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The top 10 running back prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft class

The Panthers just paid Christian McCaffrey a lot of money, but does that stop them from drafting a potential No. 2 running back in this year’s draft?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The running back class in this year’s upcoming draft doesn’t have a standout prospect who is being projected to go in the top 10 of the draft, but there are some quality prospects who can excel as rushers and receivers. Let’s dive into the rankings.

1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

This may come off as controversial for many, but when I watch Edwards-Helaire he displays some of the best receiving traits among running backs in this class. It’s well known that backs who provide value in the passing game are more useful. He is a sharp route runner out of the backfield showing the ability to control his movements, sink his hips, and then burst.

In addition to that, Edwards-Helaire is a fine runner too. He rarely gets caught in the backfield, constantly makes defenders miss, and he plays low to the ground which allows him to be elusive.

Projection: Round 2 pick

2. Jonathan Taylor

Taylor had elite production and tested like an elite athlete at the Combine. Taylor will have to answer questions about his effectiveness as a pass catcher, but he’s one of the best rushers in this class.

He is consistently running through arm tackles, displaying good vision, and making defenders look silly at the second level.

Projection: Round 2 pick

3. JK Dobbins

Dobbins is an explosive athlete who displays good vision. He doesn’t waste any movement before the line of scrimmage, which is why he rarely loses yards. Dobbins also has a variety of filthy moves he unleashes when he gets to the second level.

The biggest question for Dobbins as he enters the league is how is he going to create explosive plays? Ohio State’s scheme and offensive line made his job easier and no doubt he took advantage of it, but there’s still plenty of uncertainty.

Projection: Round 2/3 pick

4. D’Andre Swift

Swift is a very powerful runner. He runs hard, drives his legs through contact to churn more yards, and he has a decent skill set as a receiver. However, there are too many times when he’s asked to change direction and he can’t. He’s too much of a linear or straight line athlete. He does have a solid jump cut, but he needs more moves in his arsenal if he’s going to succeed as an every down back.

Projection: Round 3 pick

5. Cam Akers

Cam Akers was one of my favorite prospects to watch at Florida State. He was constantly productive despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the country. Not only did Akers test well at the Combine, but his athleticism as a runner is always on display.

This could be viewed as a positive and a negative, but Akers’ penchant for searching for contact and lowering his helmet was a big part of his game. Akers doesn’t have great vision or anticipation to read holes. He does offer value in the passing game though. I was impressed with his role as a pass blocker.

Projection: Round 3 pick

6. Antonio Gibson

Gibson was severely under utilized at Memphis, but when he did touch the ball he produced. He might get labeled as a tweener, but his versatility is exactly how running backs should be utilized. He’s effective as a punt/kick returner, good receiver, and can create explosive plays as a runner.

Projection: Round 4 pick

7. Eno Benjamin

Eno Benjamin has a solid all around skill set who plays with high effort. Benjamin also shows positive value as a pass catcher. He has good hands and he runs effective routes. He has below average vision and his footwork before the line of scrimmage can cause him issues.

Projection: Round 4/5 pick

8. Zack Moss

Moss was a productive runner for the Utah Utes, but he has concerns about his vision and athleticism. Too many times he can get caught choosing to bounce the run outside, which won’t work in the NFL. Moss does provide value in the pass game. He is a good blocker who understands angles, squares his body, and get his hands on defenders.

Projection: Round 5 pick

9. Darrynton Evans

Evans’ tape was surprisingly fun. He was a slippery runner who bounces off contact, accelerates in the open field, and shows good vision. Evans has versatility on special teams as he returned three kicks for touchdowns during his career at Appalachian State.

Evans is likely not going to become a primary bell cow, but if he lands on a team who approaches a running back by committee approach then he will excel.

Projection: Round 5 pick

10. A.J Dillon

The former Boston College product is an old school running back. So much of his game reminds me of former Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart due to his athleticism, play strength, and acceleration.

Dillon is too much of a straight line runner and runs too high. He also doesn’t provide much value in the passing game, but if a team creates a well defined role for him similar to how the Philadelphia Eagles used Jordan Howard, then he will have a solid career.

Projection: Round 5 pick

Do you like any of these prospects as a backup to Christian McCaffrey? If so, which ones?