2020 Draft: Top-5 Running Backs (Pre-Combine)

Raiders’ top needs are ranked here. These are obviously subject to change with the Combine still to take place (athletic testing matters, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (Junior): What more needs to be said about Taylor? How about this: If he’s not your RB1, you’re likely overthinking things and need to reevaluate your “process”. Obvious athlete with special production, limited-to-no injury history, a true workhorse, and a capable pass-catcher. Next.

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

Taylor finished with 16-135-2 on the ground and 2-48-2 through the air. He had all of 8 receptions in 2018. We’re already talking special, but if he gets more involved as a receiver and cleans up the fumbles? Sheesh. https://t.co/LwZyM39yrz

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (Junior): At one point, I was embarrassingly low on Dobbins. I made a claim that he was floating around the RB5- or RB6-range. I didn’t see “it”. I wasn’t giving him the respect or attention he deserved. Then the Michigan game happened on November 30th of last year, and I immediately went back to the drawing board. Similar to Taylor, he’s going to test very well. To a lesser degree than Taylor, the production was strong. He’s smaller, but has proven he can carry the load. I see a three-down producer on Sunday’s.

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

This J.K. Dobbins run doesn’t even make sense to me. Defender literally hanging on him, and still has the ability to make another one miss while staying on his feet. https://t.co/n8HpUyrljc

D’Andre Swift, Georgia (Junior): I think there’s a good chance that Swift ends up closer to the RB4 or RB5, versus the overall RB1. Obviously that’s not an indictment on Swift but rather, just how talented the top of this class is. Swift’s floor is super-safe given his ability as a pass-catcher, and he’s an intriguing prospect in general given his history of denting the workloads of various productive backs during his time at Georgia. High-floor, lower-ceiling player, perhaps — but still a good one at that.

Cam Akers, Florida State (Junior): His team stunk, notably up front along the offensive line, and Akers was still relied on heavily — and produced! Early freshman production is always notable (over 1000 yards on the ground and 7 scores, logging 16 receptions); he’s a capable pass-catcher and a player that should test well at the Combine. He provides a similar floor to Swift, but should offer a higher ceiling.

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

Akers’ situation was cheeks – FSU’s offensive line rankings per @fboutsiders (2017-2019): 35 > 130 > 115 – Still did #numbers – 69 career receptions – Combine should be notable – I’m back onboard, guys https://t.co/5utEEp3hG6

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Louisiana State (Junior): Is there a running back that is hotter right now on the timeline? I swear, you scroll long enough and you’ll stumble on some legit RB1-talk. His 2019 campaign was fantastic, of course, riding the Joey Burrow wave and arguably the most impressive college offense we’ve ever seen. 55 receptions is silly, but the way he moves his feet and creates is, truly, next-level stuff. Much like Akers, I could see his stock staying hot and only rising post-Combine (ran 4.47 with a 39-inch vertical out of high school).

While running back is a need for the Raiders, the team does not currently own a second-round selection (not that they should consider one that early, even if they did). As such, I wanted to open this list up, and throw out some names that I think could be available later on in the draft (third-round and on), and names that I think “fit” what the wise minds of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock might be looking for as a compliment to do-it-all runner Josh Jacobs (please note, the names listed below are in no particular order):

Zach Moss (Utah), Antonio Gibson (Memphis), Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Vanderbilt), Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State), Lamical Perine (Florida), Sewo Olonilua (Texas Christian), A.J. Dillon (Boston College), and Michael Warren II (Cincinnati).

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


1 thought on “2020 Draft: Top-5 Running Backs (Pre-Combine)

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