- Bijan Robinson had an all-time season this past year: The Texas running back recorded a 95.3 grade in 2022, the second-best mark of the PFF College era.
- Deuce Vaughn was the highest-graded in two seasons: The Kansas State running back may be small in stature, but he was the highest-graded running back from the 2023 NFL Draft in both 2021 and 2020.
- Xazavian Valladay led the way in 2019: Before transferring to Arizona State, Valladay was the highest-graded running back in the 2023 draft in 2019 while at Wyoming.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The 2023 NFL Draft is nearly a month away, making it almost time for teams to start finalizing their grades on prospects.
Here’s a look back at the highest-graded running backs who are eligible to be picked in this year’s draft by season.
- 1. Bijan Robinson, Texas Longhorns: 95.3
- 2. DeWayne McBride, UAB Blazers: 94.1
- 3. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA Bruins: 91.5
Robinson is the best running back prospect since at least Saquon Barkley thanks to being one of the most prolific tackle-breakers PFF has ever seen. His 39% career forced missed tackle rate is tied with Javonte Williams for the best since we began charting college football in 2014. Robinson’s 104 forced missed tackles in 2022 were the most in a single season in the PFF College era as well. His 95.3 grade in 2022 was the second-highest we’ve seen by an FBS running back, trailing only Blake Corum that same season.
Highest-graded seasons by an FBS running back in the PFF College era (Since 2014)
|Javonte Williams||North Carolina||2020||94.3|
He’s the top running back prospect on PFF’s big board and is the rare one worthy of a first-round selection.
Prospect | Bijan Robinson
Position | Running Back
Height | 6’0”
Weight | 220
Positional rank | 1st
Round Grade | 1st round
539 carries | 3,410 rush YD’s | 33 rush TD’s
60 receptions | 805 rec YD’s | 8 rec TD’s
• My highest graded RB prospect since Saquon Barkley. pic.twitter.com/annKdwt9Xt
— CFBLIVE247 (@CFBLive247_) January 27, 2023
- 1. Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State Wildcats: 91.6
- 2. Devon Achane, Texas A&M Aggies: 90.3
- 3. DeWayne McBride, UAB Blazers: 89.9
Vaughn was the second-highest-graded running back in 2021, only trailing Dameon Pierce. That year, Vaughn was an incredible chain-mover, as his 21 receiving first downs/touchdowns ranked second among all backs in the country while his 74 rushing first downs/touchdowns were tied for 11th. Despite standing just 5-foot-5 and 179 pounds, Vaughn is still a top-10 running back prospect on PFF’s big board and is considered a third-round prospect.
Deuce Vaughn makes cuts sometimes that break my brain pic.twitter.com/37fiQcsHm5
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 25, 2023
- 1. Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State Wildcats: 89.0
- 2. Tank Bigsby, Auburn Tigers: 84.1
- 3. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota Golden Gophers: 83.3
Vaughn also led the way in 2020. As a true freshman, his 89.1 receiving grade trailed only Travis Etienne among all FBS running backs. His 369 yards after the catch and 136 receiving yards after contact were behind only Etienne and Najee Harris among Power Five running backs.
In 2 career games vs Texas, Deuce Vaughn has 268 rush yards averaging 7.9 yards per carry 3 TDs and 52 receiving yards pic.twitter.com/HZyWBUxIfG
— Clint The K-State Fan (@Thekstatefan2) November 4, 2022
- 1. Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming Cowboys: 80.9
- 2. Christopher Brooks, California Golden Bears: 77.6
- 3. SaRodorick Thompson, Texas Tech Red Raiders: 77.3
Before transferring to Arizona State in 2022, Valladay spent four years at Wyoming. He posted the seventh-most yards after contact in 2019 among Group of Five running backs (851). Valladay’s 53 rushing first downs/touchdowns that season were the fourth-most in the Mountain West.
For 62 yards @Xfactor4_ breaks away and notches his 6th 100 yard rushing game of the season! #OneWyoming #GoWyo #RideForTheBrand pic.twitter.com/GUgmUlWZsh
— Wyoming Cowboy Football (@wyo_football) January 1, 2020