This is the second in a series of position previews for the 2020 NFL draft, which runs April 23-25. Today: running backs. Read them all here.
THREE NAMES TO KNOW
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: Taylor furthered his case to be the top running back drafted with a blazing 4.39-second 40-yard dash at February’s combine. Home-run speed and prototypical build (5-10, 226 pounds) draw comparisons to Nick Chubb, who led the league in rushing last season for the Browns. Taylor can handle an NFL workload, having eclipsed 300 carries (and 2,000 yards) in each of the past two seasons; but can he catch? Most mocks have him early in the second round.
DeAndre Swift, Georgia: Swift ran through the SEC with 1,218 rushing yards and eight touchdowns despite playing through a shoulder injury. Swift is a patient runner and a perfect match for an NFL zone-blocking scheme. Just five backs ran faster at the combine than his 4.48-second 40-yard dash. Swift showed great hands on routes from out wide and from the backfield. His receiving ability could move him past Taylor.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: Dobbins broke the Buckeyes’ single-season rushing record with 2,003 yards paired with 23 total touchdowns. Projects to be a reliable receiver. A high ankle sprain prevented Dobbins from athletic testing at the combine, leaving teams to judge his speed and elusiveness on film.
Eno Benjamin, Arizona State: Tough to tackle anywhere on the field, Benjamin plays with an intensity and elusive style drawing comparisons to LeSean McCoy. After 1,905 yards from scrimmage in 2018, Benjamin further developed as a receiving threat with a career-high 8.3 yards averaged on 42 catches in the Sun Devils’ spread-option offense.
After Dalvin Cook’s Pro Bowl 2019 season, GM Rick Spielman put Cook in the same breath as Danielle Hunter regarding core players the Vikings want to keep long-term with lucrative contract extensions. The Vikings want to prevent Cook from reaching unrestricted free agency in 2021. The price might be steep. Behind Cook, the Vikings have long-term stability with the second-year tailback Alexander Mattison and fullback C.J. Ham, who is signed through 2023. Last year’s No. 3 back Mike Boone is entering a contract season. The Vikings also re-signed Ameer Abdullah, a third-down option and kick returner.
LEVEL OF NEED
Moderately low: The Vikings’ sixth-ranked rushing attack from last year returns intact. In a deep running back class this year, some undrafted gems might be uncovered.