Editor's Note: These rankings were originally published before the combine. We will be updating our position rankings throughout draft season.
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-15 back in 2020, several running backs have the potential to hear their names called towards the end of the first round. I expect the first five backs to be off the board by end of Round 2.
Here are my updated draft-eligible running back prospect rankings:
1. D’Andre Swift, Georgia (JR, 5'8", 212 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 and 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 is willing to compete in pass protection.
2. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (JR, 5'10", 226 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. Running a 4.39, 40 at 226 pounds, 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).
3. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (JR, 5'10", 209 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.
4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (JR, 5'7", 207 pounds)
Short, not small, Edwards-Helaire 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. Cam Akers, Florida State (JR, 5'10", 217 pounds)
The top-ranked running back prospect coming out of high school, Akers joined Warrick Dunn and Dalvin Cook to become the third back in school history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Running behind a shaky offensive line, Akers averaged 3.9 yards after contact, per PFF. Not only did Akers perform well in on-field drills at the combine, but he ran a 4.47, 40 at 217 pounds.
Here are the next 15 running backs:
6. Zack Moss, Utah (SR, 5'9", 223 pounds)
7. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State (JR, 5'9", 207 pounds)
8. Anthony McFarland, Maryland (rSO, 5'8", 208 pounds)
9. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt (rSR, 5'10", 214 pounds)
10. Lamical Perine, Florida (SR, 5'11", 216 pounds)
11. Antonio Gibson, Memphis (SR, 6'0", 228 pounds)
12. A.J. Dillon, Boston College (JR, 6'0", 247 pounds)
13. Joshua Kelly, UCLA (rSR, 5'11", 212 pounds)
14. Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (rJR, 5'10", 203 pounds)
15. Reggie Corbin, Illinois (rSR, 5'10", 200 pounds)
16. Javon Leake, Maryland (JR, 6'0", 215 pounds)
17. James Robinson, Illinois State (SR, 5'9", 219 pounds)
18. DeeJay Dallas, Miami (FL) (JR, 5'10", 217 pounds)
19. Patrick Taylor, Memphis (SR, 6'2", 217 pounds)
20. Darius Anderson, TCU (SR, 5'11", 208 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