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Best 2020 NFL Draft Prospects: Running Backs

The 2019 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here are the best 2020 NFL Draft prospects: Running backs.

Note: Players will not be ranked in the article.

Cam Akers, Florida State

He was one of the best recruits in the country and chose to go to Florida State. Akers was so highly recruited because of his physical attributes. He has the size, speed and quickness to be a pro running back and spent his first two seasons in Tallahassee proving it.

Akers has rushed for 1,731 yards and 13 touchdowns on 4.9 yards per carry as a Seminole. While he doesn’t have as many rushing yards as other running backs on this list, Akers has run behind some bad offensive lines in the last few seasons.

This season, Akers will likely be running behind a line that is not among the most talented in the country again. If he can demonstrate that he has good vision and makes good reads, that will outweigh the numbers and could get him drafted early in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Best 2020 NFL Draft Prospects: Running Backs
A.J. Dillon (Photo by bostonglobe.com)

A.J. Dillon, Boston College

Dillon originally committed to Michigan, but decided to sign with Boston College on Signing Day. Since that point, he has been the focal point of the Boston College offense and he has become a star. At 6-foot and 245 pounds, Dillon is very tough to tackle and picks up extra yards due to his physicality.

Over his career as an Eagle, Dillon has rushed for 2,697 yards and 24 touchdowns. His freshman season was a little more productive, but both seasons in Chestnut Hill, he has been able to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. He has done a lot of his work while facing stacked boxes as well, as Boston College hasn’t had much of a passing game over the last several seasons.

For this upcoming season, Dillon is set to be featured once again in the Boston College offense. With a lot of running backs jockeying for positioning, Dillon could be one of the first selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Dobbins burst onto the scene as a freshman in the season opener against Indiana with fellow running back Mike Weber being out for a few games with an injury. Since that point, Dobbins and Weber have split carries in the backfield. With Weber in the pros now, Dobbins is set to be the one handling most of the carries for Ohio State.

He has 2,456 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground for the Buckeyes in his two seasons in Columbus. His freshman season was more productive than his sophomore year, but he also averaged an insane 7.2 yards per carry as a freshman. Dobbins is a smaller running back, but he is shifty and has the ability to turn into a weapon in the passing game with more playing time this season.

The spotlight will be on Dobbins this year at Ohio State. With Weber no longer fighting him for carries and quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the NFL as well, he will be the focal point of the Ohio State offense. With a good season, he could be selected early in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Best 2020 NFL Draft Prospects: Running Backs
Travis Etienne (Photo by independentmail.com)

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Clemson has had several talented running backs over the last few seasons, but Etienne is the best of them all. Etienne wasn’t the highest rated prospect in the 2017 recruiting class, as 247 sports ranked him as the 213th best player, but he has made a name for himself.

As a freshman, Etienne got his feet wet with 766 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 7.2 yards per carry. In his second season as a Tiger, Etienne was even more effective with 1,658 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 8.1 yards per carry. He makes every touch matter and helped Clemson win the National Championship Game last season.

This season Clemson is projected to have a great offense with Etienne at running back and Trevor Lawrence at quarterback. If he keeps his yards per carry average high, Etienne will be coveted by a lot of NFL teams.

Najee Harris, Alabama

Harris was one of the highest rated recruits in his class and has been in a very talented Alabama backfield for two seasons now. Now that Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris are in the NFL, Harris will get a lot more carries this upcoming college football season.

He has just 1,153 rushing yards in his college career, but has averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Harris more than doubled his rushing yards with 768 last season and also had 6.7 yards per carry. He has the size and strength to be a good power back at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds.

Now that two Alabama running backs have left for the NFL, Harris should be the back that gets most of the work. With Tua Tagovailoa playing quarterback, the Crimson Tide should have a high-powered offense.

D’Andre Swift, Georgia

Swift is another running back that has had to fight for carries his whole college career. As a freshman, he was the third head of a three-headed monster featuring Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Last season he and Elijah Holyfield split carries in the backfield.

For his career, Swift has 1,667 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. In the 2018-2019 season, Swift got more opportunity and eclipsed 1,000 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns. At 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Swift has great quickness and agility that he uses for his advantage.

Even though talented running backs have left the Georgia program for the NFL, Swift will still share carries in the backfield with some of the other talented players. Swift will still be given first dibs on carries and a good season could propel him into early-round consideration in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Taylor had an amazing freshman season that saw him break plenty of records. As a sophomore, he came back to Wisconsin and had an even better season for the Badgers. The big, bruising running back has at least one more season of college football before heading off to the next level.

At Wisconsin, Taylor has a whopping 4,171 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. He had just under 2,000 rushing yards as a freshman and 2,194 rushing yards as a sophomore. He has done all of this against boxes that are completely loaded and defenses who are keying on him to stop the offense.

While he will still have a lot of stacked boxes to run against next season, Taylor should be really productive once again. With another good season, Taylor will be a highly-selected running back come next April.

 

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