Why the Slide?: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

This series was created in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

From 2019-2021, Isaiah Spiller was one of the most effective and consistent running backs in the SEC. He was a tough runner for the Aggies in 2019 and 2020. As a junior in 2021, however, the program’s new quarterbacks struggled, which left Spiller facing stacked fronts. Instead of being stymied though, he showed impressive receiving ability. Spiller was viewed as a likely second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he surprisingly slid to Day 3.

Pro sources told WalterFootball.com that Spiller slid because teams were concerned about his speed for the NFL. That was an issue for him going into the pre-draft workouts, and he didn’t ease anybody’s mind with his performance. The worry if Spiller has the speed to hit the hole was the biggest thing that caused him to slide.

The Los Angeles Chargers ended Spiller’s slide, and they were a good landing spot for him. The Chargers have an established starter in Austin Ekeler, but Ekeler has dealt with injuries and the team wants to use its other backs to keep Ekeler fresh and healthy. Spiller will join in a competition with 2020 fourth-rounder Joshua Kelley and 2021 sixth-rounder Larry Rountree III to be the primary backup to Ekeler. With Spiller’s versatility to function as a receiver and blocker, he could easily end up being the No. 2 back for the Chargers. If Spiller plays well in his opportunities and shows those speed concerns to be ultimately unfounded, he could end up become a starter when Ekeler starts slowing down due to age or injury.

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