Camerun Peoples is aptly named.
Peoples ended his college career in 2022, and he’ll be missed in Boone, North Carolina. Few Sun Belt running backs featured a blend of speed and power quite like Peoples, who is capable of turning a short carry into a breakaway run.
When turning on Peoples’ highlights, you’re likely to see the running back powering through arm tackles and refusing to go down. He’s an aggressive runner and played for an Appalachian State team that loved to use physical running to overpower foes. It was a match made in heaven, and Peoples could shine on an NFL team in need of a physical runner with underrated agility.
As a result of App State’s offensive philosophy, Peoples used his power to run for 2,830 yards on his 455 career carries, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Peoples averaged at least 5.6 yards per carry every year of his collegiate career, perhaps the most impressive stat from his college playing days.
Peoples has a knack for finding the end zone, scoring 31 rushing touchdowns from 2020-22. Peoples wasn’t a prolific receiver for the Mountaineers, but he was a willing and able blocker in pass protection.
If you follow the NFL closely – or even if you don’t – you’ve likely heard plenty about running backs lacking positional value. Teams often find unheralded players late in the NFL Draft or in free agency.
Peoples fits the mold as an unheralded running back who could find himself producing on Sundays. He might slip out of the NFL Draft entirely, but the team that adds Peoples will be pleased with his ability.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Peoples works well in tight spaces. Sun Belt defensive coordinators struggled to properly slow down Peoples. Even when linebackers and defensive linemen seemingly stopped the runner near the line of scrimmage, he broke free with either quick cuts in crowds or an impressive leg drive to pull tacklers forward. He’s an exciting running back to watch, largely because it takes a strong defensive effort to get Peoples on the ground.
Peoples might not be an every-down back at the NFL level – although his pass blocking suggests he could develop into that type of workhorse – but he’s an intriguing option in short-yardage situations. For teams looking to complement a speedy back with a bruising runner, Peoples offers significant upside. Given the toll playing in the NFL takes on a running back, teams often use a few running backs, and Peoples has the skills to work into a running back committee as a rookie.
He runs hard, cuts well in crowds, and runs over smaller defenders. Peoples gives NFL teams the type of short-yardage production with every-down upside that makes a running back worthy of a late-round draft pick.
Should Peoples hear his name called at the end of the 2023 NFL Draft, it won’t be a surprise. If he doesn’t, he’ll likely be one of the hottest names on the undrafted free agent market.