RB3: Tyjae Spears (Tulane)
I doubt you’ve seen Tyjae Spears in the top three of most running back rankings out there. That is okay… I will lead the way for the Spears bandwagon!
Spears first gained attention as a complimentary piece in the Tulane offense. In 2022, he was given the reins of the backfield and put together one of the best seasons in school history.
Spears toted the rock 231 times on the ground for 1,586 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading the Green Wave to a program-altering victory vs. USC in the Cotton Bowl. Spears ended his collegiate career on an eight-game streak of 100+ yards, with more than a handful of plays that brought my jaw to the floor.
He is arguably the most elusive back in the class, as his tape is littered with dozens and dozens of broken tackles. Spears made defenders look silly with his ability to cut on a dime and then instantly re-accelerate to top speed. Few on the planet have this type of burst.
Furthermore, Spears excels as a runner between the tackles. Even without an ideal frame, he knows when to lower his shoulder to barrel through contact. His vision is superb, and his high football IQ jumps off the screen when Spears surveys from the backfield.
The best part of Spears’ game is his patience. There are times when Spears’ momentum comes to a complete stop as he assesses which way to go. It reminds me of the old Madden games when you had one slow-mo play per game — Spears has an unlimited amount at his disposal.
He is not a perfect prospect, however. Spears is lean, and this presents a risk as an every-down back. His frame will allow for added pounds, but he will need some time to bulk up.
Also, Spears is more than capable as a pass catcher, but the volume isn’t there for a guy with the traits he has. This lack of usage is primarily due to pass blocking, or lack thereof. Spears quelled these concerns a bit by showing up to the Senior Bowl and stonewalling several pass rushers in drills.
He doesn’t come without risk, but Tyjae Spears’ upside is worth an early day-two selection. He has true franchise running back potential, and fantasy football will make him a household name as a rookie. The ascension has just begun for the Tulane superstar.
NFL Draft Grade: Early Day 2