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June 09, 2021

Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons: Kenny Gainwell

Eagles NFL
060921KennyGainwell Matt Slocum/Eagles pool photo

Kenny Gainwell

During this semi-dead period of the offseason, we'll be comparing each of the Philadelphia Eagles' rookies to current or former NFL players. Today we'll find a comp for fifth-round running back Kenny Gainwell.

Previous player comp profiles

DeVonta Smith • Landon Dickerson • Milton Williams • Zech McPhearson

Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, Gainwell was one of my favorite prospects to watch. He opted out of the 2020 season, after he lost four family members to COVID, but he was extremely productive in 2019, when he rushed 231 times for 1459 yards (6.1 yards per carry), and 13 TDs, while also adding 51 receptions for 610 yards and 3 TDs through the air.

You've likely all seen his highlight reels, but in case you haven't, here you go: 

As a player, Gainwell has some running back / slot receiver versatility, much like a number of other players coming out of Memphis in recent years, like Tony Pollard (Cowboys) and Antonio Gibson (WASTEAM). But the player he most reminds me of is Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler.

First, their measurables:

Measurable Kenny Gainwell Austin Ekeler 
Height 5'8 3/8" 5'8 5/8" 
Weight 201 198 
40 time 4.47 4.48 
Vertical jump 35" 40 1/2" 
 Broad jump121" 128" 
 Short shuttle4.46 4.28 
 3-cone7.26 6.92 

Like Gainwell, Ekeler was an extremely productive player in college (at tiny Western Colorado), both as a runner and as a receiver. He had 5,857(!) career rushing yards, and added 1,215 yards as a receiver. In hindsight, I'm not quite sure how Ekeler didn't get drafted.

In the NFL, Ekeler has been highly productive as a passing down back. In his four seasons, he has averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 401 carries, and he has 212 career catches for 2079 yards and 16 TDs. A look at his highlights: 

It's reasonable to assume that the Eagles will use Gainwell similarly to the way the Chargers have used Ekeler, especially since offensive coordinator Shane Steichen coached Ekeler for four years in San Diego and L.A.

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