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Mike Warren, RB, Iowa State

Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads' Senior Draft Analyst
09/18/2020 1:48PM ET

The running back class in the 2019 NFL Draft class appears to be another strong one.  After a  first-team All-Big 12 season in 2017, junior David Montgomery enters 2018 as a prospect to watch.  One can certainly make the case that he will be one of the backs in the discussion for top at the position.  But this isn’t about him, this is about the Iowa State back who was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2015, Mike Warren.

The fifth-year senior was an accomplished high school sprinter who came to Iowa State known for tools and upside.  After his redshirt year in 2014, he burst onto the scene with 1,339 rushing yards, tops among all freshman in the nation.  There was a ton of chatter around him eventually being a  first-round pick, but 2016 quickly plummeted.  He battled ankle injuries and a lack of work ethic was publicly challenged by the coaching staff.  The timing was right for Warren, as the previously mentioned Montgomery arrived and took over the team’s leading rusher role.  Warren played in only nine games and finished fourth on the team in rushing in 2017.  Some have already completely written him off.

Make no mistake, Montgomery will be the top dog in that backfield.  However the coaches still remain with the notion that if and when Warren has the motivation behind his running style, he is as good as anyone.  And they mean anyone.  Warren has breakaway speed at 210+ pounds.  He excels in space and when he has the head of steam moving downhill, tacklers bounce off him initially.  He can make a lot happen with sheer talent alone.  Warren needs to run with better pad level and more hunger, but the thing is he has shown the ability to do both.  Warren will be under the microscope in limited opportunities this season but if he can show what he did in 2015, someone is going to get a late round gem.