Boston College running back AJ Dillon is one of many intriguing backs in the 2020 NFL Draft. We’ll be taking a look at what Dillon could bring to an NFL team.
There could be some running backs selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Names like Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor could very well hear their names called on day one of the draft. But then there are prospects like AJ Dillon who may not have amazing traits across the board, yet they find ways to produce.
2019 Rushing: 318 carries, 1,685 yards, 13 touchdowns
2019 receiving: 13 receptions, 195 yards, 1 touchdown
Career Rushing: 845 carries, 4,382 yards, 38 touchdowns
Career Receiving: 21 receptions, 236 yards, 2 touchdowns
AJ Dillon has been a workhorse back for Boston College. As seen above he has carried the football 845 times in just three seasons at BC. He’s battled through some welts and bruises but overall has been very durable. Teams could be scared off by the amount of tread on the tires, but they shouldn’t read too much into that. He shouldn’t be viewed as a lead back, but he could be a steal in the later rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Games watched: 2019 vs Clemson, 2019 vs Notre Dame, 2019 vs Florida State, 2019 vs Syracuse
A.J. Dillon showed plus vision as a ball carrier. He finds a hole and doesn’t hesitate to charge through it. He does, however, lack patience when breaking outside of the tackles. This could limit him going forward at the next level.
Dillon does a great job navigating through traffic. He’s at his best between the tackles using all of his 250-pound frame to shrug off tackles. He’s a big bruising back that will make defenders second guess how they’ll tackle him. There were times when defenders wanted no part of tackling him.
For all of the benefits of being big and strong, there are negatives because of it. He’s not very agile especially when met head-on with a defender. He does have impressive quick feet, but the quickness isn’t at the level where he’ll make a guy miss. He’s all about making contact and running through people.
Dillon excels in short-yardage situations. If you need a yard or two for the first down there’s very little doubt he won’t get it. That goes for goal-line situations as well. Give him the ball three times and he’s bound to run one in.
Dillon has the size and strength to hang in there as a blocker, however, he did miss some blocks due to him not being in the best position or he was just late at times. His lack of speed will limit the number of touches he’ll get at the next level. We do see guys like Derrick Henry excelling despite not being the fastest, but he’s a long stride runner while Dillon is not.
Another thing that could limit Dillon is his essentially non-existent receiving ability. The one thing that A.J. Dillon has going for him that other backs in the 2020 NFL Draft do not is how physical of a runner he is. Watching him play it feels like he enjoys making contact with the defender. There were moments where he was literally pushing guys off of him. Defenders must make sure to wrap him up and try to hold on and pray that he goes down.
A.J Dillon is probably the most physical running back in the 2020 NFL Draft. That being said, he’ll likely be limited to short-yardage situations at the next level. If a team needs a first down on third and short or fourth and short expect him to be on the football field. Teams could sell out for the run if he doesn’t improve as a receiver. His lack of speed and quickness is concerning but won’t be detrimental to him being drafted.
I currently have a day three draft grade on him. If Dillon lands with a team who has a top offensive line and an established back he could make a contribution. He reminds me a lot of former running back Lamont Jordan. Both are very physical backs. Dillon could be what Jordan was for Curtis Martin when they were together in New York (Jets) if he lands somewhere with a top running back. I just do not see him as a lead back in the NFL.