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Ryan Nall has the traits to carve out a role in the NFL

Oregon State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Oregon State’s Ryan Nall headed to the Scouting Combine while there was talk of his future position being fullback rather than the tailback spot he excelled at for the past two seasons with the Beavers. Then, Nall jumped a 10-foot broad, ran a sub 4.6-40 yard dash (4.58) and quieted the talk that may or may not have stemmed from him being a white running back. Although Nall has done well to help his draft stock during the pre-draft process, he still finds himself in an extremely deep, talented class of running backs.

Athletic Ability

Nall did extremely well to test as well as he did in Indianapolis, but based off of what he put on film at Oregon State, I can’t help but think he’s maxed out his athletic ability — which is fine. That isn’t necessarily a slight, but I believe whatever team selects him will select him knowing they aren’t going to get anything more or different out of him than what he was with the Beavers. Nall does have above average stop start ability and moves fluidly.


One of Nall’s best traits is his vision and feel as an inside runner. He will consistently make the correct read and has an excellent feel for creases between the tackles.

Nall took a fair number of snaps out of the wildcat and displayed good patience in the backfield waiting for blocks to develop.


While Nall’s 40-yard dash time surprised folks, I don’t think it accurately reflects his play speed. Nall has burst at the line of scrimmage, moves well north-south and is able to reach the second and third levels with good speed, but he doesn’t possess home run speed. Functionally for the type of runner Nall is, his burst and speed will work just fine.

Finish/Yards After Contact

As a finisher, Nall fits the type of running style Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks like. He finishes forward and consistently moves his legs upon contact. He’s an intelligent runner and should be valuable in short-yardage situations in the NFL.

Nall is a top-heavy runner and lacks great balance. He was too easily brought to ground by defenders tackling him low. One of my biggest concerns with Nall’s game is ball security. He will consistently run with the ball in his right hand, rarely changing hands or going to the ground with both hands on the ball. His fumble rate of 88.2 is below average among running backs in this year’s draft.

Passing Game

Although Nall wasn’t a prolific receiver at Oregon State, averaging 24 catches, 227 yards and two touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Beavers, he is an extremely reliable pass catcher. He adjusts to the football really well and was used in a lot of different ways at Oregon State, sent down the field vertically far more often than one would expect.

Nall aggressively executes cut blocks in pass protection, and possesses the size and willingness to pick up defenders from all three levels of the defense.

Overall, Nall is a reliable runner capable of playing all three downs and in all situations. His abilities as a blocker and in short-yardage should see him getting on the field early in his career, but it’s tough to envision him as anything more than a backup or as a part of a rotation in the NFL.