Welcome to part two of my final position rankings. Today we focus on the running backs for the 2023 NFL draft. You can see my mid-season rankings here. I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. We will be going position by position. Let’s get going with the running backs.
This is a really deep group. 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. 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 play snaps as a receiver, he can block, he can do it all. Amazing vision and agility.
- 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. His pass blocking needs work. Gibbs has home run ability.
- Kendre Miller, TCU: Miller kind of came out of nowhere, having shared a backfield with Zach Evans in 2021. This year, he really showed he is one of the top backs in the class. The former Horned Frog has excellent vision and agility with solid speed. Miller has ideal RB size and improved as a receiver in 2022.
- Tyjae Spears, Tulane: Spears was in a similar situation to Miller in that he was sharing carries in 2021, so his potential was kind of hidden. He blew up in 2022 with over 1500 yards rushing and 19 TDs. Spears has reminded me a bit of Aaron Jones; he is quick, good speed, crazy vision, good hands, and really good contact balance for his size (5’10 201).
- Tank Bigsby, Auburn: Bigsby has good size at 6’0 210, with solid 4.56 speed. He has good vision and decent power for his size. The problem is he has not shown much growth since his freshman year. He has been an inconsistent pass protector and receiver. That said, he still has potential to be a good all-around back — if he can get in the right situation.
2023 NFL Draft Running Backs 6-10:
6. Roschon Johnson, Texas: Johnson came to Texas as a quarterback and transitioned to running back. Unfortunately for him, he was stuck behind the top running back in the class, but when he was able to get on the field he showed a lot of talent and upside as a running back. He has similar size to Robinson, but their running styles differ. Johnson is more of a power back. He also has a lack of wear and tear on his body going for him.
7. 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 over 1,500 yards in 2021 is a testament to how good he is. He has solid size at 5’9 and 207. His top-end speed is pretty average, sitting in the 4.5 range, but he accelerates quickly. He has also been a poor pass blocker and receiver in the past. However, he has shown improvements. There have been some questions on his vision.
8. Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh: Good size and speed at 5’11 216 and 4.5 speed. He had a breakout season in 2022, and showed flashes late in 2021. Abanikanda had that crazy 322 yard game with six touchdowns. He is a very good runner with great vision, and is very slippery. Development in the passing game has been stunted. Blocking has also been inconsistent, which happens with a lot of college backs.
9. Devon Achane, Texas A&M: Achane is speed, speed, and more speed. He was stuck behind CJ Spiller the last two seasons, but he was still able to play over 300 snaps last season. He is almost the complete opposite of Spiller. Small (5’9 188), quick, and fast. He has shown flashes as a receiver, but has not been consistent. 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.
10. Chase Brown, Illinois: The 5’10 210-pound speedster with 4.43 speed lit up the combine. Despite his size, he is actually pretty good in pass protection. He was very productive the past two seasons on a pretty weak Illinois offense. Brown still needs to find some consistency.