The running backs available for the 2023 NFL draft class are extremely diverse and present a variety of game-changing skill sets.
The 2023 draft class features great depth at a lot of positions, but none quite like that of the running backs. From arguably the most complete prospect in the entire draft, to some of the greatest college producers in recent memory, this group is chock-full of desirable NFL talent. What really cements this position group as the most impressive of the bunch is the honorable mentions outside of the top 10. Back-to-back consensus All-American Deuece Vaughn is on the outside looking in alongside a number of perennial All-Conference selections.
There is real potential for a running back to be taken as high as we’ve seen since Saquon Barkley was chosen by the Giants at No. 2 overall in 2018, and there is a very real chance that we’ll see two off the board in the first round. Seven of the top-10 running backs to follow are sure-fire top-100 prospects and have awesome potential to make an impact in their rookie seasons. With all that said, let’s get into this year’s top running backs.
Who are the 10 best running backs available in the NFL draft?
10. Tank Bigsby, Auburn
Tank Bigsby unironically sounds like an autogenerated running back from year five of a Madden franchise. He lived up to his name perfectly in three years at Auburn, amassing over 2,900 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on 540 carries. After his sophomore season was highlighted by over 1,100 rushing yards, Bigsby was lauded as a top-10 back ahead of the 2022 college season, and he lived up to it. He rounds out the bottom of the list, however, for two reasons.
Firstly, 540 carries in three years of SEC competition is significant mileage for a running back. It’s unfair to condemn a prospect for high volume in college, and Bigsby wasn’t even the most highly used running back in this class. Hell, Derrick Henry had 395 carries in his junior season at Alabama and he’s held up just fine in the league. Not everyone is blessed with longevity, though, and Tank’s usage in college is something to be considered ahead of draft day.
Secondly, and this is truly unfair, Bigsby was legitimately the centerpiece of the Tigers’ offense. That makes no sense as a knock without context, so here it is. I don’t believe there is an NFL team with a system capable of deploying him in the way that he was at Auburn, which makes it difficult to project his potential as a pro. He lined up in the wildcat and was used in jet sweeps — his high-volume usage was very creative and it is unlikely that his role at Auburn can be replicated in the league.
One major positive in his scouting report — and there are plenty of them, don’t get it twisted — is the diversity of Auburn’s offense. The Tigers are balanced in their blocking scheme, splitting fairly even looks between zone and gap concepts. In theory, Bigsby could go run in any system. It will come down to a matter of how durable a team expects him to be, and how much production they feel he can have as a pure runner.
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