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2023 NFL Scouting Combine: RBs to watch

We discuss the running backs to watch at the 2023 NFL Combine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Goodyear Cotton Bowl
Tyjae Spears could turn some heads at the NFL Draft Combine.
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Beyond the top two running backs in this year’s class of Texas’ Bijan Robinson and Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, it’s anybody’s guess which other backs will stand out to NFL scouts. As the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is upon us, here is a look at a couple backs who are trending up and trending down, in need of either sustaining or reversing their trend at the Combine.

Who to watch at the NFL Combine: Running backs trending up

Devin Achane, Texas A&M

Achane has the kind of breakaway speed that may blow some scouts away at the Combine. While speed is far from everything for a back, his burst could convince a team to reach for him in the early second, maybe even late first round. That speed could excite scouts to the point he becomes the presumptive No. 3 RB in the class behind Robinson and Gibbs.

Tyjae Spears, Tulane

Spears benefitted from Tulane being so good and pulling off a dramatic comeback win over the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl because that put his incredible 2022 season more in the spotlight. He’s trending as a back-end top-10 back in this year’s class, but a solid Combine and pro day could easily jump him a couple of spots. At 5’11” 195 lbs. with projected 4.40-speed and elite ability as a route runner, Spears could leap as high as the third round with a good showing at the Combine and beyond.

RBs trending down ahead of NFL Draft

Tank Bigsby, Auburn

Where Bigsby was considered among the next backs in the second tier of this year’s class, Bigsby seems to be slipping closer to the third tier. He performed well against top SEC competition this year, but Auburn also ran a run-heavy offense Bigsby won’t see in the NFL. As a bigger, stockier back, it’s hard to project whether he will be the every-down back teams are looking for in the early rounds.

Chase Brown, Illinois

Brown had such a good year at Illinois that he was generating Heisman buzz by year’s end. He has elite field vision and will be a home-run threat for whoever selects him. The question is how effective he will be as a pure runner. With that question still up in the air, Brown is trending out of the top 10 and may have to wait until the middle-to-late rounds to hear his name called.