2023 NFL Draft: Overvalued Running Backs Prospects
This is a much better running back draft class than last year. In 2022, we didn’t see a running back go until the 36th pick, but we should see at least one go in the first round, possibly more. There are a few that I believe can be starters very early on, but I see others that I feel are being over-evaluated.
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2023 NFL Draft Prospects: Overvalued Running Backs
Devon Achane (Texas A&M)
They’re a lot of good things to like about Achane. He is an insanely freakish athlete – long strides, light feet, and he quickly gets to his top speed.
Some of the things he needs to improve are that he depends too much on his speed. His first instinct is to run to the outside and get around the defender. He can quickly cut, and if he finds the lanes through the line of scrimmage, he could have more positive plays.
He doesn’t have much value other than on running plays. He began to be used in the passing game, but he had trouble using his quickness after the catch and only had 5.4 yards per catch this year.
What I’ve noticed is that he is a well below-average blocker. He provides little protection and has trouble picking up blitzes.
If I had to use a comparison, it would be a smaller Tony Pollard. That could be a great ceiling, especially considering the value Pollard now provides, but even at 6’0″ and 210 pounds, he isn’t a feature back.
At 5’9″ and 185, a team looking for a three-down back should pass on Achane, especially with the late second/early third-round prediction he’s getting.
Tank Bigsby (Auburn)
Tank Bigsby sounds like the name of someone who should be playing football.
The name suits him because he plays like a tank. He is a great north-to-south runner who keeps his legs moving and fights for the extra yards. I really love his ability to be patient in the backfield, let a play develop, and use his vision to find gaps.
He’s good at what he does, but the problem is he doesn’t have many tricks up his sleeve.
While he’s a guy that can go for big yardage when he gets those gaps, you won’t see him often turn a broken-down play into a positive one. Trying to get the big hit on Bigsby will not work, but if you attack him low, he can’t shed those tackles because he tends to run upright.
As I mentioned, he has excellent vision but sometimes waits too long. He has the size to burst through the line into the secondary and needs to trust it.
The biggest problem that concerns me is that he’s limited in the passing game. He can work with the screen play but is a below-average route runner.
I would draw his comparison to Nick Chubb-the same type of runner and close in size. Chubb entered the draft at 227 pounds, while Bigsby is listed at 210. He will need more size if he’ll be a between-the-tackles runner at the next level.
Tyjae Spears (Tulane)
Spears is an incredible athlete. He’s quick, has excellent footwork, and his acceleration in the open field is dynamic. One of the better route runners in this running back class, he has that tremendous first burst that creates separation.
He’s another undersized running back I feel will have trouble adjusting to the league. If he gets through the line of scrimmage untouched, he can hit that home run play, but he can be taken down after first contact.
That has to do with his upright running style. For someone of his frame, getting lower to the ground would help him become harder to wrap up, and he could fight for some extra yards.
For him being a player you want in passing situations, the big concern is that his pass blocking needs a lot of work. He does not pick up blitzes well and usually goes for the cut blocks, immediately taking him out of the play.
A great comparison to Spears is Kareem Hunt. Another guy coming from a smaller program who has speed, quick cuts, and a great pass catcher. Hunt came out of Toldeo with a bigger frame and was a much better runner between the tackles who could use his lower body strength to fight for the extra yards.
If Spears could improve his pass blocking and add weight, he could become a quality player.
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