Another NFL combine in the books, and another glorious take party on Twitter. Here is an updated list of RBs after some surprises and disappointments in Indianapolis. For the original list with further explanation of my process check out the pre-combine running back rankings.
|Rank||Movement||Name||School||Forty||HaSS||Projected Draft Round|
|RB2||JK Dobbins||Ohio State||n/a||n/a||1-2|
|RB4||Cam Akers||Florida State||4.47||109.6||2-3|
|RB6||+2||AJ Dillon||Boston College||4.53||118.3||3+|
|RB7||+3||Eno Benjamin||Arizona State||4.57||92.6||3+|
|RB9||-3||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||Louisiana State||4.6||87.1||3+|
|RB11||Darrynton Evans||Appalachian State||4.41||107.6||4+|
|RB15||NR||James Robinson||Illinois State||4.64||92.5||4+|
Tier 1 – Probable Studs
RB1 – Jonathan Taylor
RB2 – JK Dobbins
RB3 – D’Andre Swift
The top tier stayed the same, with all 3 RBs looking like the best this class has to offer. Taylor went HAM and might have solidified himself as the first RB taken in the NFL draft. I decided to keep Dobbins ahead of Swift despite a) Dobbins deciding not to run and b) Swift showing out nicely. While Swift tested even more athletic than some thought, I still prefer Dobbins and everything he brings to the table. I didn’t penalize Dobbins for not running because the top RB tier is secure, while there is so much good talent at WR that I think those non-runners will slip on NFL big boards.
Tier 2 – Exciting but I Have Questions
RB4 – Cam Akers
This stays a one-man show, as I still think there’s big chasm between Akers and the guys that follow. He confirmed his size and speed, but that was never in question.
Tier 3 – Convince Me
RB5 – Zack Moss
This west coast beast did enough at the showcase to hold on to my RB5 spot. He didn’t really impress anywhere but he passed the HaSS threshold I look for and his game was never about breakaway speed anyway. I think of Moss the same way I did pre-combine, as a solid if unspectacular RB who could earn a feature role due to his reliability and pass-catching skills. That would be valuable on a fantasy roster in the 2nd round of a rookie draft.
RB6 – AJ Dillon
Now we have some movement! Dillon might have had the single most impressive forty of any RB, trucking down the line in 4.53 seconds after weighing in at 247 pounds. That time gives him a monster HaSS of 118 and if nothing else puts him on some teams’ radars looking for the next Derrick Henry. His big move comes as a result of my anticipation he could be a 3rd round pick now, instead of a day 3 sleeper. He’s going to be landing spot dependent but let’s just say he goes to the Seahawks at pick 103, I would want him on my dynasty rosters.
RB7 – Eno Benjamin
Benjamin was another riser for me, and I’m now including him in this interesting tier. Despite a good career at Arizona State, the main barriers to a day 2 pick for him were size and speed concerns. He came in at a healthy 207 pounds then proceeded to run a 4.57 time which isn’t elite but it gets the minimum boxes checked. Given his penchant for catching the ball out of the backfield, Benjamin’s chances of being a 3rd round pick went up after the combine.
Tier 4 – Draft Capital Concerns
RB8 – Ke’Shawn Vaughn
He is who we thought he was, and I don’t mean that in a negative way.
RB9 – Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Many people won’t like this but CEH ends up being my biggest faller after the combine. It’s not just the 4.6 forty but he also came in at almost an inch shorter than advertised. Despite his junior year film, the track record for 5’7 RBs as fantasy assets may begin and end with Jacksonville legend Maurice Jones-Drew (he apparently dropped the Jones). The anticipation was that he would maybe get down into the 4.4s and secure prime draft slot. As it stands, he really meets no marks for me. The final blow is that I don’t see teams spending a day 2 pick on CEH, thus making it a steep climb to fantasy relevance.
Tier 5 – End of the Roster Darts
RB10 – Joshua Kelley
RB11 – Darrynton Evans
I thought Kelley and Evans both had very nice combines, showing more speed than many expected. I think in the right situation either back could settle into a feature-ish role, so they are worth a stab late in rookie drafts. I doubt they will be taken ahead of day 3 though, so they remain interesting but in tier 5.
RB12 – Antonio Gibson
RB13 – Anthony McFarland
These guys are two of the more intriguing talents at the RB position. Impressing with good size and great speed, neither had college carers that project NFL success. Gibson has a ridiculous HaSS of 129, but may not have a position right away on an NFL team given he tried out as a WR but many think he’s best as a RB. I endorse him as a late rookie pick but don’t expect much early in his career. McFarland looked great as a redshirt freshman but then took a step back the next season. Given the athletic testing, their theoretical upside moves them both up a spot, but I’d have to see someone secure appropriate draft capital to make a big jump.
RB14 – La’Mical Perine
He drops because Gibson and McFarland look more interesting, but my opinion on Perine didn’t really change.
RB15 – James Robinson
Potentially an oversight on the first list, Robinson is a small school stud who put up a fantastic senior season. In 2019 he was a durable workhorse, touching the ball 380 times for over 1900 yards and 18 scores. He tested well enough, showing some athleticism to back up his production. He would be a fantasy long shot even if he lands in a favorable backfield, but that’s what you get at rookie RB15.
Michael Warren II
He already had major “athlete” question marks for me, with uninspiring efficiency during his college career. Not participating in any of the drills just makes him fade into the background.
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