The_Coach: Cam Akers (Florida State)
Despite a disastrous season for Florida State as a team, running back Cam Akers was a continuously productive weapon for the Seminoles in a disjointed offense and behind a less than stellar offensive line. A balanced runner who can stay behind his pads, the early entry junior tallied 1,144 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019 on 231 carries, while also catching 30 passes for 4 scores as well. Walter Football rates Akers out as the sixth best back in the 2020 haul behind Ohio State’s JK Dobbins, in what is a really strong running back group overall in terms of top-end talent and depth. A former five-star recruit, Akers has been highly touted since his high school days and has done nothing but produce at every level he’s been given the chance to perform at. I see Akers as a guy who can assimilate well to the pro workload.
Ross Parker: Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)
Listen, there’s no need to overthink Jonathan Taylor. Sometimes people can break down a prospect and over-evaluate a dude. Just look at Taylor’s film and you see a perennial 2,000 yard rusher in college and one of the most prolific offensive players in college football history. Taylor is the definition of a bell cow back and is a plug and play starter in basically any offense. He is a freak athlete that fit perfectly in Wisconsin’s downhill style of offense, and should continue to shoulder the load for whatever NFL team he is selected by. Only real notable concerns are the amount of carries he received in college (over 900 carries in his career) and fumbling, though the latter can be attributed to trying to do too much and push for the extra yards. A zone running is probably the least ideal scheme fit, but Taylor can still make it work. Taylor is a baller and should fit well anywhere in the NFL. Don’t overthink this dude.
Hayden Tharp: A.J. Dillon (Boston College)
I won’t lie, I think J.K. Dobbins was the most exciting running back to watch last year in college football; But I’m also an old school guy who likes dive plays in between the tackles — and there was no better running back at that in college football last season, than A.J. Dillon.
Dillon is a tank, coming in at 6-0, 250 pounds. With that said, speed is not his specialty (although he did run a very decent 4.53 at the combine), but you don’t need speed when your greatest strength is running over people. Dillon is a very physical runner with good vision. He has the tools to get you a first down in short yardage situations, but can also make quick cuts at the line to bust a fast 20 yarder. I think speed at running back is not something that is necessarily a must have at the NFL level, while it certainly is a plus to have a NFL running back be able to run a 4.4 forty, the biggest quality a running back can have in the NFL... is durability.
Dillon ran the ball 845(!) times in his three years at BC, so I think it’s safe to say he’s used to taking a beating. Last season, he ran 318 times, for 1,685 yards and 14 touchdowns. Going into last season, there were questions about Dillon’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and while he did achieve a career high for catches in a season last year, it only amounted to 13 receptions. He did however, make the most out of those 13 catches, going for 195 yards (15.0 avg.) and a touchdown.
Ultimately, Dillon is not the most exciting running back in this years draft, but I do think he’s a great middle round option for a team looking for someone who can run the ball on every down and possibly be a goal line specialist.
John Severs: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Vanderbilt)
When it comes to running backs, I’m all about finding value in the mid to late rounds, and I think Vaughn is an excellent grab. He has great speed and the ability to generate a lot of yardage after contact. He’s not a big play back, and is not likely to be a team’s premiere rusher, but I think he has all the tools he needs to be a valuable contributor in the league, and for where he’s looking to get picked he should be a steal.
Want more of our favorite players in the upcoming NFL Draft? Check out our previous position groups below: