Kenneth Gainwell

Preseason Scouting Notes: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

Redshirt Sophomore | 5’11″ 195 lbs | Yazoo City, MS


A quick and elusive back with good vision, a tough mentality with the ball, and positional versatility



Kenneth Gainwell is entering his third year in the Memphis Tigers’ program, which has stealthily churned out several NFL skill position player sin the past few years. As a running back in the Tigers’ spread offense, Gainwell has emerged as a playmaker that you want to have the ball in his hands.  He currently sits at 2nd in the Memphis record books with 6.6 yards per carry, and 6th in career 100-yard games with 7 with just 1 full season as a starter under his belt. He led all FBS freshmen with 2,069 all purpose yards in 2019, joining DeAngelo Williams and Darrell Henderson as the only Tigers to have 2,000 or more all-purpose yards in a season. Gainwell was unanimously named First Team All-Conference, and garnered AAC Rookie of the Year and a Freshman All-American honors after his 2019 season. Having been named to the both the Doak Walker and Maxwell Award watchlists for 2020, the former 3-star recruit looks to cement his name in the minds of front offices with a solid 2020 season.


– Elusive with the ball in his hands. Makes defenders miss with agility and quickness
– Good vision. Sees lanes/holes opening up as they happen and hits them for a positive gain
– Not afraid to be physical and runs behind his pads
– Keeps churning his feet through contact and fights for more yards
– Good ball security. Does not cough up the ball
– Does not try to do more than he is capable of and refrains from getting overly fancy in his running style. Gets what yards are available and does not give up ground in the hopes of finding more space to run
– Versatility to line up at receiver
– Natural catcher of the football with soft hands

Areas To Improve:

– Strong for his size but not a lot of power overall
– While quick and agile with good burst, he has not displayed true breakaway speed
– Flashes the ability to set up defenders for blockers and cut backs, but needs to do so more consistently
– Contact balance is merely sufficient, and does not break an abundance of tackles
– Does not have a lot of pass protection reps, but has displayed physicality in the reps he has had
– Could stand to add some weight and fill out his frame a bit more

Injury Concerns:



Gainwell has the tools at his disposal to be a weapon for offenses at the NFL level. His versatility to lineup in the backfield and out at receiver is something that many offenses will find valuable, and will expand both the number of roles he can fill and teams he can be a fit with. His best fit will be as a running back in zone running schemes due to his experience in Memphis’ spread offense, but his skill set allows him to work in several offensive schemes in various roles.  He has the potential to be the type of player that teams will want to get the ball to in any way possible, and teams that need to add a slippery playmaker to their offense will find him available on Day 2. Whether it is as a running back or as a slot receiver, Gainwell will have a the opportunity to be a playmaker at the NFL level

What To Watch In 2020:

Gainwell will have the opportunity to showcase his talents in 2020 with the American Conference currently being to track to play a season. He will need to display more speed if he can, and showcase more of his ability to set up defenders while he has the ball in his hands. Both of these aspects will allow him to make more game breaking plays out of what would otherwise be good gains, something NFL teams will take notice of. Improving his strength and working on his contact balance will allow him to break more tackles, and additional muscle mass should make him more capable of enduring an NFL season. While he was not necessarily bad in his limited pass protection reps, continuing to improve and display the ability to contribute in that area can only help his draft stock.