NFL Hot Press: Louisiana Has Three Running Back Prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft

Louisiana Has Three Running Back Prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft

Updated June 25, 2019
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

It is far from unheard of for a school to produce multiple running back prospects for the same draft class. In the 2019 NFL Draft, Alabama had running back Josh Jacobs go in the first round and Damien Harris selected in the third round. Memphis also had two running backs drafted, Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Georgia duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were selected just picks apart late in the first round and early in the second round. The 2020 NFL Draft could see a similar situation play out for Louisiana, which has three running backs who placed on NFL teams’ preseason watch list.

The Louisiana trio consists of junior Trey Ragas, senior Raymond Calais and senior Elijah Mitchell. Ragas had the most carries (207) in that talented backfield last year and turned them in 1,191 yards – an average 5.7 yards per carry – and eight touchdowns. He also totaled 25 receptions for 229 yards and two scores. The 5-foot-11, 227-pounder is a thick back who was able to beat out two talented runners with more experience.

It is pretty astounding that Calais made the watch list considering he had only 81 carries in 2018. He did a lot of damage in those limited attempts though, averaging 9.3 yards per carry on his way to 754 yards with seven touchdowns. Calais showed some big-play potential with runs of 92 yards, 72 yards and 61 yards as a junior. The reason for seeing significantly fewer carries than Ragas or Mitchell could be size related, as Calais is listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds.

Mitchell (5-11, 221) also has an NFL build, and the thick back averaged 6.7 yards per carry last year for 977 yards with 13 touchdowns on 145 carries. He had 20 receptions for 349 yards and three scores as well.

According to some team sources, their preseason projection had Ragas and Calais as having early-round potential while Mitchell was viewed as having late-round or undrafted free agent potential. Of course that is just a rough estimate entering the year, as all three could prove to be early-rounders, undrafted players or somewhere in the middle. However, the Louisiana backfield will have eyes from all 32 teams watching in 2019 given that trio of running backs on their preseason watch list.