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2023 NFL Draft - Running Back Big Board

(Mandatory Image Credit: Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports)

Written by: Joseph Yun

We’re deep into the offseason draft process with the postseason all-star games and the Combine completed. Pro Days are beginning to hot up amidst a sure-to-be wild free agency period. The running back class is shaping up to be a rather loaded group, as it has been for years. Are there any in the 2023 draft that could turn into impact first-year starters like Breece Hall, Tyler Allgeier, Javonte Williams, Kenneth Walker, and Michael Carter have done? Will any of these future pros reach the heights of CMC, Chubb, Henry, Zeke, and Dalvin Cook?

If you missed any of the previous big board articles, they can be found below:

Note: All statistics courtesy of college football reference and RAS courtesy of Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb)

1. Bijan Robinson | 5’11 215 | Texas | Junior

- Robinson is being touted as an once in a generation type runner and with good reason. He’s far ahead of the pack in terms of overall package. An outstanding athlete as the RAS matches the tape. He’s a good receiver as well and a willing blocker even if the technique isn’t the best. A physical monster who breaks tackles when challenged but likes to bounce things to the perimeter to best use his speed and lateral agility. However, he runs pretty upright at times, leaving his body exposed to bigger defenders and losing leverage as a result. Vision and instinct are major pluses to his game. He leaves an incredible legacy in Austin, ranking fourth in yards (3,410), eighth in touchdowns (33), fourth in total scrimmage yards (4,215), and fourth in total touchdowns (41) all time. Style wise, he resembles the great young talent Saquon Barkley. In terms of size and athleticism, he profiles similar to another youthful star in Breece Hall. The former Longhorns runner should be a first round selection, no questions asked.

2022 Statistics: 258 attempts for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns; 19 receptions for 314 yards and two touchdowns

Player Comp: Saquon Barkley

RAS Comp: Breece Hall

Round Projection: First Round

2. Jahmyr Gibbs | 5’9 199 | Alabama | Junior

- After two good seasons including a standout lead act in 2021 at Georgia Tech, Gibbs transferred to Alabama in 2022. He has the potential to be the most dynamic and electric running back in the entire class. He’s a true dual threat weapon with over 100 receptions and 1,200 yards to his name. Gibbs posted 3,344 yards and 23 touchdowns from scrimmage in just three seasons. The athleticism is truly wondrous when he gets in open space. He does have some limitations as a blocker though given his size. As a player, he profiles similar to superstar athlete Alvin Kamara but athletically, he resembles rising sophomore sensation Kenneth Walker III. The former Alabama product should go no lower than the second round.

2022 Statistics: 151 attempts for 926 yards and seven touchdowns; 44 receptions for 444 yards and three touchdowns

Player Comp: Alvin Kamara

RAS Comp: Kenneth Walker III

Round Projection: First to Second Round

3. Zach Charbonnet | 6’0 214 | UCLA | Senior

- Charbonnet transferred to UCLA from Michigan during the 2021 offseason. He posted consecutive 1,000+ yards and double-digit touchdowns during his time in Westwood. He’s an underrated athlete who has the first-step quickness and instincts to make it happen after first contact. ZC isn’t the home run threat that others are in the class but is a solid slap hitter type. There’s value in that and he could be a top-ten caliber back in time. The former Bruins runner brings a solid pass-catching ability to the table as well. A top-three position rank is in store for the former UCLA runner after a standout 2022 where he cemented it after 2021. He will likely be a Day 2 selection as a result. He profiles similarly to recently retired Seattle running back Chris Carson. Athletically, he matches up to Tampa Bay's emerging star Rachaad White.

2022 Statistics: 195 attempts for 1,359 yards and 14 touchdowns; 37 receptions for 321 yards

Player Comp: Chris Carson

RAS Comp: Rachaad White

Round Projection: Second to Third Round

4. Tyjae Spears | 5’9 201 | Tulane | Redshirt Junior

- Spears broke out in 2021 and almost doubled his production across the board in 2022. He was the RB1 in Mobile by a significant margin after eviscerating USC in the bowl game. The former Tulane star is a natural with the ball in his hands, a smooth athlete who can accelerate very quickly. He’s had zero fumbles in his career to date. Provides solid receiving value as well. He profiles similarly to now former Seattle running back Travis Homer. While he probably won’t be a lead back initially, the potential to become one is there. He will likely be an early Day 3 selection or could sneak into late Day 2.

2022 Statistics: 229 attempts for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns; 22 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns

Player Comp / RAS Comp: Travis Homer

Round Projection: Third to Fourth Round

5. Roschon Johnson | 6’0 219 | Texas | Senior

- Johnson is oft-cited as the “other” back at UT living in Bijan’s shadow but he is a talent unto himself. The former quarterback made the transition to running back after his freshman season. The counting stats won’t bear it out but had he not been usurped by Robinson, he would have had an impressive career as an RB1. He’s a physical back who isn’t the most athletic in the class but is serviceable in the right system. A tough competitor who won’t go down easy and is a willing blocker. A capable receiver out of the backfield. Certain teams could use him as a third-down / goalline situational type in tandem with an athlete. The former Longhorns rusher projects as an early to middle Day 3 selection. The athletic and style profile is similar to that of veteran Jamaal Williams.

2022 Statistics: 93 attempts for 554 yards and five touchdowns; 14 receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown

Player / RAS Comp: Tyler Allgeier / Jamaal Williams

Round Projection: Fourth

6. Tank Bigsby | 5’11 210 | Auburn | Junior

- The former five-star recruit was a force to be reckoned with from the moment he stepped onto The Plains until his last collegiate carry. 2021 was productive for him as he rushed for over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns. 2022 could be considered even more productive, given the terrible circumstances surrounding the Auburn program. Coaching turnover drama (Auburn has a penchant for these), lack of OL talent, and a greenhorn QB all could’ve brought his stock down. He has lived up to his nickname by being the fast battering ram no one wants to face. Tank is a versatile system runner with different offensive-minded coaches populating his career. Bigsby is a surefire Day 3 steal that profiles like Tyler Allgeier as a player. Athletic testing resembles that of former Tampa Bay rusher Michael Pittman.

2022 Statistics: 179 attempts for 970 yards and ten touchdowns; 30 receptions for 180 yards

Player Comp: Tyler Allgeier

RAS: Michael Pittman (Tampa Bay RB)

Round Projection: Fourth

7. Devon Achane | 5’8 188 | Texas A&M | Junior

- Achane is a track star with impressive speed and athleticism to go anywhere he wants to. The former Aggie runner is a speed demon with the ball in his hands, and it’s improbable that he’s caught in open space. However, the size will likely limit him to special teams and as a change of pace style back. He ran a blistering 4.32 40 at the Combine. He is a playmaker in every sense of the word, like his A&M forebearer Dante Hall before him. Teams will likely go over his medicals with a fine tooth comb as he missed a couple of games in 2022 with an injury. Although Achane is lighter than him, he profiles similarly to former Oregon superstar Kenjon Barner. His impressive athleticism and track capabilities will likely get him drafted as a top reserve and utility receiver on Day 3.

2022 Statistics: 196 attempts for 1,102 yards and eight touchdowns; 36 receptions for 196 yards and three touchdowns

Player / RAS Comp: Kenjon Barner

Round Projection: Fifth to Sixth

8. Kendre Miller | 5’11 215 | TCU | Junior

- Miller was an uber-productive runner in 2022, ranking in the top 15 for yards and eighth for rushing touchdowns. He bowed out of the national title game against Georgia due to an injury. He was unable to do the on-field drills at the Combine. The TCU rusher is a balanced runner but lacks the extra gear many of his peers have. He could be used as a goal-line/short-yardage hammer with a smaller runner in tandem. Teams will review his medicals more thoroughly as well. The good news is that he has increased his annual production every season and doubled his yardage as a junior from his sophomore campaign. His athletic profile is comparable to that of Trey Sermon. This prospect is trending towards being a middle to late Day 3 selection.

2022 Statistics: 224 attempts for 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns; 16 receptions for 116 yards

Player / RAS: Trey Sermon

Round Projection: Fifth

9. Kenny McIntosh | 6’0 204 | Georgia | Senior

- McIntosh finally earned the starter’s reps in 2022 after backing up James Cook and Zamir White in 2020 and 2021. He didn’t disappoint with the defending national champions as he posted a monstrous PPR showing with 1,334 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. He’s a better athlete than the 4.62 40 indicates. Georgia’s leading rusher is a serious dual-threat weapon with only 355 career touches to his name, so the tread on his legs isn’t as worn on him. Indeed, he was at a near 50/50 split with his backfield mate Daijun Edwards in 2022. A solid athlete with an ideal frame that has positive vision and instincts. The former Bulldogs runner was a Senior Bowl standout. KM currently projects as a possible Day 2 selection but will likely settle in the early Day 3 range. The athletic and style profile is a match for former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake, who has carved out a nice role in the NFL.

2022 Statistics: 149 attempts for 829 yards and ten touchdowns; 43 receptions for 505 yards and two touchdowns

Player / RAS: Kenyan Drake

Round Projection: Third to Fourth

10. Israel Abanikanda | 5’11 216 | Pitt | Junior

- Izzy might be the most underrated back in the class. He quietly went about his business for 20 touchdowns and 1400+ yards for Pitt, who didn’t win the ACC Coastal this season. Abanikanda was in a timeshare during the 2021 season before becoming the lead in 2022. He’s so effortlessly smooth in open space and has the home run ability to strike from anywhere. His production more than doubled in yards and touchdowns, while the receiving stats were down a tick. 2022 proved that he’s capable of being the lead hammer, and he is relatively fresh to sharing time earlier in his career. The production wasn’t there in the passing game, but he has shown good hands and is a willing blocker. Pitt’s latest star rusher has a similar athletic and style profile to former Notre Dame standout C.J. Prosise. He projects to be an early Day 3 selection for a team who can rely on a two-headed hydra before handing him the reins eventually.

2022 Statistics: 239 attempts for 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns; 12 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown

Player / RAS Comp: C.J. Prosise

Round Projection: Fourth to Fifth

11. Eric Gray | 5’9 207 | Oklahoma | Senior

- Gray transferred to Oklahoma from Tennessee in 2021 and blossomed in 2022 after backing up Kennedy Brooks. The former Sooner burst onto the scene with a 1,300-yard season as the main guy. While not the biggest, he’s a solid athlete who can provide teams with a dual-threat capability with solid hands. He stood out at the Senior Bowl, showing his worth as a pass catcher. However, he is profiled as a good COP RB2 type who can come in on third downs. While not being a workhorse, he can be a good guy who can make a couple of spot starts here and there at the next level. Style and traits-wise, he compares to current Broncos star Javonte Williams.

2022 Statistics: 213 attempts for 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns; 33 receptions for 229 yards

Player / RAS Comp: Javonte Williams

Round Projection: Fifth to Sixth

12. Sean Tucker | 5’9 207 | Syracuse | Junior

- Tucker was a star for the Orange for two consecutive seasons as the primary ball carrier. He also ran track during the spring. RB12 is a good burst athlete. The precipitous decline in production is a minor concern as he maintained his PPR value to a degree. The former Syracuse rusher has great traits to be an effective RB2 type that can spell the main workhorse. A good sign is that he worked in the passing game, increasing his receptions annually. He currently projects to be a middle to late Day 3 selection. The athletic and style profile resembles former Miami Hurricane runner Duke Johnson who has had a few years in the league.

2022 Statistics: 206 attempts for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns; 36 receptions for 254 yards

Player / RAS Comp: Duke Johnson

Round Projection:

13. Chase Brown | 5’9 204 | Illinois | Redshirt Senior

- Brown is another Senior Bowl standout who stood out at the Combine. He’s not the biggest back in the class, but he has tree trunks for legs. SB has a ton of power and leg drive as a result. After a 1000-yard season in 2021, he exploded for a 1,600-yard and ten-touchdown campaign in 2022. The former Illini rusher also provides a dual threat as a receiver out of the backfield. He’s a fluid athlete, as the testing numbers bear out in the RAS. Another positive is that he has increased his production every year. The bloodline is impressive as his father played in the CFL, and his twin brother Sydney is a standout athlete for the Illini. Both style and athletic testing resemble former Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill.

2022 Statistics: 328 attempts for 1,643 yards and ten touchdowns; 27 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns

Player Comp / RAS Comp: Justice Hill

Round Projection: Fifth to Sixth

14. Chris Rodriguez, Jr | 6’0 217 | Kentucky | Redshirt Senior

- Rodriguez is a bigger back that isn’t the most athletic in the class. Teams will certainly do their research as to why he was suspended for the first four games of the 2022 season due to an off-season DUI. Regardless, he did post a 900-yard season. 2021 was his best year statistically, with 1,378 yards and ten touchdowns. He wasn’t used much as a receiver, peaking in 2021 with 13 receptions in 2021. Due to his size and athleticism, the former Wildcat runner projects as a hammering two-down type with the lion’s share of goal-line duties. His play style and athleticism remind me of former Utah runner Devontae Booker. He has the potential to get drafted on late Day 3.

2022 Statistics: 175 attempts for 904 yards and six touchdowns; five receptions for 41 yards

Player / RAS Comp: Devontae Booker

Round Projection: Sixth to Seventh



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