Ranking D'Andre Swift and Rookie Running Backs Entering 2020
There was quite a bit of talent at the running back position in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
As it just so happens, the Lions decided to select one of them in the second round this year. So, naturally, let the comparisons begin.
This list is not meant to be a long-term evaluation, but rather a list based on the immediate impact each back could have this upcoming season.
1.) Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs
In a somewhat surprising move, the Chiefs selected Edwards-Helaire with the last pick of the first round. He is a natural fit in Andy Reid’s offense as a Brian Westbrook-type. Edwards-Helaire may not look like much, but once the pads come on, he can play all over the field and well above his listed size. He is very difficult to bring down on first contact. Damien Williams is the current incumbent No. 1 back, and shouldn’t be too much of a roadblock for Edwards-Helaire to see plenty of playing time in all facets of the game.
2.) Jonathan Taylor - Indianapolis Colts
Taylor is going to do some really nice things with his size and speed behind one of the better lines in the NFL. Yes, he will be in a bit of a timeshare with Marlon Mack on early downs and to a lesser extent, Nyheim Hines on passing downs. Taylor is really only a two-down player, but likely is the best pure workhorse from a pure rushing standpoint in the draft.
3.) Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams
As a result of the Rams releasing Todd Gurley this offseason, the running back position is up for grabs. Akers may have the second-highest upside in year one of any of the backs and solely due to the fact that he could potentially see a high number of snaps. However, he will need to fend off Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson -- which shouldn’t be too terribly difficult. Akers wasn’t afforded the luxury of playing behind even an average O-line at Florida State. Give him some holes to run through, and he can do some real damage with his athletic profile and size.
4.) D'Andre Swift – Detroit Lions
Swift was one of the more explosive and shifty running backs in the entire draft. Also, he was one of the few that actually excelled in both the run game and catching the ball. It remains to be seen how he will be utilized with Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough, but Swift should be the main receiving back as well as receive plenty of carries. It will likely be a running back-by-committee situation that limits his rookie-year upside. Who knows, with the frequency that both Johnson and Scarbrough have been injured in the past, Swift may see more time than anticipated.
5.) JK Dobbins – Baltimore Ravens
Dobbins, unfortunately, falls into a backup role almost immediately behind Mark Ingram. It’s possible that age catches up with Ingram and Dobbins see more playing time than expected. With how much the Ravens run the ball, even with Dobbins as the second fiddle, he could put up better numbers than other backs that see the field more often. As far as skill set goes, Dobbins will be the Ravens' running back of the future in their high-powered rushing attack.
6.) Ke'Shawn Vaughn - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a shallow running back depth chart, the Buccaneers may have to rely on Vaughn to carry a big workload. Ronald Jones has shown flashes on occasions, but has been a big disappointment overall. Tampa’s offensive line is also a work in progress that can make a running back's job difficult. Maybe Tom Brady will be able to work his offensive magic and get more stats out of everyone, including the backs. More ball control can create more opportunities.
7.) Zack Moss – Buffalo Bills
Moss will have to compete with second-year running back Devin Singletary and TJ Yeldon. With the departure of Frank Gore -- who Singletary split time with a season ago -- there are quite a few carries there for the taking. It would seem odd for the Bills to draft Moss in the third round, if they had full confidence in last year’s third-round draft pick in Singletary. It will be interesting to see how the battle plays out. In saying this, Moss was one of the most physical runners in the draft, and he breaks tackles as well as anybody -- which is perfect for the Bills' style of play.
8.) A.J. Dillon - Green Bay Packers
The selection of Dillon in the second round left many scratching their head. The Packers already have Aaron Jones as their do-it-all back and a decent power option in Jamaal Williams. Williams and Dillon will likely be fighting for snaps in similar situations. Dillon is a massive human being that is purely a bruiser. Despite having great straight-line speed, he’s lacking in the agility department, which makes him very linear and rather upright when running the ball. At this point, unless there is an injury or the Packers have some new role in mind for Dillon, expectations should be kept low for his rookie season.