Welcome to part two of my position rankings. Today we focus on the running backs for the 2023 NFL draft. I will do this initial list and a final one after the season. I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. We will be going position by position.
Let’s get going with the second group, which is expected to be a really good one. We could see two taken in the first round, and a bunch taken on Day 2. After #2, I feel like any of the other top 10 guys could be slotted between 3 – 10. Be sure to check out my previous part, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.
2023 NFL Draft Running Backs: Top 5
- Bijan Robinson, Texas: He has been the presumed #1 running back of the 2023 NFL draft class since at least two years ago. He has done nothing in his time to change that. He has continually improved year in and year out. He has everything you want in a featured running back. He can even be lined up like a receiver. Elite vision.
- Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama: Any other year and Gibbs is the #1 back in the class. Similar to Robinson in that he can contribute in all facets, just in a smaller package. Fast, explosive, quick, and can run routes. He could improve as a pass protector.
- Blake Corum, Michigan: While he is on the smaller side at just 5’8 200, he doesn’t play like it. He has plenty of power in his lower body. He’s fast and cat quick. Also, despite his size he is a very good receiver out of the backfield. His size can, however, be a hinderance in pass protection.
- Zach Evans, Mississippi: Evans has all the potential in the world. He just has yet to play up to it due to different issues. Injuries, not being able to get on the field, etc. When he has been out there he has ideal size at 6’0 215 and sub 4.5 speed. He has yet to show much development as a receiver. He also could play with more power. If he has a big second half, he could supplant Corum. On the other hand, his messy recruitment could also raise red flags with certain teams.
- Tank Bigsby, Auburn: Bigsby has good size at 6’0 213, with solid 4.5 speed. He has good vision and decent power. The problem is he has not shown any growth since his freshman year. He has been a poor pass protector and receiver. That said, he still has potential to be a good all-around back.
2023 NFL Draft Running Backs 6-10:
- Sean Tucker. Syracuse: Tucker is a good back on a team with not a lot of talent. The fact that he was able to rush for almost 1,500 yards in 2021 is a testament to how good he is. He has solid size at 5’10 and 209. His top end speed is pretty average sitting in the 4.55 range. He has also been a poor pass blocker and receiver in the past. However, he has shown improvement in both early on.
- Kenny McIntosh, Georgia: Due to the massive amount of running back depth at Georgia, he had barely played until 2021, and even then played fewer than 200 snaps. He has ideal size for today’s NFL: 6’0 207. He has solid 4.5 range speed. As a receiver is where he has really separated himself from the other backs in the class. While not an elite runner, he is solid and he is already a solid pass blocker.
- Devon Achane, Texas A&M: Stuck behind CJ Spiller the last two seasons, he was still able to play over 300 snaps last season. He is almost the complete opposite of Spiller. Small (5’9 185), quick, and fast. He has shown flashes as a receiver, but has not been consistent with it. He will need to add another 10 pounds or more to handle the riggers of the NFL. His blocking is not good right now, and will need work as well.
- Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh: Good size and speed at 5’11 215 and 4.5 range. He is having a breakout in 2022. He showed flashes late in 2021. Had that crazy 320 yard game. He is a very good runner with great vision. Development in the passing game has been stunted. Blocking has also been inconsistent, which happens with a lot of college backs. Could move up more if he shows more development.
- Zach Charbonnet, UCLA: Ideal size at 6’1 220 with 4.45 speed. But, while improved, his production in the passing game and as a blocker have not been good enough. Runs with power. Has a little bit of a stiff lower body which will hurt his ability to avoid hits. He would be good in a “thunder-and-lightning” backfield.