Pre-Draft Rookie Running Back Ranks
by Alan Seslowsky
One of RosterWatch’s expert rookie analysts, Byron Lambert, unveiled the first part of his pre-draft rookie RB ranks this week. He gave a detailed breakdown of the top 15 runners during the RosterWatch podcast #234. Byron is on the frontlines for RosterWatch nation. His scouting journey takes him to the Senior Bowl in Alabama, the NFL combine in Indianapolis, and the key Pro Days around the country. Below are a few highlights of his initial ranks.
AJ Dillon, Boston College (Byron Lambert’s RB13)
An absolute monster truck at 6’0″ and 247lbs. His 40-time of 4.53 put Dillon solidly on the fantasy radar. His closest comps are Steven Jackson, James Conner, and LeGarrette Blount. There is some internal debate at RosterWatch that we may be too low on AJ Dillon. The crux of that uncertainty is that we are asking the question, “Do we have another LeGarrette Blount or even Derrick Henry or is Dillon more Chris Warren?” There are not many guys at Dillon’s size that make it at the NFL level. AJ Dillon is big, physical and makes plays with his speed. The issue is he is a bit stiff and upright. Dillon is one of the most interesting RBs to monitor on draft day.
Zack Moss, Utah (Byron Lambert’s RB10)
Moss is a buzzy player who has become one of the name brand RBs in this deep draft class. His 5’9″ 223-pound frame is workhorse size, but his 4.65 forty time is below the top two tiers of runners in this class. The senior had rock-solid college production, totaling over 1000 yards in his last three seasons at Utah. RosterWatch doesn’t see many elite traits on Moss, but do find his analytical profile from PFF to be appealing and something that should probably be considered (3rd in rushing grade for 2019, 10th in YAC/attempt and 2nd in missed tackles forced among all college RBs). Still, we project him lower than past prospects like Kareem Hunt, David Montgomery, and possibly even Alexander Mattison. He profiles more like Pittsburgh Steelers grinder Benny Snell. If Moss lands in a spot where he can get the opportunity, he will be a useful asset for your fantasy team, similar to Benny Snell’s performance in spots in 2019.
Antonio Gibson, Memphis (Byron Lambert’s RB8)
Gibson was one of our favorite players at the Senior Bowl this year and a member of the 2020 All-Senior Bowl roster. He blazed a 4.39 forty time with his imposing 6’0″ 228 lbs frame. He was miscast as a WR during the pre-draft process. He looks more like a natural RB. We hope teams make the right evaluation on Gibson who had 12 TDs and 1100 total yards with an eye-popping 11.2 YPC on low volume. The key to identifying how we view him for fantasy will greatly depend on how the NFL views him. RosterWatch’s concern is that he is pigeon-holed into a sub-optimal role. Antonio Gibson is much better than other past NFL hybrid players like Ty Montgomery, Jaylen Samuels, and Tony Pollard. Gibson has a chance to be more like Joe Mixon if the team that drafts him gives him an opportunity. RosterWatch scouts noted, at the Senior Bowl, he is a good natural runner in addition to his high-end pass-catching skills.