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Introducing the 2020 Rookie Running Back Class


The 2020 class has been getting a ton of hype for some time now and as the offseason goes on, it’s only going to pick up.

If you’ve gathered yourself some 2020 rookie picks, hold on to them because they’re only going to gain value. This year’s running back class is going to be very talented and deep.

Let's dive into the 2020 RB draft class to see which rookie runners you might want to consider in dynasty and re-draft leagues. For a look at the QB position, click here.

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D’Andre Swift, Georgia

The first name on this list is Georgia Bulldogs running back D’Andre Swift. Swift is the total package when it comes to being a complete running back. His combination of speed, elusiveness, and versatility in the passing game is something special to watch. As you watch him play throughout his time in college, it’s tough to find any major holes in his game.

Playing at Georgia, Swift has spent some time behind some big-name running backs like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Despite being a freshman when those two were on the roster, Swift still saw the field a decent amount. He carried the ball 81 times as a freshman for 618 yards and three touchdowns as the third-string guy. Swift isn’t heavily involved in the passing game, but is efficient and more than capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Based on pure talent and profile, Swift is the first running back I’d be targeting if we were drafting dynasty rookie drafts today. However, a lot can change between now and the NFL Draft, and often times landing spot changes things immensely.

 

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Wisconsin seems to always end up with big offensive lineman and talented running backs on their roster. The name to watch out of Wisconsin this year is Jonathan Taylor. In the Rose Bowl against Oregon, Taylor just recently became the first Badgers running back to rush for 2,000+ yards in consecutive seasons. Not only is Taylor breaking records, but he’s a very powerful north/south runner with excellent patience, burst, and vision. His long speed and work in the receiving game could improve, but he’s got the tools and profile to be a three-down back in the NFL.

While I do currently have Swift ahead of Taylor in my rankings, the skill set is great and depending on where these two are drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, Taylor could end up surpassing Swift.

 

Travis Etienne, Clemson

The next running back to note is Travis Etienne out of Clemson. Unlike Swift, Taylor, and really any running back in this class, Etienne possesses speed and explosiveness that is in a tier of its own. He was a high school track star and personally I can’t wait to see what he does at the NFL Combine. Another trait of his that really stands out is his contact balance. Etienne breaks tackles easily and is very productive between the tackles.

Etienne is a very exciting prospect, but there are also some holes in his game that he needs to improve on. His blocking skills need work and that can always prevent a rookie from getting on the field early. With a slightly smaller frame, he may not be someone that ends up as a three-down back in the NFL, but the way the NFL is moving, there’s definitely a chance he ends up getting more work than initially expected.

 

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Next up is J.K. Dobbins, the versatile running back out of Ohio State. Some NFL mock drafts have shown Dobbins as potentially the first running back to get drafted in this 2020 class. Dobbins has increased his draft stock this year after posting 2,003 rushing yards which were enough to break the recent Ohio State record held by Eddie George.

While the Buckeyes did lose to Clemson in the College Football Playoff, Dobbins racked up 147 rushing yards and 47 receiving yards on six catches. Dobbins has proven to be a reliable pass-catcher and blocker, and can definitely be someone that is a three-down back in the NFL.

 

Najee Harris, Alabama

Yet another Alabama running back makes his way into the NFL, this time it's Najee Harris. Harris is a very tough runner and his legs move nonstop to get every yard he can. For a running back of his size, he has great footwork and quickness. He looks oddly similar to Derrick Henry based on the way he runs and thanks to his size. Not only does he have that size and power, but the combination of his power and quickness makes him a very intriguing prospect.

One of the more appealing things about Harris is the fact that he’s leaving college with under 400 career carries, meaning he’ll enter the NFL without a ton of wear and tear.

 

Cam Akers, Florida State

Akers is a quick and elusive running back who runs with great balance. On top of his quickness, he never goes down easily and rarely goes down on the first point of contact. Akers’ pass protection will give him a chance to get on the field early on, and his pass-catching ability makes him a potential weapon in the NFL in the future. His patience is decent but needs work as someone who tends to get ahead of himself with his runs.

Akers isn’t someone that is going to go off the board super early, he could end up as a decent value later in the draft. It will be interesting to see where he gets drafted, and his dynasty value could change depending on what type of role he finds himself in. If he ends up as a complementary back, he could have some decent value as a pass-catcher. Akers does have the skills to potentially see the field on all three downs, so we’ll just need to wait and see what team drafts him to really see what he can do and how he’ll be utilized.

 

Late-round names to watch

Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma
Chuba Hubbard has put together some excellent performances in 2019, with four games of 200+ rushing yards. He has good vision and is very explosive.

Zach Moss, Utah
He was the lynchpin for the offense of the surprising Utes as their workhorse back. He totaled over 1,800 scrimmage yards and scored 17 times in his senior year. He is more of an interior runner that could find a role on a committee somewhere in the pros.

Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
Eno Benjamin is a smaller running back who is shifty, can change directions, and hits holes well. He’s not a great pass-catcher and doesn’t profile as a three-down back, but has interesting skills that will likely make him a complementary back in the NFL.

Lamical Perine, Florida
He showed up big in the Gators' bowl win over Virginia, running for 138 yards and two TD while adding another score through the air. He was underutilized in college but could find a home on an NFL roster.

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