NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: Running Back prospect superlatives

Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs during the second half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

  • Best contact balance: TexasBijan Robinson doesn’t just have the best contact balance in the class, but the best we’ve ever graded in college.
  • Well-rounded: UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet is the only back to take home multiple superlatives.
  • Excellent class: This year’s superlatives were hotly contested in one of the best running back class we’ve charted.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In such a deep running back class, there’s no shame in not seeing a player’s name highlighted below. You better believe, though, that if a running back did crack through to be recognized as the cream of the crop in a particular aspect of the position, they’re pretty darn elite in that regard.

Best Home-Run Speed: Devon Achane, Texas A&M

4.32. Even that number that Achane put up in the 40-yard dash doesn’t quite do his speed justice given how it affects opposing safeties trying to judge their angles in the open field. Adding to his effectiveness is how easily he can change directions while running at nearly full speed. He's going to be an exciting weapon for a creative offensive coordinator at the next level.

Most Untouchable: Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

Vaughn is one of the most agile running back prospects you’ll ever see. It’s not surprising considering he has the lowest center of gravity that you’ll ever see on a running back at 5-foot-5. While he technically only “broke” 132 tackles on 646 carries over his career, there were numerous other times he made defenders miss so badly it couldn’t even register as a tackle attempt.

Best Contact Balance: Bijan Robinson, Texas

Robinson broke the PFF college single-season record for broken tackles with 104 in 2022, which came a year after he finished third in the FBS with 79 broken tackles in only 10 games as a sophomore. If you’re looking for reasons why Robinson is considered such a special prospect, start here.

Best Vision: Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

Charbonnet, as well as the man above him on this list, have pretty darn good vision that’s very projectable to the next level. You see Charbonnet operate routinely in tight quarters and look unfazed, which is why he has one of the most NFL-translateable skillsets in the class.

Best Short-Yardage Back: Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

This goes hand-in-hand with the superlative above to a degree. Charbonnet converted 78.4% of his carries with three yards or less to go the past two seasons while recording the fourth-most conversions in college football over that span (69). He’s a physical runner at nearly 220 pounds who can also make guys miss. That’s the perfect blend you want in a short-yardage back.

Best Receiver: Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

This is where Gibbs really shines, which is why he’s RB2 on pretty much every public-facing draft board you can find. For his career, Gibbs has hauled in 103 passes for 1,215 yards and eight scores, and he did it all while letting only two passes slip through his hands his entire career. He’s one of the best pure receiving backs of the PFF era

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