The Cat is being let out of the bag.
Kentucky fans have long known that Chris Rodriguez is one of the most efficient and physical running backs in the entire country. He proved it as a sophomore in 2020, when he led Kentucky in rushing yards at 785 with a team-high 11 touchdowns on his way to being named a First-Team All-SEC running back by PFF. There wasn’t a single ball carrier in the SEC who averaged more yards per carry (6.6) than Rodriguez. He’s been named to several preseason watch lists and is expected to make another All-SEC Team heading into the fall of 2021.
And yet, C-Rod is still being undervalued across the country when it comes to running back rankings. A good chunk of the players often listed ahead of him are from the SEC, too, even though Rodriguez outperformed them a season ago. So it’s exciting to see articles such as the one done by Bryant McFadden of CBS Sports, who wrote earlier today that Rodriguez is the second-most underrated NFL Draft prospect ahead of the 2021 season.
2. RB Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky: The best SEC player whose name you don’t know, Rodriguez is considered a power back but averaged over 6 yards per carry last season (785 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games). At 5-foot-11 and 224 pounds, C-Rod’s got sneaky quickness and speed.
— 247Sports (@247Sports) August 13, 2021
“The best SEC player whose name you don’t know,” couldn’t be a more accurate description of Rodriguez, but that should change here in a few months. Even with a new offense under offensive coordinator Liam Coen that hopes to put the ball in the air more than usual, Rodriguez is still the bell cow of what makes Kentucky dangerous. Lining up behind one of the best groups of offensive linemen in the entire country makes him an even more lethal threat.
For those interested, here is the rest of McFadden’s top 20 need-to-know NFL prospects
1. QB Michael Penix Jr., Indiana
2. RB Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky
3. EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
4. OL Cain Madden, Notre Dame
5. DB Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
6. EDGE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
7. TE Cole Turner, Nevada
8. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
9. RB Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama
10. WR David Bell, Purdue
11. OL Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
12. DB Trent McDuffie, Washington
13. TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
14. WR Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
15. LB DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
16. WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State
17. EDGE Keion White, Georgia Tech
18. EDGE Tyreke Smith, Ohio State
19. OL Dylan Parham, Memphis
20. DB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State