The Best Prospect Since Barry Sanders? A Rich Man’s Derrick Henry? Multiple RBs Blow Up Our Post-Combine Prospect Lab Rankings
Image Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: AJ Dillon.

Shawn Siegele provides updated RB Prospect Lab Rankings after the running backs put on a show at the combine. He profiles the winners and losers, and tells you how to play the position in upcoming drafts.

With the 2020 NFL combine results now flowing into tools like the RB Prospect Lab, Box Score Scout, and NFL Combine Explorer, we can improve our projections, increase the accuracy of our player comps, and make better predictions about eventual draft slot.

Last week, I used the ADP charting feature from the FFPC Dashboard to point out several big values at RB. Those players exploded over the weekend. One looks like he could be the best prospect since Barry Sanders. Another can suddenly be mistaken for a Derrick Henry doppelganger.

Who won big and who lost early-round momentum? We take a closer look with our post-combine RB Prospect Lab Rankings.

2020 RB Prospect Lab Rankings (Post-Combine)

PlayerAgeWTFortyCareer All-Purpose YardsRuYD FinalApTD FinalFinal RecYd MSProj Percentile
Jonathan Taylor212264.391551431.860.09100
A.J. Dillon21.72474.531321401.250.0982
J.K. Dobbins21.12094.5*1221431.640.0780
Zack Moss22.12234.651061091.310.1467
Cam Akers20.52174.47931041.640.0860
Clyde Edwards-Helaire20.72074.685941.130.0854
D'Andre Swift212124.4883870.570.0748
Eno Benjamin20.72074.571049010.1147
Joshua Kelley22.12124.49104961.180.0247
Ke'Shawn Vaughn22.72144.5186860.830.1345
Anthony McFarland21.82084.4480560.820.0741
Benny LeMay22.22214.7597971.180.1139
Michael Warren21.22264.6588901.140.0631
Lamical Perine21.92164.6263520.850.0731
J.J. Taylor221854.6193660.450.130
Scottie Phillips22.32094.5682600.670.0429
Rico Dowdle21.62134.5468500.40.0829
Levante Bellamy23.11924.5861131.770.0229
Javon Leake21.42154.6548610.670.0328
Salvon Ahmed211974.6260850.920.0327
Tony Jones22.12204.6850710.580.0424
Darius Anderson22.32084.6162690.50.0524
Sewo Olonilua22.12324.6644450.750.0520
Patrick Taylor21.72174.5775580.830.0319
JaMycal Hasty23.32054.5554450.50.0518
Raymond Calais21.81884.4245630.50.0212

Winners

Jonathan Taylor

If you scoured the initial RB Prospect Lab Rankings, checked out his top-10 position in my dynasty tiers, read T.J. Calkins’ profile asking Is Jonathan Taylor the Perfect RB?, or perused Travis May’s Top 100 Rookie Rankings, a countdown that had him emphatically at No. 1 . . . well, then you were prepared for Taylor to post a 4.39 forty at 226 pounds.

The Wisconsin star is the best prospect in this draft and possibly the best prospect in a long, long time. He resets the scale at RB, with stars like Melvin Gordon and Christian McCaffrey falling next in line.

 
Player Age WT Forty Car AP YD Final Rush YD Final AP TD FinalRecYdMS Proj. Percentile Actual First 3 Seasons
Jonathan Taylor 21 226 4.39 155 143 1.86 0.09 100 TBD
Melvin Gordon 21.7 215 4.52 125 185 2.29 0.07 96 659
Christian McCaffrey 20.6 202 4.48 160 146 1.45 0.17 96 1113.5
Todd Gurley II 20.4 222 4.52 130 152 1.5 0.06 92 813
LaMichael James 22.2 195 4.45 154 150 1.58 0.08 90 44.4
Giovani Bernard 21.1 202 4.53 145 123 1.7 0.17 89 631
Ezekiel Elliott 20.5 225 4.47 126 140 1.77 0.08 86 918.5
Leonard Fournette 22 240 4.51 136 120 1.14 0.13 86 671.6
Dalvin Cook 21.4 210 4.49 142 136 1.54 0.14 85 556.4
Joe Mixon 20.5 226 4.45 120 106 1.25 0.14 82 614.2

Saquon Barkley doesn’t make the list because he hasn’t been in the league for three years, but he would come in with a 92.

LaMichael James was drafted later than the rest of this group and ran into injury issues in the NFL. Every other member scored at least 550 points over their first three seasons. The list is littered with current and former first-round dynasty startup picks.

AJ Dillon

Dillon’s pre-combine perception was a head scratcher. He’s a Derrick Henry clone, but a version with an earlier breakout and far more career production. Check out his top comps according to the Box Score Scout.

Last week I suggested Dillon would jump 100 spots in best ball ADP, and that already appears to be happening.

Among Dynasty Command Center contributors, I had the most enthusiastic Dillon ranking in Volume 1 of the Rookie Guide. He’ll climb a few more spots in Volume 2.

Cam Akers

Akers entered Florida State as the top-ranked prospect who would challenge Dalvin Cook’s historic production. He departed having carried the load during the proud program’s collapse. Running a sub-4.5 forty was the first step in rehabbing that value.

The Combine Explorer helps us calibrate our expectations by providing a prospect’s 20 closest athletic comps. For most players, these comps reiterate just how difficult it is to translate impressive athleticism into an NFL career. In Akers’ case, we see a list peppered with current and former fantasy stars.

This is the Goldilocks Zone for successful RBs. Akers’ comps include famous names like Marshawn Lynch, LaDainian Tomlinson, Cadillac Williams, and Joseph Addai. It’s also peppered with current names like Miles Sanders, Marlon Mack, and Damien Williams.

Akers will push for inclusion in the area with Swift and Dobbins, setting up a possible surprise on draft weekend.

Losers

D’Andre Swift

In a vacuum, there was nothing wrong with Swift’s combine. He logged a 4.48 in the forty and jumped to a 75th percentile result in the broad. But Swift comes up short in the battle with Taylor and other historically elite prospects. He’s significantly smaller than Taylor, and for a back with some LeSean McCoy to his game, it was a disappointment that he opted not to challenge McCaffrey’s epic 6.57 three-cone.

These minor red flags combine with a more limited production resume to give a poor score in the Lab. I would still love to land Swift in any format, but these concerns carry over to the BSS even when we juice the comps by entering a draft slot of 25. Darrell Henderson, Glen Coffee, and David Wilson are names that might give you pause when deliberating with the 1.02.

Zack Moss

Moss finished below the 50th percentile in every drill he attempted. His 4.65 forty provided the exclamation point on a frustrating day.

The 2019 combine torpedoed early-round enthusiasm for Benny Snell, a disconcerting development for Moss who has the former Kentucky star as one of his closest physical comps.

Of course, Moss still ranks fourth in the Lab, in part due to his 14% receiving share at 226 pounds. With a poor shuttle time, the Utah prospect doesn’t look quite like Le’Veon Bell – who posted a 96th percentile three-cone at 230 pounds – but he does have names like James Conner and David Montgomery pop up in his BSS comps. If Montgomery can follow Conner’s path to a second-year breakout, this would be an encouraging duo for Moss to follow.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

After one of the best hybrid seasons in recent memory, Edwards-Helaire’s disappointing size/speed profile reinforces his one-year-wonder status in a negative way. Early breakouts are important for RBs, and he will now face more questions about whether he was mostly a product of LSU’s unstoppable offense.

Room for optimism still exists. The 39.5-inch vertical places him in a surprisingly capable group of small, slow, but explosive backs. Edwards-Helaire and Eno Benjamin can both hope to be the next Aaron Jones.

We only have to look to last season to find a back in Devin Singletary who overcame size/speed concerns to post an impressive rookie season.

The NFL Draft Is Next

We’ll have our next update after the NFL reality event. In the meantime, we’ll have dynasty rankings updates, mock drafts, player profiles, and a deeper discussion of the comps from our various tools. For even more advanced stats and rookie mocks that include Superflex and TE Premium, be sure to purchase the Dynasty Command Center Rookie Guide. Volume 2 will be out soon, with Volume 3 after the NFL Draft.

The new version of the RB Prospect Lab features a host of upgrades, including the ability to create your own model and to play with hypothetical draft slot scenarios.

  • The pre-draft model I used today includes age, weight, 40 time, Power 5, career all-purpose yards, final rushing attempts and yards, final all-purpose TDs, and final market share of receiving yards.
  • My projections are for a player’s total points in his first three seasons, but you can also opt for PPG for either the first three seasons or the best season. 
  • If you prefer a simple model or are using the Lab on mobile, you may prefer the RB Prospect Lab Lite.

Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.
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