Ole Miss star Quinshon Judkins notes 'concern' over RB deals in NFL

Judkins details off-season growth, Ole Miss' operations (2:31)

RB Quinshon Judkins tells SEC Network's Alyssa Lang about his growth after a strong freshman year, adding on how the Rebels' defining feature is their "swagger." (2:31)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ole Miss sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins, the SEC's leading rusher last year, told ESPN that the steady decline in value of NFL contracts for running backs is "a big concern" for him as he looks toward the future.

Interest in the topic heightened this week after a pair of the NFL's best running backs -- New York Giants star Saquon Barkley and Las Vegas Raiders All-Pro Josh Jacobs -- both failed to reach long-term deals with their respective teams `before Monday's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

"That's why I've improved my game as far as showing what I can do in the passing game," Judkins said Thursday during the final day of SEC media days. "I have a lot of receptions, a lot of passing yards. I can not only be used in the backfield, but I can also be used in the slot as well.

"So you can put me all over the field no matter what you need me to do as a playmaker. I think that as far as the next level, the way they're doing those guys is because I feel like you can only do so much at that position because of the guys who are in the league and dealing with those situations."

Barkley and Jacobs both would prefer long-term contracts to the one-year, $10.091 million value of the franchise tender for running backs, though neither can now negotiate a long-term deal until after the season.

Monday's news prompted an outcry from fellow star running backs such as Christian McCaffrey, who called the situation "criminal," and Derrick Henry, who went so far as to suggest the NFL eliminate the running back position from the game if it's not valued.

Judkins, who averaged 120.5 rushing yards per game, became the fastest true freshman in the SEC to reach 1,000 yards rushing since Florida's Emmitt Smith did so in seven games in 1987. Judkins said he's working to showcase his versatility.

"I just want to be seen as a guy who can really do it all," he said. "You don't have to just run the ball with me, rushing. You can use me all over the field. I can throw the ball, catch it, whatever you need.

"I've seen the things that they've done with the running back position and the contracts and the things in the NFL that the running backs are dealing with."

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said college football is a little different from the NFL because the college coaches run the ball a little more and don't have to worry about the players being 28 years old.

"I feel like for the most part, the skill set is so unique," Kiffin said. "It's not like they're not getting paid at all [in the NFL]. We just had a couple go high in the draft this year. I don't think that would change that. I'm more interested in if, do collectives start to figure out the value of that?"