- Receiving Skills
- Inside Run
- One Season of Production
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Kenneth Gainwell was the lead back in Mike Norvell’s spread-to-run offense, accumulating over 2000 all-purpose yards in 2019. Operating primarily out of shotgun and pistol, the running game mostly featured zone blocking schemes in an RPO-centric offense.
Gainwell redshirted his freshman year and opted out of the 2020 season, leaving him with just one season of production to lean upon entering the NFL draft. He is lean, and has sudden athleticism that catches defenders out of position to make good contact on Gainwell in most situations. His physical makeup does not translate to him being a prototypical inside runner at the next level, and it is unclear what changes, if any, he has made physically throughout 2020.
Gainwell shows great stamina, running in the fourth quarter with the same technique, leg drive, and speed that show up on his first touches of the game. Although he was not featured on special teams in college, he has shown the traits of a good return man on kickoffs. He is decisive with the ball in his hands, has a knack to make the first man miss, and will be a solid special teams contributor.
Gainwell has good vision, and complements it with elusiveness in space. In zone schemes, he has the explosion to make one cut and hit the hole with consistency. He lacks the requisite size and power to make an impact on inside runs at the next level, but reads his blocks well and presses the hole or bounces when appropriate. Gainwell has good speed, making the most of outside runs where he can get the edge. His playmaking ability is better showcased as a receiver, but he consistently makes positive yardage on runs both inside and outside.
He has the patience to allow the play to develop and not outrun his blocks. His best role at the next level would be as a sub back or number two, coming in as a slasher that can pop for a big play. Gainwell shows good ball security on every play, carrying it high and tight and squeezing the ball through the play. He has three-down ability, but does not possess the physical stature to handle a large volume of touches at the next level.
Gainwell flashes natural, strong hands and is a major weapon in the passing game. He has shown good route running and ball skills when lined up as a true receiver. He can weave through traffic on screens, and has a range of moves to make defenders miss with the ball in his hands. He thrives on downfield throws and if he were to move full-time to receiver, it would likely be a smooth transition based on his natural abilities in that area.
For his size, he is good in pass protection and shows the intelligence to know where pressure is coming from. He was mostly used as a chip-blocker, but he displayed stoutness and strength on the reps he spent blocking. Gainwell is reliable in protection, and should be a quick study at the next level.
Kenneth Gainwell profiles as a circumstantial starter at the next level, capable of playing on all three downs, but shining as a passing down back.
- Grade: 6.3
- Ceiling: 6.7 (10%)
- Floor: 5.5 (10%)