NDN: Hunter Luepke is one of the most versatile players in the NFL Draft

North Dakota State’s Hunter Luepke holds off a South Dakota player during a football game on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.Usd Vs Ndsu 001
North Dakota State’s Hunter Luepke holds off a South Dakota player during a football game on Saturday, September 24, 2022, at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.Usd Vs Ndsu 001 /

This week’s NFL Draft Notebook looks at one of the more versatile players in the 2023 NFL Draft, North Dakota State fullback Hunter Luepke. What makes him such a valued prospect is his ability to play either fullback, H-back, or even running back due to his unique talent.

In addition to giving our scouting report on Luepke, this week’s article also looks at the top ten performances from NFL Draft prospects last week, names our Rookie of the Week, highlights a highly thought of player (who is just now performing at the level he should), and much more!

Hunter Luepke Scouting Report

Not very often do football fans get excited about a fullback prospect in the NFL Draft. However, one player NFL fans should be keeping an eye on this year is North Dakota State’s, Hunter Luepke. The reason he is such a promising prospect is the versatility that will allow him to make an impact in several ways at the next level.

Coming out of Spencer High School, Luepke was not a highly sought-after recruit, only earning a two-star rating despite rushing for 4,452 yards and 82 touchdowns during his prep career. The only offers he received coming out of high school were from FCS schools including Northern Iowa and North Dakota State.

In his first year at North Dakota State, he did not see the field and ended up taking a redshirt year. He started two games in 2019, yet was still able to make All-Missouri Valley Football Conference team. Luepke really started to make a name for himself in the spring of 2021.

Despite missing the first four games of the season due to injury, he was still able to account for 458 rushing yards, and reached the end zone seven times in just six games. He followed up his breakthrough season, with another strong year in the fall of 2021. That year he was again named an All-American, and saw the end zone a total of 11 times, while accounting for 708 total yards.

The best season of his career has been this year. In just seven games, he is only five yards away from rushing for more yards than he had last season. Luepke has already caught a career-high 12 passes. His best game of the season came against the team’s toughest opponent, rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns vs. Arizona. In addition to being a running threat, he has been a downfield passing threat as well, hauling in a 30-yard touchdown pass vs. South Dakota State.

When looking at how Luepke’s game translates to the NFL, his top trait is his versatility. As a runner, he is a physical ball carrier who does a great job of running in between the tackles. He also helps out in the run game by opening up rushing lanes with his lead-blocking skills.

As a receiver, NFL offensive coordinators will like his ability to line up in multiple positions and create tough cover assignments for linebackers and even safeties at times. At North Dakota State he has aligned at fullback, running back, and even as an H-back at times and should be able to play all of these positions in the NFL. In addition to his versatility, he also shows soft hands and the ability to sneak out of the backfield and make plays downfield.

One area NFL teams may want to see more from him is as a lead blocker. While he has held up in this area in college, he has seen limited snaps as a pure lead blocker. The main reason for this is that the Bison want to get the ball in his hands. He could show scouts more in this area during Senior Bowl week, which would only help his draft stock.

When it comes to where Hunter Luepke will go in the 2023 NFL Draft, it is hard to see a team taking a fullback before the fifth or sixth round. Despite him likely being drafted late, look for him to make an impact as a rookie. His ideal fit would be with a team who runs a West Coast Offense and will use him in a similar way to the San Fransico 49ers use Kyle Juszczyk.

NFL Draft Prospects Top Ten Performances of Week Eight

1. Bo Nix, QB, Oregon 
Going into the season I wrote about how Bo Nix was a player who had all the potential to be a great player but needed to put it all together. Well, Nix has done just that this season. In his latest game against previously unbeaten UCLA he threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns while completing 79% of his passes.


2. Layton Jordan, OLB, Temple 
Despite coming out on the losing end in his game against Tulsa, outside linebacker Layton Jordan had a terrific day. His day started off by picking off a pass and returning it for a 35-yard touchdown. Along with his pick-six, Jordan was also able to account for three tackles for loss and two sacks.

3. Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest
For the second time this season, Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman makes this list. This week he makes the list for his strong performance against Georgia Tech. In this game, he accounted for six touchdowns including five passing TDs.

4. Deneric Prince, RB, Tulsa
A player who had a breakthrough game this week is Tulsa running back Deneric Prince. He tore up Temple’s defense by rushing for 231 yards on just 20 carries. His best run of the day was one he took for an 84-yard touchdown. If Prince keeps performing like he did on Saturday, he will get a strong look as an undrafted free agent.


5. Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
When watching Isaiah Foskey’s game against UNLV it is hard to determine if his performance on special teams or on defense was more impressive. On special teams, he blocked two punts; on defense, he recorded three sacks. No matter how you look at it, Foskey had an outstanding game and showed scouts why he could be a late first-round pick.

6. Jason Taylor II, S, Oklahoma State
A player who came up big in Oklahoma State’s victory over Texas was safety Jason Taylor II. He grabbed two interceptions on the day, including one late in the fourth quarter. He also made an impact vs. the run by leading the team with nine tackles.

7. Xavier Gipson, WR, Stephen F Austin
This summer NFL Draft Notebook highlighted how Stephen F. Austin wide receiver Xavier Gipson was a receiver to watch, and this week he showed why. Against Southern Utah, he set a school record with 256 receiving yards on 10 receptions while also scoring two touchdowns. Gipson showed his playmaking ability in this game, and how dangerous he is after the catch, which are two of the reasons he carries a day three draft grade.

8. Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
For the second consecutive week, Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt had over 150 receiving yards in a game. After posting 207 receiving yards against Alabama two weeks ago, he hauled in seven receptions for 174 yards this week vs. Tennessee Martin. Hyatt is a player who went into the season with an undrafted free agent grade but will likely end the season with a day-two grade.

9. Marcus Fuqua, S, Buffalo
While it is doubtful Buffalo junior safety Marcus Fuqua will be in the 2023 NFL Draft, he showed the ball skills to attract scouts’ attention. In Buffalo’s win over Toledo, he picked off three passes, which gives him five on the season.

10. Connor Galvin, OT, Baylor
One of the main reasons Baylor was able to rush for 273 yards on the ground, and allowed only two sacks on the day, was the play of offensive tackle Connor Galvin. In this game, Galvin showed the skillset to play left tackle in the NFL with his impressive athletic ability.

Rookie of the Week

This week we saw several outstanding performances from the 2022 rookie class. Some of the top performances included Green Bay linebacker Quay Walker leading the Packers with 13 tackles, Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson coming away with 1.5 sacks on the day, and Pittsburgh wide receiver George Pickens hauling in an impressive touchdown reception vs. the Miami Dolphins.

However, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook Rookie of the Week is Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III. In Walker’s first start of the season, he showed he has the potential to be one of the top running backs in the NFL. In his game against the Los Angeles Chargers, he rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns. This total included an impressive 74-yard rush which sealed the win for the Seahawks.


In this game, he showed several traits that should make Seahawks fans think he can continue to produce at this level. One of these traits was impressive power. He routinely broke tackles and even when defenders were able to wrap him up, Walker kept his feet moving and gained the extra yards. This was one of his top traits coming out of college as well, having led the FBS in rushing yards after contact and forced missed tackles last year at Michigan State.

Another trait that stood out in his performance this week was his ability to allow blocks to set up and then explode through the hole. While his speed was on full display on his 74-yard touchdown carry, this ability also showed up on several runs. One example of this came on his second carry where he saw his running lane clogged up but was able to see open space to the outside. After seeing this running lane, he bounced the play outside and picked up a first down, instead of sticking with the design of the play and only picking up one or two yards.

Now the question is: can Walker continue to put up numbers like this week after week, after not having rushed for 100 yards in any other game this year? My guess is, while he might not be able to consistently rush for over 150 yards in a game, he will be one of the leading rushers in the NFL. The main reason for this is that he will now be Seattle’s starting running back with Rashaad Penny out for the year with an ankle injury. It also helps that he plays for a team that loves to run the ball and will continue to give him the rock.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— In last week’s NFL Draft Notebook we noted how Alabama cornerback Eli Ricks was having a down season this year. However, after giving up 52 points to Tennessee, the Tide decided to move Ricks into the starting lineup. He made the most out of this opportunity, blanketing receivers most of the night and finishing with four pass deflections. If he continues to play like he did vs. Mississippi State, look for him to earn back the first-round grade he had entering the season.


— Earlier in this week’s article we highlighted North Dakota State fullback Hunter Luepke. Another Bison who should hear his name called on draft day is offensive tackle, Cody Mauch. Last week, Mauch was one of two offensive linemen named to the Walter Payton Award list which goes to the top player at the FCS level. Mauch was named to this list because he has been one of the most dominant offensive linemen in college football. One trait that really stands out with him is how he always blocks to the whistle and is consistently blocking downfield.

— While Iowa’s Riley Moss is not having the same type of production he had last season when he picked off four passes, he is still having a strong season. He does an outstanding job in zone coverage showing the football intelligence to pattern read and make plays on the ball. In man coverage, Moss shows surprising agility as well and does a good job of turning his hips and sticking with wide receivers. One concern with him is that he can play out of control vs. the run which will lead to him missing some tackles.

— Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsey Scott has been putting up video game numbers this year, throwing for at least five touchdowns in each of his last three games and throwing for over 300 yards in each game. Despite this, it is unlikely he will get drafted this year. One of the reasons it is doubtful he will hear his name called in the 2023 NFL Draft is that he has been in college for seven years and during that time he went to five different schools. This will make him 25 come April. Another issue is his lack of size coming in at only 5-foot-11.

— A player who is quietly having an outstanding season is UAB running back Dewayne McBride. McBride has rushed for over 120 yards in each of his games this season and has two games where he rushed for over 190 yards in a game. As a runner, McBride is a physical back who runs with great patientice. One concern that could force him down the draft board is that he has had an issue with fumbles. In his latest game against Western Kentucky, he laid the ball on the ground twice, which gives him four fumbles on the season.

— It was another rough week for Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei this week. He turned the ball over a total of four times against Syracuse, including two fumbles and two interceptions. His poor play led to him being benched and raises questions about what type of pro prospect he is. While Uiagalelei has ideal size, a strong arm, and the mobility to move in the pocket, he only carries a seventh-round draft grade. The reason I have him rated so low is that he has trouble going through his reads, and if his first option is not open he struggles.

Quote of the Week

“He could catch the ball, he could play tailback, he could play fullback, Mike did about everything, and that’s what I see with Hunter. They utilize him as a tailback, they utilize him as a fullback and they utilize him as an H-back, using him in many different ways. They even jump into wildcat. There’s a reason why he’ll probably be the first fullback taken in the NFL and he’s that good, he can do a lot of things for them.”

-Indiana State head football coach Curt Mallory on North Dakota State fullback Hunter Luepke