2020 Rookie RB Rankings
Kansas City ChiefsRB1
Clyde Edwards-Helaire aka CEH in Fantasy Communities. CEH was this year’s lone RB drafted in the first round and placed in an excellent position with Kansas City. He is the presumptive RB1 for many; I do believe this is his backfield even with Damien Williams lurking in the shadows, simply put Damien Williams has never amassed a season of 500+ yards on the ground. CEH can bring a physical presence to this back field, while his size (5’7”) would typically be an issue for CEH this has benefited him with his lower center of gravity and strong legs, you can expect to see him chopping his feet and digging for extra yards even after first contact. He is a proven receiver and a subpar blocker, which may play to him taking the reins over this backfield. That said, he still is a Raw Talent having only been a 1 year starter with LSU, while he did impress under the big lights there are concerns in regards to his ball placement that hindered his ball security that will need to be addressed. As well as his overall vision and finding the best run path. It is Kansas City’s hope they can finally fill the large void left after cutting ties with previous 1000 yard rusher, and former breakout player, Kareem Hunt.
D’Andre Swift, who is number 2 on my list, will definitely be a prospect to watch in this upcoming season, users on Twitter are predicting him overtaking Kerryon Johnson for lead back, much to the chagrin of KJ. After playing 3rd fiddle, at the University of Georgia, behind both Michel and Chubb (now starting NFL RBs) his freshman year. Swift went on to be an excellent 2 year starter and really showcased on why he can certainly be the top RB prospect of this draft class. He has great agility and quickness to evade defenders, which he proved during the combine with his 4.48 40 yard dash time. He is always one play away from breaking off a long run and has excellent vision and awareness. Swift, despite being only 5’8” uses his stocky frame well and is not afraid to challenge defenders physically. On top of this, he has shown to be an excellent blocker and his soft hands really benefited his receiving game as well. General concern last year was his shoulder injury and some ball security issues, but overall Swift has been working hard this offseason, which should wash away some doubts over his health for the upcoming season. Swift’s usage, barring an injury to KJ, should be fairly slow to start and once he has adapted to the change of pace that is the NFL, we should see him overtake KJ for the starting position.
Jonathan Taylor rounds out my top three RBs of this class, rightfully so. JT had a blazing 4.34 forty yard dash time at this year’s combine. Despite forgoing his senior year of eligibility, JT had an amazing career coming out of the University of Wisconsin. He started every year, averaged almost 2000 yards a season; falling just shy of that mark, a top tier RB and Heisman hopeful coming into this season. JT is described as a bruiser back with excellent vision, patience for blocks to develop and known for his YAC. While there were some concerns about his agility and stiff hips, fortunately, Taylor was drafted in an excellent position with the Colts. Paired alongside Marlon Mack, he should serve as Mack’s RB1b working primarily short yardage and goalline situations. Taylor certainly has the experience and mechanics to be a bellcow, in the event that Mack goes down with an injury, but for his development it may be better if this happened later rather than sooner.
Personally, one of my favorite running backs coming out of college. Unfortunately, Dobbins opted out of the combine, so we weren’t exposed to his measurements against the other RBs in this class. With this in mind, Dobbins does have the prototypical size for a RB and he is a do-it-all back (shoutout to CMC) who can run, catch and block extremely well. Dobbins will absolutely punish defenders and welcomes physicality, while this can be seen as a negative as he is always looking to mix things up and can cloud his judgement, wearing down defenders physically would be a recipe for success. In addition to his physicality, he has breakaway speed, great agility and footwork; he is a big play waiting to happen. Given his heavy workload during his 3 year stint as a starter for THE Ohio State Buckeyes, one has to wonder will he be able to shoulder a full load if presented? At the moment, Dobbins supporters will not have to worry too much about this having a very crowded backfield with Ingram, Edwards and, last year's 4th round pick, Justice Hill it may take some time for this to be presented to Dobbins. At the moment, it appears Dobbins can be ranked RB3 on the depth chart, but with questions looming about Ingram and Edwards returning next year, it leaves the question if Dobbins will be in for a full workload next season.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersRB2/3
This may be the biggest head scratcher in terms of rankings and current backfield situations. I would have ranked him higher, if not for RJJ and Dare in the backfield, I do believe as it stands Tampa Bay still has faith in RJJ. With this in mind, given previous years performance I do see this should be an excellent time for Vaughn to assume the reins in this back field. He is seen with a very noticeable attitude, which is correlated in his running play. He was recognized for his patient, but aggressive running style. However, we did not get to see him show out or placed in the spotlight with his time at Vanderbilt, he still has landed in an excellent spot with TB. Under the starting helm of RBBC, this will allow him to be accustomed to the game flow and slowly be moved into an every-down-back. His vision, quickness and receiving ability should help him separate from the pack as he looks to assume RB1 status, he should pay dividends as a late round pick-up.
Los Angeles RamsRB3
Mr. Akers is probably lower on my rankings than others will have him. His ranking was tricky for me, while he definitely does have a good chance in being Gurley’s successor with the Rams, it is anyone’s guess if the Rams will give him an opportunity this year. He is currently behind both Henderson and Brown, Brown has started on a few occasions and Henderson, who was a third round pick in 2019, has a strong case to be made to be the starter incumbent for the upcoming season. But why so low? For me, this is a simple answer, there are many question marks remaining for him. While he was one of the most sought out recruits coming out of high school receiving offers from Bama, Auburn, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio St and others before going to Florida St, the previous campaigns with FSU left much to be desired. He was not a strong blocker in his time with FSU and shifting from a very porous competition level to NFL could take some getting used to for Akers. This considered, Akers was still a 3 year starter before forgoing his senior year for this year’s draft. He is described as a powerful runner with great vision and a chain mover, potentially an every down back. Ultimately, while it would be nice to see Akers on the field this season. It may be better for him to ride the pine this year.