2023 NFL Draft Running Back Superlatives

Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff

2023 NFL Draft Running Back Superlatives


2023 NFL Draft Running Back Superlatives


Most Elusive: Bijan Robinson

He could have won almost all these superlatives, but Robinson’s shiftiness stands out above the rest of the class. His ability to bounce outside on runs and evade tacklers is truly elite. He forced a 39% missed tackle rate, the highest since Javonte Williams, and many of those were from his agility. He had the highest elusiveness rating from PFF in the class, which measures running back’s ability to continue a play past their blocking. He is the complete package as a runner, and although elusiveness is not his defining trait, it is still at the top of the class. Honorable Mention: Deuce Vaughn

Best Breakaway Speed: Devon Achane 

The most obvious superlative has to be Achane, who has borderline Olympic track speed. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine with a 4.32. That speed translates onto the field. Achane averaged over six yards per carry throughout his career at Texas A&M, largely due to his breakaway percentage of 42.8% of runs being over 15 yards. He can shift gears as a runner and blow past defenders. He is patient in the backfield before hitting open gaps and is impossible to outrun. Honorable Mention: Israel Abanikanda

Most Powerful: Zach Charbonnet

Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff

The best way to describe Charbonnet is as a battering ram. He is 6’0, 214 pounds runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. He excels at converting speed to power. That allows him to produce at a high level towards the goal line, rushing for 39 touchdowns in his collegiate career. Charbonnet has what NFL teams are looking for in a three-down runner, and is physically ready for a high workload when he enters the league. Honorable Mention: Tavion Thomas

Best Receiver: Jahmyr Gibbs

As a receiver, Jahmyr Gibbs does it all. He is a natural route runner, is electric catching out of the backfield, and is shifty after the catch. He was a go-to target for Bryce Young this past season catching 44 passes for 444 yards. His fluidity in the receiving game will allow him to find the field and make an impact immediately as a rookie. His ability with the ball in his hands is a step above anyone in the class not named Bijan Robinson and makes him a high-end prospect. Honorable Mention: Evan Hull

Best Gap Runner: Tyjae Spears

Spears worked in a pretty even running scheme split at Tulane but has elite advanced metrics in gap/power. He averaged 4.85 rushing yards over expected on gap runs, the best in this class by over two yards. He can find the smallest gap openings and use his agility to break past defenders for big plays. Spears will have success regardless of his scheme in the NFL, but no running back in the class had more success in gap in 2022. Honorable Mention: Tank Bigsby

Best Zone Runner: Keaton Mitchell

One of the most underrated backs in the draft is Mitchell. He is smaller than most NFL running backs but makes up for it with his aggressive running style. He is electric running on the outside of tackles, and once he picks up speed he is difficult to bring down. He averaged over 2 yards over expected when running outside zone at East Carolina. He was incredibly productive over the past two seasons, rushing for 2584 yards and 23 touchdowns. Mitchell can immediately slot into an outside zone running team and add juice to the run game. Honorable Mention: DeWayne McBride

Best Pass Protector: Roschon Johnson

Few prospects have as clear projections for an NFL role as Johnson. He has served as the number two rusher in Texas’s backfield behind Bijan Robinson. He served as a change of pace back, coming in on third downs as an excellent pass protector or working as a short-yardage runner. At 6’0 and 220 pounds, he has the size to be a high-end blocker. He does not shy away from blitzes and is more experienced and comfortable than any other running back in the draft. Honorable Mention: Kenny McIntosh


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