RB- Tyjae Spears, Tulane (5-11, 195)
There are running backs galore in the 2023 NFL Draft, further devaluing the position with productive starters being found in nearly every round. Last year the star running back of Senior Bowl week was Florida’s Dameon Pierce who was selected in the fourth round by the Houston Texans and went on to rush for 939 yards in 13 games as a rookie.
The Senior Bowl always seems to have future NFL producers at running back and this group looks as good as any with Texas’ Roschon Johnson and Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh leading the way as two likely Top-100 picks. Joining them could be Tulane’s Tyjae Spears.
Spears, the top non-Power Five running back in the class, just helped lead the Green Wave to a Cotton Bowl win and their most successful season since 1998. He was the engine that kept the offense running and totaled 1,837 yards from scrimmage with 21 TDs while averaging 7.3 per touch.
As the NFL prioritizes shifty pass-catching backs (aka satellite backs), Spears is entering the league at the perfect time. He’s a fluid mover with ridiculous change-of-direction skills and the elusiveness to make defenders look silly in space. Despite not being heavily used as a pass catcher the last two seasons (41 receptions for 401 yards), he’s shown consistent ball skills as a playmaker in the passing game.
In one-on-ones against linebackers at the Senior Bowl, Spears will be able to show the mismatches he can create with his pass-catching prowess and quickness. In team drills, look for that burst to lead to chunk runs. Spears is a similar player to James Cook, who the Buffalo Bills selected at No. 63 in the 2022 NFL Draft. (Northwestern running back Evan Hull is a super sleeper to know in this class, he’ll be in Mobile.)