2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: North Dakota State FB Hunter Luepke

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling North Dakota State FB Hunter Luepke.

#44 Hunter Luepke, FB, North Dakota State (Senior) – 6010, 235lb

Senior Bowl/Combine Invite


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Hunter Luepke 6’1, 235lb 8 5/8 31 1/2 N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.56* N/A N/A N/A
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
N/A 36.5*

*Indicates Pro Day Results

The Good

— Has good size and a sturdy frame
— Versatile chess piece lining up at RB, FB, H-Back, TE, and slot WR
— Strong runner in-between the tackles that invites contact
— Can lower the shoulder and break through arm tackles routinely, often taking more than one to bring him down
— Displays good contact balance as a runner
— Has noticeable acceleration in the open field
— Impressive receiving skills for the position
— Can run routes out of the backfield as well as from in-line/in the slot
— Can work vertically down the filed on wheels and leaks up the sideline
— Does a good job tracking the ball in the air
— Displays impressive body control and reliable hands
— Gets involved as a blocker in the run game
— Will motion across the LOS or lead up the hole to pick off the defenders
— Will be able to contribute on special teams out the gate

The Bad

— Doesn’t have great long speed or quickness for the position
— Isn’t going to make many defenders miss in the open field
— Exposes himself to big hits running more upright with his pads
— Will not run away from many defenders at the next level
— Gets away with being bigger and stronger as a blocker at the FCS level
— Needs to improve technique and execution as a blocker at the next level
— Has a lengthy injury history including a torn labrum this past season


— Redshirt Senior prospect from Spencer, WI
— Four-year starter and two-year captain in HS where he played running back, linebacker, defensive end, and returned kicks
— Four-time conference champion and three-time state qualifier in wrestling, school’s first state champion wrestler
— Three-time all-conference center fielder in baseball, conference champion in the 100-meter dash in track
— Committed to NDSU in 2018 and redshirted his first season
— Played in 14 games including two starts in 2019 and recorded five carries for 43 yards and a TD along with 11 receptions for 96 yards and a TD
— Played in six of ten games including five starts in 2020, missed the first four games of the spring season with an injury and had 84 carries for 458 yards (5.5YPC) and six TDs along with four receptions for 37 yards and a score
— Played in 13 of 15 games and made four starts in 2021 and had 87 carries for 543 yards (6.2 YPC) and eight TDs and caught nine passes for 165 yards and three TDs
— Started first ten games of the season before missing the final five contests due to injury in 2022 and had 98 carries for 621 yards (6.3 YPC) and nine touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 196 yards and four touchdowns
— 2020-21, 2021, 2022 All-America First Team, 2022 Associated Press FCS All-America Second Team, 2020-21, 2021, 2022 All-MVFC First Team, 2018, 2020-21, 2021, 2022 MVFC Honor Roll
— Bachelor’s degree in finance

Tape Breakdown

For my last pre-draft profile of the 2023 season, decided to break down North Dakota State FB Hunter Luepke. The position of fullback should come with an asterisk by it as Luepke is a versatile chess piece that has played all over for the Bison offense, lining up at RB, FB, TE, H-Back, slot WR, and as a Wildcat QB. The three-sport superstar in high school has done well wearing many hats at the FCS level, earning All-America honors as both an accomplished rusher and receiver for the powerhouse NDSU program.

As you can see from the clip above, Luepke is a skilled pass catcher, whether it be from the backfield as well as from in-line or in the slot. He has natural hands and does a good job securing the catch. Leupke also has shown good body control on catches downfield like the one shown above and can get the better of defenses that fail to account for him in the passing game. Here is an example of that against Arizona where Luepke runs the wheel route from the backfield and gets loose down the sideline, catching the wide-opening TD.

Here’s another play Luepke makes in the passing game in the same contest, this time from the TE position on the right side of the LOS. Watch him complete the drag across the field and then go up along the left sideline, getting free from coverage as he turns around and manages to make the catch in-bounds to set the Bison up inside the five-yard-line.

As a runner, Luepke can be a bruiser in-between the tackles. He runs with a full head of steam and can be tough to stop when coming downhill. Luepke excels in short-yardage situations as you can see in the clips below, taking the handoff as a traditional tailback and hits the hole hard, carrying multiple defenders with him as he attempts to pick up additional yardage after contact.

He runs with a fair amount of contact balance as you can see in this clip below, following his blockers as he jumps out of a defender flying in at his feet and gets up field as he reaches the first down marker.

There are occasions on tape where Luepke puts it all together and goes full beast mode reminiscent of Miami Dolphins HOF Larry Csonka, running like a bowling ball through multiple defenders like on this long TD run against the Wildcats, getting into the open field and turning on the jets to the end zone.

Hunter Luepke has also shown the capability of contributing as a blocker both in-line as well as from the lead blocker position. He needs to do a better job in terms of being consistent with his technique and his aggressiveness, but the ability is there like you see on this rep against South Dakota State where takes the fake handoff and leads up the hole for his QB, taking on the safety to spring the runner into the end zone for the score.


Hunter Luepke has a skill set that is attractive to the NFL game. He can operate as a rusher, receiver, and blocker from a variety of spots. He may not have elite speed, quickens, or acceleration, but he projects to be a capable short-yardage back and reliable safety valve in the passing game. Luepke also needs to improve his nuances as a blocker, but the size and skill set are there to function as a capable starting lead blocker at fullback at the next level.

While I brought up the Larry Csonka mention earlier, a more accurate comparison for Luepke is current 49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk. Juszczyk, like Luepke, is a versatile chess piece, mixing it up as a runner as well as an accomplished receiver in an ever-morphing San Francisco offense. He came out of Harvard as a TE, and has similar size and measurables to Luepke (6’1 1/4”, 248lb), but is more of an accomplished blocker at this stage of his career.

Juszczyk was selected in the fourth round of the draft, and I would expect Luepke to go somewhere just aa bit later in that Day Three range. The previous injury history makes his projection a little cloudier, but if his medicals check out. He would be a great option to add to an offense looking to add a multiple skill set player who brings physicality to the equation. The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t brought back Derek Watt who remains a free agent, and while Connor Heyward could factor in there, Luepke profiles as a more natural fit at FB with the capability to contribute with the ball in his hands as well.

Projection: Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 6.9 MED –Backup/Special Teamer (5th Round)
Games Watched: at Arizona (2022), vs South Dakota State (2022), vs Youngstown State (2022)

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