter. However, he does a good job stopping and starting, especially when setting defenders up in traffic. This move leaves defenders frozen as if they are stuck in the mud. Herbert is more of a physical than finesse runner. He would prefer to lower his shoulder or stiff-arm a defender into the ground than try to juke or spin out of a tackle. Most of the time, if Herbert can’t create a poor tackling angle for a defender, he will try to overpower them with either his contact balance or stiff arm.

Acceleration/Burst (8/10)

Given his ability to stop and start, it’s not a surprise Herbert does a good job accelerating. However, he doesn’t have great burst to the edge. Instead, Herbert succeeds when one-cutting and running North-South than East-West. When he sees a running lane open, Herbert has the burst to hit the hole hard and be to the second level before the linebackers realize it.

Change of Direction/Quickness (8.17/10)

With the lack of fluid hips, it’s a surprise Herbert didn’t score lower here. He is more of a straight-line runner than someone who will dance around and make you miss in space. While Herbert is a straight-line runner, he did show some jump cut and quick change of direction ability when returning kicks at Virginia Tech.

Contact Balance (8.58/10)

When defenders go to tackle Herbert, they better go low and wrap him up. If they don’t, they will find themselves on the ground instead of him. While he isn’t the best in the draft class in this area, Herbert will take hits and remain upright. His lower center of gravity and low running style is critical to his success in this trait. Even when taking hits, Herbert keeps his eyes up and stays focus on reading the field.

Receiving Ability (7.25/10)

During his 46 career games in college, Herbert had only 34 catches. Furthermore, he had a career-high 10 catches in his only season at Virginia Tech. However, while Herbert has limited pass-catching experience, he showed good hands and an ability to catch away from his body in traffic. While most of his catches came in the screen game, Herbert has the room to develop this part of his game and potentially develop into a three-down running back.

Strength (4/5)

Once again, when defenders come to tackle Herbert, they better go low and wrap up. His lower body strength is very good. Herbert will keep his legs turning and power his way through weak tackle attempts and lighter defensive backs. Furthermore, when he lowers his shoulder to layout a hit or uses his stiff arm to put a defender on the ground, Herbert draws that strength from his lower body.

Short Yardage Situations (3.92/5)

Between his strength, contact balance, and vision, it’s no surprise Herbert scored well in this area. His ability to run low to the ground and see holes quickly gives him an advantage over many other running backs in this draft class. While Herbert isn’t a traditional punch you in the mouth hammer runner, he has the strength to keep his legs move and pick up the needed yards. He could step into this role as a rookie and have plenty of success.

Pass Protection (3.75/5)

Although he wasn’t asked to pass protect very often, Herbert gave the effort needed every single time. He wouldn’t throw himself at the defender’s legs and hope for the best. Instead, Herbert would try to square up and take a blitzer into his chest and try to anchor. Furthermore, Herbert showed good blitz pick-up awareness and didn’t let his quarterback get blown up by a delayed or cornerback blitz. There is room to grow in this area, but the upside is there.

Player Summary

Herbert is a running back everyone is sleeping on. Last season he played some of the best football of his life. His vision is some of the best in the draft class. While he lacks elite speed, burst, and quickness, Herbert makes up for it with his vision and contact balance. He is a grinder running back who will hit you in the mouth when needed. However, Herbert will also avoid contact thanks to his vision. Whenever he had incoming contact with a defender, Herbert always would secure the ball with two hands. More than likely, Herbert will be selected sometime on day three. However, if he lands in a one-cut system with a good offensive line, Herbert might be the steal of the draft at running back.

Final Grade (83.17/100): Late Second Round

Player Comp: Devonta Freeman


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Mike Fanelli is the Editor in Chief and fantasy football expert for Prime Time Sports Talk since 2018. He is a featured writer for FantasyPros. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_NFL2 and reach out anytime with any fantasy football questions.

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