Several (potentially early) Day 2 running backs—Travis Etienne, Chuba Hubbard, Najee Harris, etc.—decided to return to school.
While it’s unlikely that we see a top-10 back in 2020, several running backs have the potential to hear their name called towards the end of the first round and I'd expect five or six backs to be off the board by end of Round 2.
Continuing my series of prospect rankings for the 2020 draft (check out my quarterback rankings), here are my draft-eligible running back prospect rankings:
1. D’Andre Swift, Georgia (JR, 5' 9", 215 pounds)
With a compact frame, low center of gravity and powerful lower body, Swift rushed for 1,000-plus yards in back-to-back seasons and departs Athens with a career 6.56 yards per carry average. A patient runner with exceptional lateral agility and balance, Swift has elite burst and short-area quickness. He has drawn comparisons to LeSean McCoy due to his shiftiness and elusiveness. With 73 catches for 666 yards and five touchdowns in his collegiate career, Swift is a reliable receiver with soft hands (only three drops over his career) and he is willing to compete in pass protection.
2. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (JR, 5'10", 217 pounds)
Ohio State's durable workhorse back eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of the past three seasons and bounced back from a somewhat disappointing sophomore campaign to break Eddie George's single-season school rushing record in 2019. With outstanding vision, patience and balance, Dobbins is a decisive and powerful runner. For a back with his size and power, Dobbins has quick feet and impressive lateral agility. A productive receiver, Dobbins has had at least 22 catches every year in Columbus.
3. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (JR, 5'11", 219 pounds)
The first running back in FBS history to reach 6,000 rushing yards after three seasons, Taylor had 3,921 yards after contact over the past three years, per PFF. Showing the toughness and durability to handle a workhorse role is double-edged sword, however, as some teams will be concerned with his nearly 1,000 collegiate touches. With a track background, Taylor has the size and power to break arm tackles and the breakaway speed to outrun pursuit angles. Ball security has been an issue and he doesn't have a lot of reps in pass protection. While he's had some drops, Taylor became more involved as a receiver as a junior (26 catches).
More NFL Draft:
* Prospect Rankings: Quarterbacks | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends
* Kevin Hanson's Mock Draft 3.0: Who Will Trade Up for Tua?
4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (JR, 5'8", 209 pounds)
Short, not small, Edwards-Helaine has a powerful compact frame and runs with a low center of gravity. Quicker than fast, Edwards-Helaire has the lateral agility to make would-be tacklers miss often in tight quarters. In LSU's undefeated 2019 season, CEH ran for 1,414 yards (6.6 YPC) with 55 catches for 453 yards and 17 total touchdowns. Especially excelling as a receiver, Edwards-Helaire runs crisp routes and has natural hands. Experienced and productive as a kick returner, CEH has the ability to contribute on all four downs.
5. Zack Moss, Utah (SR, 5'10", 222 pounds)
The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, Moss has eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards with double-digit touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. While he doesn’t have the long speed of the backs above him on this list, Moss is a punishing runner with outstanding contact balance and lateral agility for a 222-pound back, all of which leads to plenty of broken tackles. In fact, Moss forced more missed tackles (87) than any back in 2019, per PFF.
Here are the next 15 running backs:
6. Cam Akers, Florida State (JR, 5'11", 212 pounds)
7. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State (JR, 5'9", 195 pounds)
8. Anthony McFarland, Maryland (rSO, 5'9", 198 pounds)
9. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt (rSR, 5'10", 205 pounds)
10. Lamical Perine, Florida (SR, 5'11", 211 pounds)
11. Antonio Gibson, Memphis (SR, 6'1", 223 pounds)
12. A.J. Dillon, Boston College (JR, 6'0", 250 pounds)
13. Reggie Corbin, Illinois (rSR, 5'10", 200 pounds)
14. James Robinson, Illinois State (SR, 5'10", 220 pounds)
15. Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (rJR, 5'11, 200 pounds)
16. Joshua Kelly, UCLA (rSR, 5'11", 214 pounds)
17. Javon Leake, Maryland (JR, 6'0", 206 pounds)
18. Darius Anderson, TCU (SR, 5'11", 195 pounds)
19. Patrick Taylor, Memphis (SR, 6'3", 227 pounds)
20. DeeJay Dallas, Miami (FL) (JR, 5'10", 214 pounds)
Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2020 NFL Draft season. His NFL Mock Drafts have graded as the most accurate over the past five years, per The Huddle Report. His 2015 NFL mock draft graded as the most accurate and his 2019 NFL mock draft was the second-most accurate out of 101 draft analysts