The SEC has had a running back selected in Round 1 in each of the past 5 NFL Drafts. In 2017, Leonard Fournette went No. 4 overall. In 2018, Sony Michel went No. 31 overall. In 2019, Josh Jacobs was taken No. 24 overall. In 2020, Clyde Edwards-Helaire went No. 32 overall. And, this year, Najee Harris went to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 24th pick.

Based on the talent returning to SEC backfields this fall, it is very possible that the league extends that streak to 6 years when the 2022 NFL Draft comes around next April.

The league is loaded at the running back position, even after losing Harris, Larry Rountree III and Kylin Hill, among others. But when crafting the perfect SEC RB for the 2021 campaign, we can’t use everyone’s skills.

So, here are the guys who have the elite skills that, when combined, would create an unstoppable force coming out of the backfield:

Body: Kevin Harris, South Carolina

When you think of a typical running back build, you probably picture Harris. He’s not the tallest guy, standing at only 5-10, but he’s a thick, muscular 230 pounds. He is fast, but doesn’t sacrifice his power, either.

It was this Harris, not Alabama RB Najee Harris, who led the SEC in rushing yards per game, edging Najee with 113.8 yards per game to Najee’s 112.8. Najee had an SEC-high 1,466 yards to Kevin’s 1,138. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Kevin could have been the SEC’s leading rusher if he’d played 13 games like Najee instead of only 10.

Of course, Najee scored 26 touchdowns to Kevin’s 15, so Najee definitely had the edge there.

Still, Kevin had a heck of a season. Both Kevin and Najee ran for 5 touchdowns against Ole Miss’s hapless defense. Kevin had a pair of really nice runs. On both these plays, he shows patience, makes 1 cut and then is gone:

South Carolina was a run-heavy offense in 2020. Yes, there’s a new regime in place with head coach Shane Beamer, but Kevin Harris is still going to be a big part of the Gamecocks’ offense. Expect him to be among the league leaders in every rushing category again this season.

Power: Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky

When Kentucky managed to win last season (finishing with an overall record of 5-6), it was largely thanks to Chris Rodriguez, who averaged around 8 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns in the Wildcats’ victories.

If you had to sum up Rodriguez’s running style in 1 word, that word would be “violent.” He was not going to be denied on this short touchdown run in the Wildcats’ bowl win over NC State:

He’s not the fastest or the biggest guy, but he gets the job done every time his number is called. Here he is on a career-long TD run:

He’s a machine, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares under new Kentucky OC Liam Coen. He’s a budding superstar, and Coen should feed him the rock early and often in 2021.

Speed: Jerrion Ealy, Ole Miss

Speed isn’t just about how fast you can run at full speed. It’s also important to get up to full speed quickly. Ealy does that really well. When he sees a sliver of daylight, he hits it at a sprint.

Look at how quickly he bursts through the line on this run against Florida:

Then there’s this 78-yard touchdown run against Vanderbilt, where he manages to keep dodging defenders while moving up the field at full speed:

He’s also a contributor on special teams, and has proven himself to be one of the more dangerous kickoff returners in the SEC:

Lane Kiffin and Jeff Lebby are going to find lots of ways to get Ealy the ball in space this fall. He should have a big year, taking over some of the touches that Elijah Moore had last year as a receiver.

Athleticism: Tank Bigsby, Auburn

Tank Bigsby certainly lives up to his name. Even as a true freshman in 2020, he was an absolute beast. He ran for 834 yards, averaging just over 6 yards per carry. He only found the end zone 5 times as a runner, but that had more to do with the Auburn offense than anything else.

Bigsby’s jump cuts are particularly devastating. You can see them all over this highlight video:

That’s about everything you could possibly want from a running back. Then there’s this stiff-arm, followed by the sideline tightrope walk and dive for the end zone:

Now that he’s working with a new offensive coordinator in Mike Bobo, it’s going to be really interesting to see how he’s used in 2021. He also will likely be back at Auburn in 2022, as he still won’t be eligible for the NFL Draft after this season. He could go down as an all-time great at Auburn.

Vision: Zamir White, Georgia

White displayed his patience and diagnostic ability during his 2020 season, in which he scored 11 touchdowns while running for 779 yards. He’s going to once again share the load in the backfield with James Cook and others, but he should be RB1.

Why? Well, look at these highlights. The way he sets up his blockers, makes 1 cut and then turns on the jets is elite:

When you’re a patient runner like White (or like Le’Veon Bell in the NFL), sometimes you’re going to be tackled at the line of scrimmage. But, sometimes, you give your linemen time to make their blocks and then you’re in the clear. White is good at that, and he’ll have more room to run with JT Daniels keeping defenses honest in the passing game.

Big-play ability: Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M

Spiller is the SEC’s second-leading returning rusher, only 102 yards behind Kevin Harris (1,036 yards to 1,138). And he’s simply impossible to bring down. Just ask any of Texas A&M’s 2020 opponents.

Florida LB Ventrell Miller learned that lesson the hard way, as Spiller showed off his big-time power to score a decisive touchdown against the Gators:

Plenty of other defenders looked foolish trying to stop Spiller, too, though. Look at him embarrass the entire LSU defense here:

Yes, the Maroon Goons had a lot to do with Spiller’s success, clearing the way ahead of him in impressive fashion. But, even when Spiller was contacted behind the line of scrimmage, like he was on this play in the Orange Bowl against North Carolina, he left defenders in his dust:

With a new quarterback and several new linemen, Spiller will have to be even better in 2021. It’s probably safe to say he’ll continue to give defenders nightmares moving forward.

Hands: Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

Smith is the ultimate weapon. He led the Aggies in receiving yards in 2020, with 564. He tied TE Jalen Wydermyer with 6 touchdown grabs. Wydermyer held the slight edge in total catches, 46 to 43.

But Smith also added value as a rusher, toting the ball 49 times for 293 yards and 4 touchdowns. So, yeah, he’s more of a receiver at this point than a running back, probably. But I’m including him in this section because he is still technically listed as a running back on A&M’s roster.

He’s a matchup nightmare. Look at how much space he creates against this overmatched North Carolina defender in the Orange Bowl:

Then, there was this tightrope-walking touchdown against Alabama:

Smith will have to work with a new quarterback in 2021, as Kellen Mond is now a Minnesota Viking. But, with his talent, and with Jimbo Fisher drawing up plays for him, expect big things from the explosive hybrid receiver/running back this fall.