The 2023 NFL Combine wrapped up its televised, on-field drills on Sunday, with the offensive linemen and running backs groups. In case you missed any of our Combine coverage, be sure to check out the following position groups.
- 7 defensive tackle standouts
- 10 edge rusher standouts
- 10 linebacker standouts
- 12 cornerback standouts
- 7 safety standouts
- Breaking down all 15 quarterbacks
- 12 wide receiver standouts
- 8 tight end standouts
While not every draft-eligible running back participated, let’s take a close look at the running backs that stood out at the Combine.
Note: Next to the player's name is their height, weight, and 40/10-yard dash times.
Bijan Robinson, Texas, 5-foot-11, 215, 4.46/1.52
Checks across the board, Robinson participated in all the on-field drills at the Combine and solidified his spot as not only the top running back, but also as one of the best prospects in the entire draft class.
Everything is smooth and easy. At times his combination of skills makes things look much easier than they actually are, as he lacks significant limitations—beyond being a running back in a league that has devalued the position in recent years.
Robinson’s feet are fast and tight, there is power in all his movements, yet it looks like he is barely trying. His motor never stops and he gashed through the Combine drills with skill and precision. Instincts are off the charts, he can move in tight spaces with ease, and when he gets in space, he’s fluid and fast. His hands are as natural and soft as any other back, and he can make the hard catches look easy.
Bijan Robinson’s footwork is powerful, easy, and smooth pic.twitter.com/OiW4N0mOVZ— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) March 6, 2023
Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama, 5-foot-9, 199, 4.36/1.52
Gibbs is a silky-smooth prospect that possesses elite speed and change-of-direction skills. He operated at top speed throughout the running back drills, showed explosive cuts and jukes that were as dynamic as they were fast. He is an absolute home run hitter with the ball in his hands, and there are plenty of ways to make that happen. Gibbs has easy, natural hands, a long-armed catch radius, and is uncoverable on “Wheel” and “Texas” routes.
His balance is next level, as his feet move independently of his upper body, even at top speed:
Jahmyr Gibbs is like a seasoned hula dancer. His lower body is pistoning off the ground while his upper body barely moves. Elite balance. pic.twitter.com/r4h0h8f5wt— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) March 6, 2023
Gibbs is RB2 for me, and a steal in Round 2, if he makes it there.
Devon Achane, Texas A&M, 5-foot-8 1/2, 188, 4.32/1.51
Achane is going to get knocked for his size, but checking in at 188 pounds and maintaining his skill set is all the evidence I need to want him on my team—RB3 for me.
A compact and easy runner, Achane has no wasted movement on the field. With elite speed, Achane can get up to full speed in an instant and is incredibly fluid in tight spaces. He possesses tremendous change of direction skills, when he puts his foot in the ground, he can alter his course and run away from any pursuit.
Devon Achane is so fluid and fast. Lights up the Duce Staley drill with quickness and no wasted movement. pic.twitter.com/mv9Z2s3AA9— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) March 6, 2023
Quick thoughts on others who impressed
Zach Charbonnet, UCLA (6-foot-0 1/2, 214, 4.53/1.54) is big and powerful. He makes decisive hard cuts but he fights against his size when working in space and is a much better north-south runner. As a pass catcher, he routinely snatched the ball out of the air. He is more of a complement back to D’Andre Swift, rather than a back that would replace him, like the three backs above him on this list.
Tyjae Spears, Tulane (5-foot-10, 201, no run) showed that he is an explosive cutter with fast feet and above-average change of direction skills. He provides a quarterback with a nice target, displays terrific body control, and shiftiness in space.
Roschon Johnson, Texas (6-foot-0, 219, 4.58/1.52) runs tall but he showed fast feet at the Combine. His balance is solid at his size, showed a nice burst for a bigger back, and had good concentration when catching the ball.
Kenny McIntosh, Georgia (6-foot-0, 204, 4.62/1.54) didn’t look as confident as a runner at the Combine as he did on Georgia’s game tape, but he did highlight his best skill: pass catching. McIntosh showed natural, easy hands, and smooth route running skills. Day 1, third-down back in the NFL.
Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State (5-foot-6, 179, no run) is undersized, but he very much looks like a Darren Sproles clone. He is compact in stature, electric and explosive with the ball in his hands, and can flat-out fly down the field. He may be just a late-round flier, but I expect him to be drafted.
Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina (5-foot-8, 179, 4.37/1.48) is also undersized, and like Vaughn, he can fly. Mitchell showed the ability to get upfield quickly once the ball was in his hands, and is a natural receiver. He is both quick and fast, and a lot of fun when he gets in space. Mitchell is also a late-round flier at best, but his draftability is a bit more in question.
Evan Hull, Northwestern (5-foot-10, 209, 4.47/1.53) ran the ball to the end zone every time in every drill, regardless of where it took place on the field—a habit he picked up from his running back coach at Northwestern. He never winded or looked tired, which points to his endurance, but he also showed draftable skills at the Combine.