2020 Fantasy Football Running Back Prospects part II

By John Laub
John Laub

 

 

   2020 Running Back Prospects

 

        Ranking the Runners part II

 

 

 

 

7. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt

An undervalued runner in the Draft after a productive two-year tenure at Vanderbilt. Senior year of high school, named “Mr. Football” in Tennessee. Enrolled at Illinois and two-year letterman after rushing for 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns. Afterwards, transferred to Vanderbilt and remained on the sidelines for the 2017 campaign. As a redshirt junior in 2018, rambled for over 1,200 yards and crossed the finish line 14 times. Finished second in the SEC in rushing and eclipsed 100 yards in a game five times. The Commodores’ offense bottomed out last year and the ground game suffered. Nevertheless, Vaughn posted back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns despite poor blocking up front. At 5-foot-10 and 214 pounds, an impact power back with the tools and traits to be a productive professional. Constantly churns feet and fights through contact. High-caliber vision. Elusive in a phone booth. Employs jump cuts to find holes. Explodes through small creases. Swift change of direction ability. Nasty stiff arm to escape tacklers. Runs with passion, fortitude and never-say-die attitude. Stunning leg strength. Holds onto the football well. Projects as a three-down back at the next level. At times, impatient runner and gets frustrated when teammates play poorly. Does not make tacklers whiff in space. Needs to improve pass blocking. Occasionally, seeks to bounce plays outside in search of a home run. A stupendous value selection in the third round for a franchise seeking depth in the backfield with starter potential.

 

 

Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 3,296

Yards per Carry: 5.8

Receptions: 66

2019 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,298

Team Scrimmage Yards Distribution: 36%

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.51

3-Cone Drill: n/a

20-yard Shuttle: n/a

Draft Grade: Third round

 

8. Eno Benjamin, Arizona State

As a sophomore and first-year starter in 2018, breakout player who exploded onto the national scene: Named All-American Third Team and established school record with 1,642 rushing yards. Career-best 312 rushing yards on 30 carries and three touchdowns versus Oregon State. Disappointing 2019 campaign with only 1,083 rushing yards. Logged back-to-back seasons with double-digit touchdowns and registered 11 career 100-yard rushing games. In high school, named Texas AP Class 5A All-State First team and Offensive Player of the Year. As a freshman, enrolled in school early and participated in spring practices. A 5-foot-9 and 207-pounder who has work horse traits despite less than ideal size. Determined and angry runner who accelerates through hole with burst. Excellent vision, quick feet and rapidly changes direction. Shifty and elusive runner with a compact frame. Low to the ground ball carrier with stupendous lower-body strength. Employs a very good jump-spin move. Stupendous burst and lateral quickness. Flaming footwork and cutting ability. Buries shoulder and pads into the chest of defenders upon impact. Beats tacklers to the edge of the defense. Lacks home run pop. Liability as a pass blocker and not a natural hands catcher. Lacks prototypical frame to be a bell cow back as a professional. Versatile runner who can be employed in a gap or zone scheme and projects as a rotational role on a team.

Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 2,867

Yards per Carry: 5.0

Receptions: 82

2019 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,430

Team Scrimmage Yards Distribution: 30%

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.57

3-Cone Drill: 6.97

20-yard Shuttle: 4.25

Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

 

9. Joshua Kelley, UCLA

Eye-opening Senior Bowl workouts and better-than-anticipated athletic ability at Combine propels the former Bruins’ ball carrier up rankings. In high school, a track-and-field competitor and ran in the 4x100 relay team. Originally enrolled at UC Davis (FCS level) and played two seasons: Rushed for 1,139 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Transferred to UCLA, walked onto the team and sat out the 2017 campaign. Started nine games in 2018, recorded the tenth-best, single-season, rushing-yard mark (1,243) in school history and earned First Team All-PAC 12. Became the eighth player in school history to log consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaigns. At 5-foot-10 and 212 pounds, patient runner with excellent vision and balance. Tough between the tackles: Allows blocks to develop and identifies cut back lanes. Big frame and broad shoulders. Runs upright and North-South downhill courier. Pushes pile in short yardage and constantly falls forward. Presses hole and blasts through it. Scoots through arms tackles. Squares pads, lowers head and packs a punch upon impact. Straight-line ball carrier: Does not easily changes direction. A dearth of wiggle. Very good ball security. Passive run blocker. A power-run scheme best fits Kelley’s skill set. A nice day three selection for an astute franchise in the Draft.

Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 2,303

Yards per Carry: 5.1

Receptions: 38

2019 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,131

Team Scrimmage Yards Distribution: 23%

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.49

3-Cone Drill: 6.95

20-yard Shuttle: 4.28

Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

10. Zack Moss, Utah

Highly-ranked senior running back in the Class of 2020. In 2019, PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year, First Team All-PAC-12 and First Team PFF All-America. Semifinalist for Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Established six school career records: carries (712), rushing yards, 100-yard rushing games (18), rushing touchdowns (38), all-purpose plays (778) and total touchdowns (41). First player in program history to post three straight 1,000-yard rushing campaigns. In 2018, Second Team All-PAC-12. Cousin of former NFL wide receiver Santana Moss. A 5-foot-10, 222-pounder who wallops tacklers. Patient and instinctive runner with good burst through traffic. Anticipates O-line opening a crease, and effortlessly, blasts through it. Excels in tight quarters. Presses line of scrimmage and plants foot to change direction. Noble lateral quickness. Embraces contact, lowers shoulder and gets small to enhance raw power. Exceptional contact balance and short-area acceleration. Very good in space. Better hands than expected and adjusts well to poorly thrown passes. Good pass-pro IQ: Anchors well and strong base. Lacks creativity and average long speed. Limited ability to bounce play outside. Sustained a season-ending knee injury in November 2018 and endured a shoulder injury throughout the 2019 crusade. Unfortunately, did not participate in the Senior Bowl. Poor Combine illustrated lack of elite athlete ability. Despite lack of top-end speed, will impact an NFL roster.

Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 4,067

Yards per Carry: 5.7

Receptions: 66

2019 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,804

Team Scrimmage Yards Distribution: 30%

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.72

3-Cone Drill: n/a

20-yard Shuttle: 4.37

Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

11. Anthony McFarland, Maryland

Marvelous Maryland game breaker leaves campus early to pursue professional dreams. In 2018, Second Team All-Big Ten and Freshmen All-American after scampering for a freshmen school-record 1,034 yards and four touchdowns. Against Ohio State, incredible performance with two touchdowns over 70 yards and 298 yards rushing. High-ankle sprain hampered 2019 crusade, rushing for only 614 yards and eight touchdowns. Missed senior year of high school with broken leg and redshirted freshman year at Maryland. Chose the Terrapins over Alabama, Penn State, Miami and Georgia. A 5-foot-8 and 208-pound jitterbug with a well-muscled and compact frame. Slips and slides through traffic with animated feet. Employs multiple cuts to elude defenders and find small creases. Accelerates in a flash: Runs away from tacklers in the open field. Rambles with passion and purpose between the hash marks. Bounces plays outside and bursts downfield. Above average contact balance. Good wheel-route pass catcher but limited as a receiver. Never a bell cow ball carrier: Only toted pigskin over 14 times in just four games during campus tenure. Lacks creativity for a smaller runner. Too often whiffed in passed protection. Must overcome the so-called “injury” label to reach NFL ceiling.

Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 1,648

Yards per Carry: 6.7

Receptions: 24

2019 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 740

Team Scrimmage Yards Distribution: 18%

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.44

3-Cone Drill: n/a

20-yard Shuttle: n/a

Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

 

12. Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State

At Combine, the redshirt junior logged the second-best 40-yard dash time among runners, and football diehards forced to watch more film in order to assess skills and potential. In 2019, First Team All-Sun Belt and Offensive Player of the Year: Produced 2,064 All-purpose yards with 1,480 rushing, 198 receiving and 386 returning kickoffs. Also, scored 24 times. In 2018, First Team All-Sun Belt and rushed for over 100 yards in seven of last nine games. Two-time Sun Belt Championship Game MVP and MVP of the 2019 New Orleans Bowl. Over the past two seasons, totaled 11 runs over 50 yards and concluded campus tenure with 4,642 All-purpose yards and returned three kicks for touchdowns. Missed the 2017 season due to knee injury. At 5-foot-10 and 203 pounds, a slasher who excels on the boundary. One-cut, outside-zone game breaker with quick feet and subtle jukes. Stupendous straight-line speed. Creative glider who eludes defenders with lateral cuts. Stacks moves and fakes. A smooth athlete and patient ball carrier with loose hips and agile feet. Never fumbled in 482 career carries. With soft and reliable hands, sneaky pass catcher on screens and wheel routes. Scored five receiving touchdowns on only 21 catches last year. Acute vision and spatial awareness: Exceptional kick returner and special teamer. High football IQ and intelligent in the classroom: Named top scholar among Sun Belt football players. Not a between-the-tackles thumper. Must improve pass blocking and blitz pickup. An underrated ball carrier who provides a franchise with backfield depth.

Key Career Stats

Rushing Yards: 2,884

Yards per Carry: 6.0

Receptions: 25

2019 Season

Yards from Scrimmage: 1,678

Team Scrimmage Yards Distribution: 28%

Breakaway Ability

40-yard Dash: 4.41

3-Cone Drill: n/a

20-yard Shuttle: n/a

Draft Grade: Fourth round

 

It is John Laub’s seventh year publishing The Scholar’s Study Sheets: NFL Draft Prospects. With his Masters in history and professional experience as an educator, Laub is uniquely qualified to research, analyze and discover new insights and trends in college and professional football. Laub has played fantasy football over thirty years and published articles for FootballDiehards.com for well over 25 years. He won $10,000 in 1993, defeating nearly 15,000 owners, and published Audibles: Winning is Everything in the 1990s. He truly is The Gridiron Scholar.

Twitter: @GridironSchol91 or e-mail: Audibles@aol.com