In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We’ll also take it a step further and provide an in-depth review showing off examples of what we like, and what we don’t. Included is a date from the initial scouting report, this is so new notes can be added as the year goes on. Those new notes will be dated as well. With that, welcome to the Breece Hall Scouting Report!
Today, we’re looking at Breece Hall, one of the projected top running backs of the ’22 draft class thanks to back-to-back monstrous seasons at Iowa State. Let’s see how he accomplished that monstrosity.
Date: Original 5.23.2021, Updated 2.4.22
Details: Breece Hall | RB | Iowa State #28
DOB: 05.31.2001 | 20 years old
H/W: 6’1” | 215 lbs
NFL Draft Projection:
2nd round pick – Often looked at as the top running back of the class, Hall is a good, powerful runner, but seems to be just average in the passing game. Today’s NFL deprioritizes the position except for the best of the best. Those who excel at everything stand a chance to go in the 1st round, everyone else – even the best of the rest – get picked day 2 or later. With Hall’s shortcomings, he’s likely to go early day 2.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:
Top 4 pick – There are obviously a lot of variables to go into this: landing spot, competition, etc. However, we know RBs tend to take over at the top of rookie draft boards simply due to value of the position. I expect Hall will be the 2nd or 3rd RB drafted in the NFL draft, which will likely push him up rookie draft boards as well.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:
Top 7 pick – QBs are king in 2QB/SF leagues, and I can see 3 QBs going above the high value skill position players. With that, I can see Hall falling no lower than 1.07 in most SF/2QB formats.
10.21.2021 edit: Projections were updated to include Dynasty Rookie Draft projections, in addition to NFL Draft projection.
02.04.2022 edit: Projections and scouting brief updated based on the ’21 season.
Early indicators suggest that Hall could be the top RB in the ’22 NFL Draft, and there’s certainly merit to the thought. He runs zone and gap concepts. He shows great patience, presses the hole well, and has good burst.
He’s no-nonsense; doesn’t rely on jukes, spins, or outstanding athleticism. Rather he beats the defense with decisiveness, leverage, and angles.
Hall regularly sets up defenders to overcommit before pumping the brakes and cutting inside them. He has enough strength and contact balance to get through arm-tackles without losing speed.
He’s not the fastest on the field, but he should have good-enough measurables. Just don’t expect him to outrun everyone, it’s not uncommon to see him get caught from behind or the side, his top-gear just doesn’t have the same horsepower some like to see.
Personally, I don’t see Hall as the top RB in the class. His vision is hit-or-miss, and there were a number of times he abandoned the play design too early, looking for the home run. Occasionally this will work – in college – but on Sundays it’s often a recipe for disaster.
Through the air, Hall shows skills as a hands-catcher, though it almost seems like he’s uncomfortable in the open field. While he may be manageable in the passing game, he hasn’t shown to be a good blocker, so don’t expect to consistently see him on all three downs.
I can see him being relegated to a 2-down volume-dependent role, or potentially being the “thunder” of a 2-back backfield. Even in that situation, I can see him getting enough touches in the passing game to make a slight impact.
Let’s get to the good stuff. When I watch running backs, I typically look for a handful of things every time. The first is an understanding of the play design. Aligning someone in the backfield with Olympic-level speed and strength doesn’t make them a running back.
A running back needs to know every offensive lineman’s responsibilities on every run. More than that, a heady running back will also understand the responsibilities of every defender. This helps the back to know, pre-snap, what to expect.
On this first play, we see a counter play develop in the game vs Oklahoma State. You may have already seen this snippet on our Twitter (if not, click HERE to watch, and give us a follow while you’re there). I’ll give you the full play GIF (click to play), but first I want to break it down frame-by-frame.
Now, watch it in full speed and appreciate that – without that little stutter to hold the safety – that safety could have been playing lovebird with Hall instead of with his buddy Mike. Hall knew that the safety was watching for the cutback and played him like a fiddle.
This play shows an understanding of offensive and defensive responsibilities, and using it to his advantage. It also shows vision of the second level, anticipation, good burst, and enough speed to break off big runs.
Next up on the list, we’re looking at how Hall reads split zone. The play-side closes immediately. Breece sees it, so next looks backside. You see him pause with an extra jump cut before going outside.
On split zone, if the front-side is closed the next read is typically inside the block of the TE/H-Back who comes across the formation. Hall sees that’s closed too.
This time, it’s closed because of an over-aggressive backside contain. Hall takes advantage by using that little jump to redirect his hips and feet aiming outside the defense and picks up a good gain thanks to the overzealous defender.
Our first play was a counter, a gap/pull run. Then we saw a split zone, a zone run. Hall runs both zone and gap/pull often. In the three games I watched, I tracked 51 zone runs for 262 yards (5.14ypc), as well as 29 gap or pull runs for 165 yards (5.69ypc).
From what I saw, Hall was a much better zone runner. If we remove the big counter run we looked at earlier, that turns to 28 attempts for 96 yards (3.43ypc). Obviously, a much more pedestrian number.
Why the disparity in zone vs gap/pull runs? I believe it’s due to Hall’s biggest flaw. Decision making behind the line.
Zone runs leave much of the decision making to the runner based on what he sees in front of him (check out our Outside Zone article for more). On the other hand, gap and pull runs are specifically designed to attack one gap in the defensive front. If the front changes, and the gap is covered, the blockers adapt to continue attacking the specified gap.
Hall regularly abandons the play design, most noticeably on gap/pull runs. It seems to me this typically happens as he wants to get outside the Tackle. While zone runs are designed with this option in mind, it’s a killer for gap/pull runs.
Take a look at the still photo below, then watch the GIF below that. In the photo, look at Halls left foot and his weight distribution. We can see that he’s already committed to taking this outside. He’s abandoning the design of the play – one in which he has good (but messy) blocks in front of him – choosing to bounce it outside instead.
Next look at the safety on the bottom of the picture. His helmet isn’t just flashing to the outside of the blocker – indicating a leverage advantage – he’s shed the block entirely and has his target set on Hall.
This was a terrible decision by Hall, who too-often looks to bounce it outside instead of running the design of the play. This is a death-wish in the NFL.
You can see Hall’s desire to get outside the tackles in zone runs too. In our next clip from the 2020 Fiesta Bowl vs. Oregon, we see an inside zone with a double-team at the point of attack. Hall’s first read is supposed to be the play-side hip of the center.
We can see at the handoff that the guard has helped enough for the center to overtake. Further, the play-side guard is already looking to smash the attacking linebacker. With the play-side tackle riding his defender to the edge there’s a HUGE hole if Hall just bounces play-side, which is where his eyes should be anyway.
Instead, Hall never sees it. His eyes never looked off the backside, and his first step after the handoff is directing his hips and feet once again to the backside. He may be able to step outside the edge defender, but it’s right into the waiting arms of both a safety and a corner. This decision is inexcusable.
His desire to bend backside, seemingly looking to get outside the tackles, rears its head again later in the same game. This time we get lots of 1-on-1s due to the defensive alignment.
Right away we see the center stand-up the nose, eventually edging him out of his gap. We see the play-side guard get vertical and square up the LB. Again, the play-side tackle rides his defender around the edge, almost out of the play, leaving another gaping hole on the play-side.
Yet once again, Hall never looks play-side. Once again, inexcusable.
When running out of the backfield, that’s really the only flaw I see. Other than his propensity to abandon the play and look to get outside, Hall has lots of other great traits you want to see from a runner. When he does follow his blocks, he shows excellent patience to let his blocks develop.
In this next play we see another counter. This time Hall does a phenomenal job slowing down at the handoff, staying low and keeping his feet active underneath him, allowing the guard and H-back to get in place. The moment the H-back starts to engage, Hall bursts forward off the left hip, squeezes through a slim gap between his blockers and the safety, and gets solid yards on 2nd and 6.
On the next run we don’t just see Hall’s patience as he waits for the big guy to rumble on through to the LB. We also get to see a sweet, sweet stiff arm from Hall to the edge player who broke through the right tackle’s weak attempt at a block.
Do better right tackle.
Hall’s patience is consistently fun to watch. On this one, we again see him keep low and maintain active feet with a wide base as he pauses behind the line, waiting for his center to collect himself and decide who to attack.
Once his center picks a target, Hall bursts through the line, lowers his shoulders, and drives forward for a great gain on 1st down.
Despite occasionally making poor decisions with the ball in his hands, Hall’s vision is really hit-or-miss. When it’s on, it’s great. For example, in the very first play we saw his ability to shift his eyes to the second level, read what the backers are doing, and adjust his run accordingly.
Here we see it again. Right when Hall takes the handoff, he sees the linebacker screaming into the backside A gap and correctly bends this run to the cutback lane outside the tackle. He weaves through light traffic and gets into the second level, where the corner makes a nice ankle tackle, mitigating the damage done.
I say his vision is hit-or-miss because he doesn’t always see the hole immediately. Maybe it’s less about vision, and instead a lack of anticipation.
In our next clip, Hall’s original target gets clogged up quick. He does see the cutback and winds up scraping the back of his linemen, where he grinds out a crucial first down to seal the game.
Note, however, that Hall didn’t see the cutback immediately. If you look close, you’ll actually see two shuffle-steps; the first when he approaches the pile waiting for a hole to open up, the second comes after he sees the backside lane. He does show excellent burst to get the first down once he sees it.
Hall doesn’t have a large arsenal of moves, like a juke or spin. He prefers to use leverage and angles to get defenders to overcommit, then to put his head down and drive forward for a couple additional yards.
Here, we get to see Hall effectively utilize a very good, tight spin move. As the defensive line shoot to their right, the linebackers shift to their left – directly into the gap this run is attacking. The backer and the safety read the play and get to the point of attack quick, they have Hall dead-to-rights.
Before taking him down for no gain, Hall pulls off this nifty spin move to squeeze inside both the backer and safety and grind out six yards.
It’s not like Hall is incapable of making moves, they’re just not commonly utilized. Here, he’s pressured in the backfield from the nose guard and is forced to make a quick juke to avoid the defender, then another to avoid the backer attacking the exposed B gap.
Hall does well to turn this from a possible four yard loss, to a three yard gain, with great feet and excellent balance.
Here’s the last run before we look at his ability in the pass game. For those of you who like a little razzle-dazzle, I saved the best for last.
When I saw this, it felt so uncharacteristic of Hall. He’s not much of a joystick player, that’s just not typically his game because it doesn’t need to be. But here we see multiple failed blocks on the play-side which require that Breece pull out his inner Eno Benjamin.
Spin-right, juke-right, spin-left, truck. If anyone knows the Madden button/stick combo to pull this off, drop it in the comments.
As a runner, Hall is good-to-great at a lot of stuff. Great patience, great understanding of play design, great contact balance, great burst, great feet, good vision, and good measurables. We can add good hands to the list too.
Hall has a simple release into the flat on this play, with no defenders covering him he should have an easy time of converting this 3rd down. Brock Purdy, Iowa State QB, didn’t want to make this too easy though. Purdy throws behind Hall, forcing him to spin around to make the catch, which he does.
Two things impressed me about Hall as a receiver: he’s a natural hands-catcher, and he inherently attacks the ball in the air. These are traits you look for in any pass catcher, and it’s not entirely common to see them from a running back.
Despite his hands, Hall isn’t used in the passing game often. He’ll get a couple receptions p/game, and he’ll run the typical flat or circle routes, but nothing that leads me to believe he will be an asset in the passing game at the next level. In fact, I would argue the opposite. When I watch Hall getting into a route, or taking a pass upfield, it looks unnatural for him. Some players are just as comfortable running routes as they are running power…that’s just not Hall in my eyes.
Hall isn’t a great pass blocker either. When squaring up, he shows the same issues every time. He stays too high, and he sometimes drops his head. We’ll see in the next two, he does really well to square and mirror with his feet, but his punch isn’t great and – on one – he ducks his head. Neither are quality pass block reps.
He does have a highlight-reel cut block though, I’ll give him that. Here, Hall understands his responsibility, identifies the blitzer, squares up, keeps his eyes up, and targets the inside thigh. Truly excellent cut block here.
Finally, ball security. Hall doesn’t have a history of issues with losing the ball, he keeps the ball tucked tight to his body. He occasionally carries the ball a little low when heading into contact, and almost never covers with two hands, so we’ll have to see during the ’21 season if he’s able to maintain his positive track record.
How do you feel about Breece Hall? Is the the RB1 of ’21? If not, who you got? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
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