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Joseph Yun's 2020 RB Big Board

Photo by Jeff Hanisch, USA Today Sports

Written by: Joseph Yun

With the draft edging closer and closer by the day, it’s time to look at the top prospects at each position. The running backs are next up on the big board tour! Which running back took home RB1 honors in a really deep class? If you missed my QB rankings, you can find the top ten here.


All spider charts and comps are courtesy of

BA Grades (where applicable) are part of a comprehensive system that is used by scouts for evaluations

1. Jonathan Taylor 5’11 219 Wisconsin

- Taylor is my top-ranked running back on the board in a close race. He has it all in terms of speed, athleticism, power, and production. He assuaged my speed concerns at the Combine where he ran a blistering 4.39 in the 40. His tape is full of him just pulling away from dudes so it isn’t like he’s a fullback out there. The biggest concern that I have is his workload, like most Wisconsin backs, is immense. In just three years, he carried the ball a whopping 926 times. Not many backs with that kind of college production last long in the NFL. I do appreciate the improvement in the pass game in 2019 as well. I like his vision and instincts a bit more than the number two guy on the list. He just sees the angles and takes them.

BA Grade: 7.79

Round Projection: 1st round - 2nd round

2. D’Andre Swift 5’9 215 Georgia

- Swift is the latest in a long line of pro-ready Bulldogs backs and he just might be the best one of the bunch. He has game-breaking speed and athleticism for the position. A true home run threat on any carry. Critics will try to point to his offensive line carrying the day, while that is somewhat true but it’s clear that he has the talent. It will be surprising if he lasts until the second round but stranger things have happened.

BA Grade: 7.7

Round Grade: First Round - Second Round

3. J.K. Dobbins 5’10 217 Ohio State

- It could be argued that any of the top three have a claim to being RB1. They are that good. I would have no quibble with the argument for Dobbins. He’s the total package as far as I’m concerned. I really like him more than the other two in the tackle box. There’s quite a bit of dropoff from 3 to 4, however. I do have concerns about his workload as he racked up 725 carries in just three years.

BA Grade: 7.89

Round Grade: First Round

4. Cam Akers 5’11 212 Florida State

- Akers is one of the more underrated backs in the class due to the poor scheme and offensive line issues he’s had in his career. The former five-star recruit was likely the best quarterback on the roster as well, as sad as that is to say. He proved that he has enough athleticism to make it in the NFL at the Combine, running a 4.47. Some analysts have said that he was better than Dalvin Cook in college but I strongly disagree. Cook was a generational college talent. Akers had a bad 2018 but bounced back strongly in 2019. Most people have him ranked a bit lower but I love his tape as a top-five back in the class.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Second Round

5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire 5’8 209 LSU

- What a breakout season that CEH had in his final season. He proved his worth in the pass game as well. He’s the classic what you see is what you get type but CEH improved a ton in all aspects. Coming into 2019, his instincts and vision weren’t the best but it improved immensely. Always falls forward and rarely takes a loss. He reminds me of a more athletic Javon Ringer size and profile wise.

BA Grade: 8.34

Round Grade: Second Round

6. Zack Moss 5’10 222 Utah

- Moss was the best running back in the Pac-12 last season on conference runners up Utah. He was in contention for at least RB3 but his profile was severely restricted due to injury that caused him to miss a lot of the offseason process. I like him as a third-down back and goal-line / short-yardage at the next level due to a lack of elite burst. It’s not like he’s painfully slow but compared to other backs in the class, he’s a bit off the pace. The production can’t be denied, however. He’s another guy that gets you the tough yards and will grind it out late in the fourth quarter and won’t wear down. A willing pass blocker that won’t embarrass anyone in that aspect. The injury knocks him down a round or two. Another back with workload concerns as he put up 712 carries, the majority of which came within the last three years.

BA Grade: 7.41

Round Grade: Fourth Round - Fifth Round

7. Antonio Gibson 6’1 223 Memphis

- ATHLETE. Gibson is that in every sense of the word so much so that he was listed as a receiver at the Combine. Originally a receiver by trade at Memphis but he got some snaps at running back as well. Elite athleticism. That’s what gets him ranked so high on my board despite the limited reps at RB. A dude who can run a 4.39 40 at his size is moving. He’s a versatile athlete that can be used as a chess piece type of offensive weapon like a bigger Percy Harvin if you will. He will need some coaching if he sticks at the running back position, however, but the athleticism is there to be something special.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Fifth Round

8. Anthony McFarland 5’9 198 Maryland

- When I first watched McFarland, I immediately thought of the West Virginia version of Steve Slaton. He has the same qualities. The second name that popped in my head was Dexter McCluster. He can be an elite change of pace back and return man at the next level as a result. Admittedly, he won’t carry the load but can provide an enterprising offensive coordinator with a moveable weapon to play with. There’s also questions as to why he was unproductive last season.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Fifth Round

9. Eno Benjamin 5’9 207 Arizona State

- Benjamin was the second-best back in the Pac-12 behind Moss for the last couple of years. He did well at the Senior Bowl after being eligible as a degree-holding junior. He showed off a lot in the pass blocking drills. He isn’t the strongest guy out there with only 12 reps on the bench press but is a willing pass blocker when asked. The numbers dipped a bit in 2019 due to defenses loading the box with a true freshman QB but he picked it up late. 2018 was something good. That Eno showed up against Oregon (the best overall defense in the conference). I like his tape despite the Rob Likens “error” at ASU.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Fourth Round

10. Lamical Perine 5’11 211 Florida

- Perine is another guy that knows what he is and sticks to that role. There’s something to be said about doing that instead of trying to hit home runs every attempt. Singles and doubles with runners on base are just as effective as the big fly. He’s a bigger back so he can take the punishment if asked to do so. Not the best athlete but is serviceable enough. The 4.62 is a tiny bit concerning but when in the context of the film, it’s just ok. Strong as an ox and is very physical in all aspects. The bench press proves that. He also hasn’t proven that he could be the main man.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Fifth Round

11. Joshua Kelley 5’11 214 UCLA

- Kelley really stood out during the brief offseason after a so-so year in Westwood much like his Bruins teammates. He transferred in from local FCS UC Davis. He’s another physically strong runner that relishes those YAC. Not the quickest or fastest so he will have to work on that to stick at the next level. The 4.49 40 helps alleviate some speed concerns as well. He was one of the winners of Senior Bowl week. I have some questions as to why he struggled in year two of Chip Kelly’s system.

BA Grade: 6.22

Round Grade: Sixth Round

12. Ke’Shawn Vaughn 5’10 205 Vanderbilt

- See above about winning the offseason amidst a not so good season. Vaughn was the entirety of Vanderbilt’s offense at times throughout his career. Athleticism is just serviceable but the tape is pretty decent for a guy in his situation. He also compares athletically to Spencer Ware and Chris Thompson.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Early Sixth to Late Sixth

13. A.J. Dillon 6’0 247 Boston College

- The Golden Eagles’ hammer back. He’s a big 247 and ran a great 4.53 at the Combine. Boston College was a weird offensive mishmash last season when former QB Anthony Brown went out with injury. Dillon is a throwback to the old big dude days at the position. He could fit at the next level as a goal-line/short-yardage back instead of being the primary ball carrier. Functional athleticism is a nice way to put it. A bigger Jordan Howard or Andre Williams if you will. Major red flags about the workload with 845 carries in just three years.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Late Sixth to Seventh

14. Salvon Ahmed 5’11 197 Washington

- If you had money on which back would have the worst Combine and chose Ahmed, can you give the lottery numbers? Ahmed ran a terrifying slow 4.62 at his size when the tape shows him to be faster than that. I had him projected in the 4.5s at worst. I don’t like his tape all that much to begin with but there are flashes of something resembling a COP back there. He was injured a lot and didn’t take the reins of a feature back as many expected last season.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Seventh Round

15. Patrick Taylor, Jr 6’1 217 Memphis

- The “other” Memphis running back is a good prospect in his own right. He has a medical concern as he missed a ton of time last season with a foot injury. Taylor seems like he is very physical at the point of attack on every run of his runs. The 4.57 40 certainly isn’t the end all be all of speed but it’s slightly concerning at his size. He thrived in a Mike Norvell offense that featured its backs heavily through the years. The hammer to Gibson’s lightning so to speak. Maybe he can carve out a role as a change of pace goal-line back that can occasionally be the main guy for spurts.

BA Grade: N/A

Round Grade: Seventh Round

16. Sewo Olonilua 6’3 232 TCU

- Like many of the Horned Frogs before him, he had a mixed bag at the Combine. I don’t know what it is with TCU and Indianapolis. He’s a classic example of a bigger guy that wants to bounce everything to the outside but kinda isn’t good at it. He was really underrated coming into the 2019 season and something happened to the TCU offense. He did, however, increase his touchdowns while the yardage was down a shade in 2019. Not the best guy you’d want in lateral agility so there is that concern. He’s a pure north and south runner with some oomph. Vision is a plus to his game.

BA Grade: 7.55

Round Grade: Late Fifth - Early Sixth



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