RB5: Zach Charbonnet (UCLA)
Zach Charbonnet is the most well-rounded runner in the field. He is the prototypical size for a feature back and displays exceptional vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage. Charbonnet always runs hard and racks up broken tackles like a college kid racks up bar tabs.
He eclipsed 2,500 total rushing yards in two seasons as a starter for the Bruins. Furthermore, Charbonnet hauled in 60 passes in that same span, netting another 500+ yards through the air. Oh yeah, how can I forget the 27 touchdowns, too?
So, why in the world is Charbonnet RB5 instead of RB1? A few reasons. Firstly, he has a long track record of lower-body injuries, dating back to high school and his time with Michigan. The medical world has come a long way, and Charbonnet only missed a couple of games with the Bruins, so perhaps this is overblown.
Next, as good as Charbonnet is at everything, he isn’t the best in the class at any one thing. He encapsulates the “Jack of all trades, master of none” trope. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Getting a sure thing like Charbonnet is worth a day-two pick every time.
His production is everything you look for, and the steady play makes for an easy projection to the NFL. Charbonnet is a starting running back on Sundays, no doubt, but he just may never be the best at the position. He reminds me so much of Dameon Pierce, and I believe Charbonnet can have a similar impact in year one.
NFL Draft Grade: Mid Day 2
RB4: Tank Bigsby (Auburn)
Tank Bigsby fits many of the same things I said about Zach Charbonnet, but with a few key differences. First and foremost, Bigsby is a better athlete. He is shiftier, shows more breakaway speed, and runs through defenders like they made a “yo momma” joke.
Bigsby also dealt with the worst supporting cast in the entire SEC. His tape was tough to watch because Bigsby regularly got hit immediately after the handoff. But he did show me something on a handful of these plays. He is called Tank for a reason, after all.
Even with minimal help from the offensive line, Bigsby still created yards out of nothing. He uses underrated agility and his trademark strength to shake defenders and move the pile. Bigsby’s legs never stop moving, and he has a trait that most great running backs have — he knows how to fall forward.
As simple as that sounds, the best NFL bell cows know how to grab those extra couple of yards at the end of a run — so does Tank. His ability as a pass blocker is better than fans think, and he shows untapped potential on the passing-catching side of things.
Bigsby is not without his faults. Although he can block, consistency is lacking in this area. On one snap, Bigsby uses adequate technique to pick up a blitz. On the very next snap, he gets pushed back into his quarterback due to sloppy footwork and hand usage. NFL coaches will want more predictability on a snap-to-snap basis.
Still, with Bigsby’s blend of strength, athleticism, and tenacity, he has all the makings of a superstar in the league. If he lands somewhere with a decent offensive line and a head coach that commands consistency, expect Bigsby to be a leading rusher early in his career.
NFL Draft Grade: Mid Day 2