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The Five Best Running Back Landing Spots From The NFL Draft

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

The NFL Draft has come to a close and we have some interesting new homes for these rookie Running Backs. Here I will rank the top five best situations of all the rookie Running Backs drafted in 2023.

Top Five Running Back Landing Spots

  1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

  2. Chase Brown, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

  3. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions

  4. Devon Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

  5. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tennessee Titans

1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons. Round One, Pick Eight in the NFL Draft

Bijan Robinson not only is the most talented Running Back in this draft class, but he also found himself going to the best situation. The Atlanta Falcons ran the ball on 55.29% of their plays. That was the second-highest rate of any team in the NFL last season. The Falcons’ head coach, Arthur Smith, has shown an affinity for running the ball and after drafting the most talented RB with the eighth overall pick in the NFL Draft, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Bijan Robinson joins Tyler Allgeier, Caleb Huntley, and Cordarrelle Patterson in the Atlanta backfield. Tyler Allgeier was drafted in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft while Caleb Huntley went undrafted in that same draft class. Cordarrelle Patterson is now 32 years old and will be used less in the running game than he was in the past two years for the Falcons.

Atlanta handed the ball to one of their Running Backs 454 times last year. If Bijan gets a modest 60% of that workload, he will end up with 272 attempts from the backfield. Last year that would have been good for fifth-best in the league behind only Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs.

Each of those four running backs finished in the top six for Fantasy Points Per Game. This is some great company for Bijan to be surrounded by as he looks to capitalize on his great landing spot in year one of his NFL career.

2. Chase Brown, RB, Cincinnati Bengals. Round Five, Pick 28 in the NFL Draft

With the 163rd pick in the NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select Chase Brown. With a lot of Running Back needy teams already taking their guy at this point in the draft, this is the best scenario Chase Brown could’ve hoped for. Now a fifth-round selection historically doesn’t show a high level of commitment from the team to the players selected there, but Chase Brown will start the first four years of his NFL career on one of the best offenses there is in football.

The only back that is firmly in front of Brown on the depth chart right now is Joe Mixon. Mixon is currently facing a first-degree misdemeanor charge for an incident that took place on January 21st, where Mixon was reported to have been pointing a firearm in a woman’s face.

The report states that Mixon said, “You should be popped in the face, I should shoot you. The police can’t get me.” (Per nfl.com/news/bengals-rb-joe-mixon-recharged-with-misdemeanor-aggravated-menacing). If Mixon faces charges this year or the Bengals decide to release Mixon from the team, Chase Brown would immediately emerge as the front runner as the lead back for the Bengals.

Brown showed that he can handle a workhorse workload in his final year at The University of Illinois, where he received 329 rushing attempts and had 27 receptions. He also has speed for his 209-pound frame, running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash. That 40-time puts him in the 85th percentile of Running Backs. If he is given the opportunity, look for him to run away with the lead RB role in an extremely potent offense.

3. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions. Round One, Pick 12 in the NFL Draft

If you haven’t already, check out the video below, captured from the Detroit Lions draft room when they drafted Jahmyr Gibbs. That video and the draft capital spent on Jahmyr Gibbs really says a lot about the Lions’ excitement to bring in the young Alabama prospect and Gibbs should be just as happy as he’s coming into an excellent situation.

The Detroit Lions Offensive Line is young and already ranked as the 9th-best run-blocking unit in 2022 (per PFF). Their Left Tackle, Penei Sewell, finished as the sixth-best run blocker at his position and is only 22 years old. Center, Frank Ragnow finished as the fifth-best run-blocker at his position, and is about to turn 27 in two weeks. The Lions’ two starting Guards are both under 27 years old as well, and each finished inside the top 20 run-blockers at their position. This Offensive Line is elite and showed that by allowing the Lions to run for 23 touchdowns last season. Only the Cowboys and Eagles ran for more in 2022.

This year the Lions parted ways with the two running backs they used most last season. D’Andre Swift was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on Day 3 of the NFL Draft while Jamaal Williams walked away in Free Agency this off-season. Jamaal Williams led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season with 17. That is 4 more than the next-highest player.

They did bring in former Chicago Bears RB, David Montgomery on a 3-year, 18 million-dollar contract. David Montgomery is assumed to take over as the goal line back and could receive more work than Gibbs between the tackles as he is 26 pounds heavier. However, with Gibbs’ explosiveness and speed, he can easily make up for it with big plays and his pass-catching ability.


When @Jahmyr_Gibbs1 got the 📞 pic.twitter.com/BEdRFlIu3c — Detroit Lions (@Lions) April 28, 2023

4. Devon Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins. Round Three, Pick 21 of the NFL Draft

Devon Achane landed on the best team for his skill set. The Miami Dolphins prioritize speed in this offense and they got the fastest Running Back in this draft class. With a 40-yard time of 4.32 seconds (98th percentile), Achane is a big play waiting to happen. He recorded at least one play of 20+ yards in 82% of his games played in his last two years at Texas A&M. Achane will fit right into the Dolphins’ scheme as they prioritize big play ability.

One of the questions people will have about Achane is his size. His measurements came in at 5’8” ¾ and 188 pounds. That is very light for an NFL running back, however as highlighted above, he can do a lot with a little. Achane will not be the RB in this class to get 15+ carries a game, but he will be involved in plays that are schemed to have opportunities for large chunk plays.

The Dolphins run a West Coast offense and utilize a lot of pre-snap movement. The West Coast offense tries to spread defenses out wide with the formations they use. This and the pre-snap motion can create a lot of confusion and mismatches and often generates big plays in the running game.

When you have threats like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle at Wide Receiver, you need to have help in the secondary to prevent big passing plays. This keeps teams from loading players in the box and stopping the run. With defenses having to pick their poison, Devon Achane will have plenty of opportunities to create big plays with his track-level speed.

5. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tennessee Titans. Round Three, Pick 18 of the NFL Draft

Tyjae Spears landed in one of the best long-term situations there is in football right now. He will be behind Derrick Henry for the first year of his NFL career. However, “King” Henry is on the final year of his contract and there have already been trade rumors circling the 2019 and 2020 Rushing Title winner. If Henry were to get traded this year, this would set up Spears with a massive workload for 2023 as there is little depth behind him. Tyjae Spears handled a big workload at Tulane where he had 231 rushing attempts for 1,586 rushing yards. That came out to a very effecient 6.9 yards per attempt.

Now I would say how that shows that Spears can handle a big workload and that shouldn’t change in the NFL but unfortunately, on the day of the draft, Ian Rapaport reported that he does not have an ACL and does have arthritis in his knees. This causes speculation that he may not make it through his rookie contract.

This was devastating news. First and foremost, you feel for the player. This young man just made it to the NFL to pursue his dreams. It can’t feel good to finally make it all the way to the league, just to have it reported on draft night that you may not make it through your first contract.

As for dynasty managers, this means that you should avoid him in early rounds of your rookie drafts and only take him at a discount. Aim to grab Spears in the late third round or early fourth round. Despite a clear path ahead of him to be a strong contributor, we’ve seen other talented Running Back’s value nosedive because of potential injury worries. The most recent stud RB that went through something similar was Todd Gurley.

Honorable Mention: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Dallas Cowboys. Round Six, Pick 35 of the NFL Draft

This isn’t the best landing spot for NFL or fantasy football purposes, this is just an awesome story. Deuce Vaughn’s father Chris Vaughn has worked as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys since 2017. When the Cowboys agreed to draft his son, he was overwhelmed with joy. Below are two videos where you can watch the moment that happened. Just a great moment for anyone to watch as a father, son, or football fan.


Here’s the emotional reaction in the Cowboys’ war room when the team used the 212th overall pick in the sixth round on Kansas St. RB Deuce Vaughn, son of Cowboys’ assistant director of college scouting, Chris Vaughn. pic.twitter.com/wC5dWw7IJp — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2023

This video of the phone call from Cowboys assistant director of college scouting Chris Vaughn to his son – Kansas State RB Deuce Vaughn – when the team picked him today is so awesome. The pride and emotion Chris shows is everything. (🎥: @dallascowboys) pic.twitter.com/kBbtExtUjH — Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 30, 2023
 

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