2023 NFL Draft: Top 5 Running Back Prospects

In a position that has taken a bit of a hit in hype over the years as teams have shifted focus towards building around receivers on offense instead, we’ll be breaking down the top 5 running backs entering this year’s draft with one who should see his name called very early. 

#1: Bijan Robinson – Texas

The clear #1 running back in this year’s draft, Bijan Robinson is miles ahead of the competition and should make a rare appearance as a running back drafted in the 1st round. Robinson is the best running back prospect out of Texas since the Jamaal Charles days between 2005-2007. Robinson was the winner of the 2022 Doak Walker award for good reason as he racked up over 1,500 yards and is one of the best prospects overall we’ve seen at the position over the last decade. 

#2: Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama

Alabama should rebrand themselves for having stud running backs & wide receivers come through their program, especially in recent years. Producing such talent as Josh Jacobs, Jaylen Waddle, & Derrick Henry in recent years, Jahmyr Gibbs has a job cut out for him to live up to some of the many Pro Bowlers who have gone to Alabama. Despite not eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark, Gibbs was a dual threat out of the backfield as he racked up over 400 receiving yards. There are a couple backs in the NFL who have proven their worth on both the ground and through the air such as Austin Ekeler & Alvin Kamara which makes for a difficult task for defensives trying to game plan around them. 

#3: Devon Achane – Texas A&M

Posting the 3rd fastest time overall and the fastest time by a running back on the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. Achane might not have the stamina to be an every down back, but he has the speed and explosiveness to be a playmaker and difference maker in the backfield. We see Achane compared to players like Raheem Mostert & Melvin Gordon. These players are some of the fastest ball carriers in the league, but struggle with ball control & in receiving. Achane would pair up well in a backfield with an established back as the lead. 

#4: Zach Charbonnet – UCLA

A power runner that is not afraid to go right through defenders is Zach Charbonnet of UCLA. Charbonnet brings a lot of upside as he can be an every down back. He might not have the versatility of Gibbs, the speed of Achane, or the playmaking of Robinson, but he’s a durable power back that can get the job done. Charbonnet reminds us a lot of backs like Jamaal Williams or Boston Scott who have been in a feature role before but do best as the guy who is going to get you those crucial 3rd down & goal line plays. Charbonnet has ability to play every down like Charbonnet if he can work on those elements of his game, but we expect him to see a lot of red zone touches in the NFL and would mesh well with a lead back like Joe Mixon or David Montgomery where he can be the ground & pound guy. 

#5: Tyjae Spears – Tulane

Of all running backs in the FBS, Tyjae Spears finished the 2022 season with the 5th most rushing yards and an impressive 19 touchdowns which was only 1 shy of sharing first place. Spears was an integral part of Tulane closing out the season ranked 9th overall in the AP rankings. This gave Tulane the opportunity to get some national air coverage during Bowl Season by being featured in the Cotton Bowl against the historic USC program and ended up pulling out the win in a nailbiter. This was the perfect chance for Spears to showcase his playmaking as he had 4 touchdowns and over 200 yards rushing in this game in the biggest game of the year. The knee injury that Spears suffered in a prior year is our only concern keeping us from putting him higher on this list as his speed isn’t quite what it once was as he still has some nursing to do.

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