It all started with a simple tweet and now I can’t stop watching Darrin Hall tape trying to figure out what everyone missed.
Darrin Hall (5’11, 217) Sr RB PITT welcome to my radar.
— Walk (@DFF_Walk) April 1, 2019
Size: 5’11”, 217 pounds CHECK
Production: Averaged 7.2 YPT and scored 10 touchdowns across 168 touches in 2018 CHECK
Profile: 94th percentile SPARQ-x per PlayerProfiler.com CHECK
Hall and Qadree Ollison were forced into action during their freshman seasons after James Conner suffered a knee injury and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer during the 2015 season. In 2016, Conner returned to the Panthers backfield and dominated touches once again (Conner 237: Hall + Ollison 73). Conner declared for the NFL Draft following the 2016 season, and Hall became the Panthers primary ball carrier. He turned 144 touches into 785 yards and 10 touchdowns for a bad Panthers team (5-7). NOTE: Nathan Peterman also declared for the 2016 NFL Draft which left them with a void under center.
Hall’s senior season was more of the same as he compiled 1210 scrimmage yards on 168 touches and another 10 touchdowns (full disclosure: Ollison was the primary running back in 2018 with 205 touches).
As a regular part of the Panthers’ offense across his junior and senior campaigns, Hall received 312 total touches and turned them into 1,995 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns, yet Ollison is the one who received the combine invite. I can only assume this is due to his massive frame (6’2”, 225) and true freshman year production, but Ollison seemed to regress as a runner until a resurgent 2018 season.
But enough about Ollison, I’m here to talk about Darrin Hall. On tape, I see a patient runner with light feet who possesses the vision and short area quickness to run to daylight or cut back and exploit over pursuit. Hall possesses home run hitting speed which was on display with multiple 70+ yard touchdowns on his register. He’s not a thumper, but Hall has the power to run through initial contact. I would’ve liked to see more of him as a pass catcher (38 career receptions in 45 games), but that’s clearly not a function of the Panthers’ system. James Conner had 30 career receptions in 39 games and still proved to be a competent pass catcher for the Steelers last season (he’s no Jaylen Samuels, though). Hall also ran the wildcat at times which tells me the coaching staff trusts him in game situations where he must process information quickly and make the correct read.
The Pittsburgh program has produced numerous viable fantasy producers at the running back position in the past decade: Lesean McCoy (2008), Dion Lewis (2010), and James Conner (2016). While I’m not proclaiming Hall as the next in line by any means, he’s currently going undrafted in rookie mocks and that’s a mistake. Reserve a fifth-round pick for this upside back and hope that he lands in an unsettled backfield because if the opportunity presents itself Hall can capitalize.