NFL Draft News & Analysis

2020 NFL Draft: Player comps for PFF's top running backs

We’ve been rolling through positional comps all week, and now it’s finally time to hit the running backs. I haven’t been forcing comps for some of the top guys at quarterback and receiver if none made sense, but most of the top running backs have a predecessor with similar traits. 

[Editor's note: Check out player comps for PFF's top quarterbacks and top wide receivers and tight ends.]

D’Andre Swift: Pierre Thomas

Swift’s calling card is his ability as a receiver out of the backfield. Swift is obviously a bit more explosive than Thomas was, but the natural receiving ability and shake in their routes is similar. Thomas was an incredibly productive player for the Saints despite being a UDFA out of Illinois back in 2007. He caught more than 50 balls in three different seasons for New Orleans and broke 20-plus tackles after the catch four times.

Zack Moss: Kareem Hunt

With everyone losing their minds about Zack Moss’ 4.65 40 at the combine, it’s easy to forget that Hunt only ran a 4.62 at seven pounds lighter than Moss. Both Moss and Hunt are built low to the Earth and put up incredible broken tackle numbers in college. Hunt broke 76 tackles on 261 carries his final year at Toledo, while Moss broke 89 tackles on 234 carries this past season.

Jonathan Taylor: DeMarco Murray

Murray was a bit smaller coming out at 213 compared to Taylor’s 226 but quickly got up to a listed 220 in the NFL. It’s easy to forget that Murray came into the league with 4.41 speed and a devastating stiff arm. He wasn’t the type to shake a defender in the hole, and neither is Taylor. Both are power runners with ideal size to have defenders bounce off their legs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Ray Rice

Rice was a weapon in the Ravens passing attack on angle routes for years, and Edwards-Helaire was no different in LSU’s offense this past season. Neither possesses anything special in the speed department, but that’s not where they win. Short-area quicks is their game — and that translates extremely well to the NFL. Rice went over 700 receiving yards in three straight seasons from 2009-2011.

J.K. Dobbins: Ryan Mathews

Mathews possessed ideal size (6-foot, 220) and speed (4.37 40) coming out of Fresno State back in 2010. It’s a big reason why he was the 12th overall pick that year. Dobbins doesn’t quite have that level of speed, but he’s not too far off. Both have terrific balance for the position as well. Mathews was stuck behind some rough offensive lines in San Diego early in his career — hopefully that won’t be the case for Dobbins.

Cam Akers: Terrance West

Both have all the size and athleticism in the world but come with one glaring concern: vision. West was the king of the bounce-out when he first got to the NFL, which is why he struggled to see playing time despite being a high draft pick for the Browns. Akers played behind an awful offensive line but also failed to maximize many runs as he opted for the home run chance too often. It’s something that can be coached, but concerning nonetheless.

Antonio Gibson: Ty Montgomery

There truly isn’t a great comp for Gibson. Like Montgomery, his route-running and ball skills aren’t enough to hack it at receiver full-time, but they're above average for a running back. Both players have thick running back builds. Gibson’s speed is special for a 225-plus pound back, as he went sub 4.4 at the combine. It’s incredible that he didn’t see the field more, as everything we've seen from him suggests he’s one of the top backs in the class.

A.J. Dillon: Brandon Jacobs

The truck stick was introduced into Madden for players like Dillon and Jacobs. Jacobs reportedly ran a 4.44 at the combine back in 2005 at 6-foot-4, 267 pounds. He also had a disastrous 7.53 cone and 4.46 shuttle. Dillon wasn’t quite as straight-line fast, with a 4.53 at 247 pounds, but he's a little more agile with a 7.19 cone. They’re both a defensive back's worst nightmare once they get up to full speed, but both are toast if they ever have to come to a complete stop. 

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