Falcons 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Running Backs

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The Falcons don’t really need help at running back, but it’s part of the series. I’ve linked some mock drafts below with players I like for Atlanta at various stages of the draft process:

Previous editions of this series are listed below:

I’ll be evaluating players by multiple criteria. Since I’m studying for the bar exam and I don’t have as much time to watch film as I would like, these lists may be shorter than in years past. I like to mainly focus on traits and intangibles. Since we don’t get access to one-on-one team interviews and medicals, unfortunately, I just have to do my best in that aspect. Additionally, I’ll be doing prospects that my not be in the Falcons range. For example, even though Jalen Carter likely won’t be available with the 8th overall pick, I’ll act as if the Falcons could trade up to any pick for any player.

Let’s get started!

Current Rostered Running Backs

RB Tyler Allgeier

RB Cordarrelle Patterson

RB Caleb Huntley

RB Avery Williams

This is a good room with a lot of bodies, so I don’t expect the Falcons to use a premium pick on a running back. Still, there’s plenty of guys they could target in the later rounds if they choose to do so. This is a really good looking class, so there are a lot of pure “best player available” options here. The Falcons found good value with Allgeier in the fifth round of last year’s draft, so I wouldn’t be mad about doing the same thing in 2023.

20. Camerun Peoples — App State

Peoples wasn’t on my radar, but at 20th on this list, he’s a testament to how good this class can truly be. He has great balance, especially when running through holes in an inside zone. He’s a north-south guy who can break tackles, and there aren’t any huge holes in his game. He makes a lot of sense for a team looking to develop someone later in the draft.

RAS: 8.75

19. Mohamed Ibrahim — Minnesota

Ibrahim is a strong blocker with good feet — he doesn’t do many things at an elite level, but he’s very well rounded. He has some solid burst outside of the tackles and can pick up some chunks between them. His willingness as a pass blocker will serve him well in the process leading up to the draft.


18. Chris Rodriguez — Kentucky

I expected a little more out of Rodriguez in the 2022 campaign, but there’s still a lot to like about him. He has a nice blend of size and speed with good feet working between the tackles. He isn’t a burner, but he can be a third-down thumper in short situations. He needs to work on trusting his blockers, but there’s absolutely some upside here with the right fit.


17. Deneric Prince — Tulsa

One of the big testers from Indy, Prince probably earned himself a roster spot as a draft pick over being an undrafted free agent with his eye-popping numbers. At 216 pounds, a 4.41 40 yard dash is pretty impressive. His technique needs work, but he was good as a receiver at Tulsa, so if the right staff gets ahold of him, he could turn into a monster.

RAS: 9.84

16. Israel Abanikanda — Pittsburgh

One of my favorite guys from this past college football season to watch, Abanikanda is a violent runner with good balance. He didn’t test at the combine, but he made some huge plays for the Panthers with the ball in his hands, and his ability to patiently hit holes for chunk plays could end up being valuable to an NFL team.


15. Keaton Mitchell — East Carolina

Another smaller, change of pace back, Mitchell had a fantastic combine — running a 4.37 40-yard dash and posting a 10’06” broad jump. He’s an undersized guy, but there’s a place for speedy guys like Mitchell who can make plays out of the backfield as a receiver. He’s one of the best in this entire class at that. He may be limited to these roles in the NFL with his size, but there’s potential there as an outside zone runner if he can add some functional weight. Watch out for this guy, especially in the right system.

RAS: 8.53

14. Deuce Vaughn — Kansas State

Even though he only clocked in at 5’5, you can’t ignore what Deuce Vaughn did on the field. He’s an explosive, gadget player that may be limited to that role in the NFL, but we saw another Kansas State Wildcat named Darren Sproles do the same thing for a decade. He’s a strong back for a guy his size, and he’s one of the quickest and most agile players in this entire group. Don’t sleep on the short king.


13. Roschon Johnson — Texas

Bijan Robinson’s running mate may have been overshadowed at times, but he showed a lot of high quality reps that were just as good as Robinson’s. He has great size for the position, and the fact that he ran a 4.58 is promising for his future as a bellcow running back. He has great feet for a guy his size and can often shed tacklers with ease. I think Johnson is being greatly overlooked due to how special Robinson is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a high-quality starter in the NFL, even if he’s drafted on day two or three.

RAS: 8.09

12. Sean Tucker — Syracuse

Tucker’s quickness and ability as a receiver makes him an appealing option for a lot of teams. Although I was not PL34SED he didn’t work out at the combine, his tape speaks for itself. He often times put Syracuse on his back, and if the former first-team All American can put on some weight without sacrificing his agility, he has a chance to give an NFL team quality carries from day one.


11. Eric Gray — Oklahoma

I really wanted to see Gray test, but he put enough on film to prove he’s worth of a day two pick. He’s a violent runner for a guy his size, and he has the top-notch speed to be a franchise running back. He was really good in the screen game. Fit will be big for him, but he has the potential to be a steal later in the draft.


10. DeWayne McBride — UAB

I really wanted to see McBride test, mainly because of the rave reviews he gets as a workout warrior. He also led the country in yards after contact in 2021. McBride is a violent runner with soft hands — a combo that can be pretty rare in college football. He apparently runs in the low 4.5s, and if he can really develop his vision and contact balance to an NFL level, he’s going to make a Pro Bowl.


9. Kenny McIntosh — Georgia

Kenny Mac had one of the quietest 1,300 all purpose yard seasons in recent memory, and he had some decent numbers at the combine. I thought his 40 would be a little faster, but he had some good splits. Like James Cook the year before, McIntosh really improved as a runner between the tackles, and he was already a big-time threat as a receiver. He looks to be another line of quality Kirby Smart running backs in the NFL.


8. Zach Evans — Ole Miss

Evans didn’t work out at the combine, but there’s no mistaking his gifts as a runner and receiver in Lane Kiffin’s offense. For a guy his size, he’s a physical runner between the tackles and can leave guys behind in a hurry. I like his ability to stop on a dime and make cuts, and if he can develop more as a receiver, he’s going to be a top-notch change of pace back.


7. Tyjae Spears — Tulane

One of my favorite sleepers in this entire class. Even as a smaller back, Spears is insanely explosive — evidenced by his leaping ability with a 39 inch vertical and 10’05” broad jump. Spears also put up a very respectable 18 bench press reps for a guy his size. He’s an elite weapon out of the backfield as a receiver, and he can make some chunk plays on the ground if he can get to the edge. I really like his upside, and if he goes to the right team that will use him in a variety of ways, the sky’s the limit.


6. Devon Achane — Texas A&M

An absolute speed demon with solid vision, Achane is a player you can’t get distracted by when it comes to RAS. His size is taking him down a few pegs; he still ran a 4.32 with top-notch splits. He isn’t all speed — he’s great as a receiver and can make some ridiculous cuts. He’s going to get the obvious Darren Sproles comparison, but it’s a good one to have in today’s NFL if he can add some size without sacrificing speed in the process.

RAS: 6.84

5. Tank Bigsby — Auburn

I was a little disappointed with Bigsby’s combine showing, but he’s a guy that you just have to trust your eyes with. He displayed great vision and contact balance at Auburn, and he has the build of a franchise running back. He’s a physical runner that can squeeze through tight holes with a lot of burst and finish with authority. His blend of size, agility, and vision should make him an impact running back almost immediately.

RAS: 7.81

4. Chase Brown — Illinois

One of my favorite names before the 2022 season kicked off, Brown absolutely blew up Indy and solidified himself as one of the top guys in this group. Not only did his athletic traits pop, but Brown consistently showed elite vision and good hands for the Illini. He’s built like a brick house and has very underrated speed, especially as he approaches the line of scrimmage. He’s one of my favorite prospects in this draft, and while I used to consider him more of a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none”, I think he has ascended into the upper tier with his showing in Indy. It’s hard to ignore a 4.43 40-yard dash and a 40 inch vertical.

RAS: 9.75

3. Jahmyr Gibbs — Alabama

His RAS may be a little misleading — it’s lower mostly due to Gibbs not having great size. What he does have is a 4.36 40-yard dash and great hands out of the backfield, two things that NFL teams are going to love leading up to the draft. His size isn’t a big concern to me, I think he can still be a bellcow in a backfield, and if he isn’t, he’s going to be one of the better young change of pace backs in the entire NFL.

RAS: 7.95

2. Zach Charbonnet — UCLA

I wanted Charbonnet in the 2022 draft cycle, but he decided to return to school and it appears that decision is going to pay off for him. Charbonnet is a violent runner and grinds out a lot of tough yards. The fact that he showed up to the combine and posted a 1.54 10-yard split on his 40 is only going to help. He also jumped out of the gym, showing he can be a really explosive player. He made big strides as a receiver and looks to be a future franchise running back in the NFL.

RAS: 9.42

1. Bijan Robinson — Texas

In my opinion, if you’re not counting position, Robinson is probably the best player in this entire draft class. Not only did he show off his athletic gifts at the combine, but his patience, vision, and ability to contribute as a receiver makes him the ultimate package at the position. He has it all — size, speed, and power. Let’s not get cute here; this guy is the cream of the crop in a really good group of backs.

RAS: 9.81

Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

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