The 2020 NFL Draft will be overflowing with talent at running back.
Positional value is always a debate had by draft analysts in the months leading up to the NFL Draft, and running back is often ranked as a position group unworthy of first-round consideration.
And while it’s true that good starting running backs can be found in the second and third round (and even Day 3), it doesn’t mean truly elite prospects at the position won’t be valued as early first-round players.
The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great example of talent trumping positional value.
There are two legitimate first-round running backs in this class in Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. Both players offer elite upside as full-time starters (three-down backs) in the NFL and, barring injury, will be top-20 prospects (if not higher).
Etienne is a true home-run hitter with next-level speed. And by next level, I mean he’s more explosive than just about every current starter in the NFL.
Swift, who has great speed in his own right, is physical, runs with great pad level, lateral agility and deceptive elusiveness.
But they aren’t the only two players who will challenge for top-32 consideration. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins and Florida State’s Cam Akers have phenomenal upside.
Taylor, specifically, will be a fantastic player to scout this season. He’s coming off of back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons, but with that incredible level of production also comes less tread remaining on his tires. NFL teams will knock him for that, but in today’s game where running backs don’t always get a second contract from their first team, it may not matter all that much.
Akers, the former five-star recruit, has been victimized by a poor supporting cast. But if he rises above his surroundings in 2019, he could be a surprise candidate to challenge as one of the first running backs off the board.
Bottom line? If you’re an NFL team that needs a running back, the 2020 NFL draft will be the gift that keeps on giving.