2023 NFL draft big board: Running backs

Kicking off the positional rankings with the very deep running back position.

It’s a good year to need a running back. Whatever type of back a team might want to augment the backfield, there are multiple appealing options in the draft class of 2023 — and some guys who don’t project to be drafted but still have viable skills.

These are my personal, overall rankings. There are cases where a player ranked lower overall makes for a better fit with a certain team than someone listed above him here. The draft projections won’t match the order in which these prospects are ranked.

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Without further ado, the 2023 RBs:

1. Bijan Robinson, Texas

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Robinson is an elite-level prospect, a complete package of size, strength, speed, vision and passing game ability. Instant-impact talent who can transcend poor blocking as well as any RB in recent memory.

Projection: Top 15 overall

2. Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Gibbs is a speed-in-space back with outstanding receiving skills. He’s a little small (5-9/199) and isn’t great between the tackles. Gibbs should thrive in an outside zone scheme that allows him to read the second-level defender and make him look silly with his acceleration and wiggle.

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Projection: 25-40 overall

3. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Big, fast and physical both between the tackles and in the open field, Charbonnet is a handful to bring down despite not being overly elusive. Bonus points for being an accomplished receiver

Projection: 2nd-early 3rd round

4. Tank Bigsby, Auburn

Hard-charging, physically imposing power back with nice feet in short spaces for a 6-0/210 pounder. Optimally the “thunder” back paired with a “lightning”–think Jamaal Williams.

Projection: Late 2nd-3rd round

5. Devon Achane, Texas A&M

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World-class speed is Achane’s calling card, but he’s not soft for being a former track star in a smallish (5-8/188) package. Dangerous receiver, too.

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Projection: 2nd round

6. Eric Gray, Oklahoma

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Gray, a Tennessee transfer, exudes acceleration and agility in his running style. He’s not afraid to lower the shoulder, either. Didn’t help himself with his performance in the passing game during Senior Bowl week, but Gray is capable as a receiver.

Projection: 4th-5th round

7. Tyjae Spears, Tulane

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The shifty Senior Bowl star brings electrifying footwork and instant acceleration. Good enough receiving skills to be a starting slot WR. Excellent in space, but not at all in tight quarters, as a runner.

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8. Sean Tucker, Syracuse

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

When Tucker is decisive and aggressive, he’s deserving to be higher than No. 8 in the rankings. Didn’t do that as often in 2022 as he did in a fantastic 2021, and Tucker is nothing more than functional in the passing game.

Projection: 3rd-4th round

9. Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Abanikanda does a great job maximizing what’s blocked for him as a one-cut runner with some surprising power behind his pads. Good speed but is somewhat stiff as a runner and receiver. Reminds me more than a little of Chicago’s Khalil Herbert.

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Projection: 75-100 overall range

10. Roschon Johnson, Texas

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson brings size (6-1/219) but also open-field speed that makes him a major load to bring down. Excellent pass protection skills. Similar running style to former NFLer Jonathan Stewart, but not as fast through the smaller holes.

Projection: 3rd-4th round

The rest

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11. Chase Brown, Illinois

12. Kenny McIntosh, Georgia

13. DeWayne McBride, UAB

14. Evan Hull, Northwestern

15. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota

16. Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina

17. Kendre Miller, TCU

18. Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky

19. Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State

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20. Lew Nichols, Central Michigan

21. Jordan Mims, Fresno State

22. Tiyon Evans, Louisville

23. Deneric Prince, Tulsa

24. SaRodorick Thompson, Texas Tech

25. Khalan Laborn, Marshall

Story originally appeared on Draft Wire