2020 NFL Draft running back rankings and analysis-Swift not RB1?

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2020 NFL Draft

CINCINNATI, OH – OCTOBER 04: Michael Warren II #3 of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs with the ball during the game against the Central Florida Knights at Nippert Stadium on October 4, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Central Florida 27-24. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The next group of 2020 NFL Draft running back prospects are players that I think could develop into starting caliber, main/feature backs for their respective teams. Now I’m not saying that I expect that right away or even that being that player would be best for them. I have just identified these guys as tier two running backs who show enough qualities to be a well-rounded, future three-down back at the next level.

6. A.J. Dillon, Boston College

A.J. Dillon is an absolute bruiser of a runner. He is nearly impossible to bring down with just one tackler, exhibiting incredible contact balance and power throughout his body.

He is patient at the line of scrimmage and between the tackles, running his feet until he finds a whole and churning his legs to fight for every yard. When he gets out in space he could do a better job of allowing his blockers to pave the way, but he does have the speed and explosiveness to be effective out there as well (4.53 40-yard dash time). He began to be more involved as a receiver this past year, opening the door for him to develop into a three-down feature back.

Right now Dillon can contribute as an early down and short yardage back with the physical tools and potential to develop into one of the most dominant backs in the league. His heavy workload at BC worries some evaluators, but he did come out as a junior and a shared role early in his career could help prolong his career.

7. Cam Akers, Florida State

Cam Akers was very productive this season at Florida State despite running behind one of the worst offensive lines in recent major college football history.

Akers is a speedy runner with good burst and balance through the hole. He accelerates in the open field and has home run finishing speed. He is decent as a receiver and as a pass blocker, allowing him to play on all three downs. He even has some experience as a passer and wildcat quarterback.

Akers is a smooth runner with quick and effective cuts. I don’t see quite the upside in him that I do with some of the other top backs in the 2020 NFL Draft but he could contribute in a complementary role early in his NFL career and could develop into a feature back.

8. Michael Warren II, Cincinnati

Here is a sleeper for you, with a name you might not even know as a top 10 running back in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Michael Warren II has an impressive blend of power and contact balance as a compact back and a decent amount of burst and open field speed and production as a receiver. At times, Warren can get a little cute behind the line of scrimmage and needs to be a consistent downhill runner.

Overall, I think Warren is a very complete back with starting potential in the NFL. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in power and grit, and his ability on third down allows him to be a possible three down back at some point in his NFL career.

9. James Robinson, Illinois State

James Robinson has great feel with the ball in his hands. He’s not overly athletic or a super powerful runner, but he always knows where to go and the best way to avoid a tackle.

Arm tackles are not effective. He is patient at the line of scrimmage and can turn it on once he finds a hole. He does have good size and strength for an NFL running back and drives through defenders.

While he could stand to run downhill a little more, often moving laterally and trying to do a little too much, he does break a lot big plays. He is solid in pass protection and a decent pass catcher, although not utilized all that often as a receiver.

I really like Robinson’s upside as a potential starting running back in the NFL. He may not have a sky-high ceiling due to some athletic limitations, but Robinson could surprise as a late round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

10. Darius Anderson, TCU

Darius Anderson displays great burst and impressive high end speed. He is effective in the pass game as a receiver and a blocker and is not afraid to lower his shoulder with the ball in his hands.

He has a tendency to bounce the ball outside, but uses his blockers when he does and has the athleticism and speed to make it work. His 40 time was disappointing, but his play speed is very evident on tape.

Anderson’s explosion is very intriguing and he should at least be able to be a situational player right away, also with the ability to return kicks. If he can take some time and learn the offense and develop more patience and vision as a runner, I like Anderson’s potential to become a surprise high end NFL running back out of the 2020 NFL Draft.

11. Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State

Darrynton Evans is a real speed back. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Draft Scouting Combine and that speed shows up on tape.

He is very elusive in the open field, often making defenders miss in one-on-one breakdowns with simple, shifty cuts. He has patience at the line of scrimmage with great vision and jump cuts to find a hole. If he finds a hole he has the burst and speed to take it all the way.

He isn’t all that effective between the tackles if a hole doesn’t open up and is better on outside zones and stretches when he can get out in space and cut up the field. In 2019 he really started to be utilized as a receiver with great success and will likely continue to grow at the next level.

Evans may be drafted initially as a change-of-pace, speed, third down back, but certainly as the potential to be a feature back in the NFL.

12, LeVante Bellamy, Western Michigan

LeVante Bellamy is a very quick and explosive back with incredible production in 2019 (23 touchdowns and nearly 1,500 yards). He has good vision and quick jump cuts to find a hole and accelerates in a flash and is off to the races (4.50 40).

Bellamy is a good blocker and a serviceable receiver out of the backfield. He is not a runner that is going to be running people over and shrugging off multiple would-be tackles, but he has great feet to avoid ankle tackles and if he can battle through arm tackles to open space he checks out.

Bellamy could excel in a zone run scheme, allowing him to move laterally and then burst through an open hole. If Bellamy can bulk up a bit without losing his speed and elusiveness and can run a little stronger between the tackles, I like his potential as a future starter in the NFL.

13. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State

Eno Benjamin isn’t a flashy runner, but he has good contact balance and is shifty enough in the open field with simple cuts to be a very productive runner. He could be more patient at the line of scrimmage but once he hits the whole he has good burst.

He has a nose for the end zone and is a very powerful runner, especially for his size. He doesn’t have high end speed and isn’t a home run threat but is a ferocious blocker and a very solid receiver. He could contribute right away in a third down back role and could develop into a feature back in the NFL.

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