Pittsburgh Panthers running back Israel Abanikanda put together a breakout season during the 2022 college football season and did enough to show himself he’s ready for a shot at the NFL. He was a touchdown-scoring machine in college, and it will be interesting to see how he translates to the next level.
Abanikanda rushed for 1,431 yards with 239 attempts last fall, which is six yards per carry, and he added 20 touchdowns on the ground. In the passing game, he caught 12 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown.
Israel Abanikanda: Scouting Report
Abanikanda projects to have an impact at the NFL level with the skill set he showed in college. He can be used on early downs with ideal size, standing at 5-foot-10 and 216 pounds. When Abanikanda gets going, he can be a real threat to take it to the house with his speed.
If you’re looking for reasons to stay away from Abanikanda, he doesn’t have a ton of value as a third-down back at this point, but that can be fixed with more experience. He could also use work in his ability to change directions, which will be important to his development as a pro.
Mock Draft landing spots
CBS’ Ryan Palmer sees Abanikanda heading to the Bengals in the sixth round. The Athletic mocks him to the Eagles as early as the third round while NFL.com has the Cowboys taking him in the third round, as well.
Fantasy football implications
Abanikanda could certainly have fantasy football value in his first season in the NFL depending on where he lands. He is too talented to keep off the field even if he isn’t the guy right away. Abanikanda’s speed separates him from other backs and if he gets a decent workload, he’s worthy of fantasy consideration.
The Bengals would be an interesting spot for Abanikanda to land, although no one else seems to think that he will fall far enough to still be available when Cincy is looking for a running back. With Semaje Perine gone and Joe Mixon dealing with off-the-field legal issues, Abanikanda could be a rare late-round rookie RB who makes a quick impact.
Since he’s projected to go much earlier elsewhere, though, let’s take a look at how his fantasy season could play out in other destinations. He would be behind Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell in a run-heavy Philadelphia offense that would allow him to see some snaps. Any RB on that offense is worth taking a look at for fantasy consideration.
A spot on the Cowboys would place him behind Tony Pollard, who is returning from a major leg injury that may introduce limitations to this game. If Dallas grabs Abanikanda, he could make a fantasy impact there as a rookie, too.