Ranking the Top 10 RBs in the 2023 NFL Draft

Former Vikings GM
Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs during the second half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2023 NFL Draft fast approaching, it’s time to come up with some official rankings for the prospects at each position. We’ve already gone over the quarterbacks in this class, and today, we will be ranking the top 10 RBs in this year’s draft class.

1. Bijan Robinson

Ranking the Top 10 RBs in the 2023 NFL Draft
Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) celebrates a touchdown during the annual Red River Showdown against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 8, 2022. © Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Bijan Robinson is one of probably three prospects in this draft class that we can somewhat confidently say has the talent to eventually be the best player at his position. The Texas Longhorn product combines agility, power, and speed to be a deadly rusher who can pile up yards in a hurry while being a bear for tacklers to bring down.

For the actual draft, ultimately, it is very rare that we see a player with this much potential at the RB position not turn into at least 80% of what was expected. Don’t be surprised if Robinson goes early on in the first round, and he absolutely has a chance to go in the top 10 as well. Keep an eye on the Falcons at No. 8 overall.

Bijan Robinson scouting report

2. Jahmyr Gibbs

Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) runs the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats during the second half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

While Robinson is the best pure rusher in this class, Gibbs has the best chance to immediately translate into a three-down back at the NFL level. He is on the smaller side at 5’9″, and he measured in at 199 pounds at the combine. However, he can bring terrific speed to the table, and he is the best receiving back in this class as well.

Gibbs should be considered a first-round prospect, and if Robinson goes early in round one, the Alabama product should be on the radar for teams like the Buffalo Bills later on down the board.

3. Zach Charbonnet

Nov 12, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet (24) carries the ball just into the end zone for a touchdown in the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Charbonnet isn’t as elite an athlete as some others on this list, but he makes up for it with outstanding power. He’s also an extremely patient runner, waiting for blocks to develop rather than prematurely forcing the issue.

The biggest concern with Charbonnet at the next level is his lack of acceleration and burst out of the line of scrimmage. If he runs into trouble in the NFL, it will be because he simply isn’t fast enough on the field to get past defenders.

4. Tyjae Spears

Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Tulane Green Wave running back Tyjae Spears (22) runs with the ball against the USC Trojans during the second half in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tyjae Spears is an explosive rusher with quick feet that allow him to change directions effortlessly. He needs to grow in terms of his prowess as a receiver, but he took major steps forward during 2022 and had multiple strong plays at the Senior Bowl this February as a pass-catcher.

Overall, of the RBs behind Robinson and Gibbs, Spears is the prospect that I would pick to become a future star with his skillset. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him taken within the first 75 picks, even in the second round.

Tyjae Spears scouting report

5. Devon Achane

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas A&M
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tough to evaluate Devon Achane considering he was playing behind Texas A&M’s offensive line, one of the worst groups in the country. Despite this hurdle, Achane was one of the more exciting players in college football throughout the year.

Achane is an elite athlete, clocking a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and despite being a smaller back at 5’8 and under 200 pounds, he maintained a strong presence between the tackles with the Aggies. If he can get this to translate to the NFL level, we could have another starting RB on our hands.

6. Deuce Vaughn

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Kansas State at Alabama
Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn (22) runs the ball ahead of Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Eli Ricks (7) for a touchdown during the first half in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Deuce Vaughn is the smallest player we’ve ever seen at the NFL scouting combine, measuring in at 5’5″. This inevitably causes a number of doubts as to how well he will translate to the NFL level, both in terms of talent and durability.

That being said, Vaughn is an elite pass-catcher, and while he probably won’t have much of a role between the tackles, if a team sets up screen passes for him, he can pick up yards in a hurry. It may seem crazy, but he could be a Darren Sproles-esque player in the NFL.

Deuce Vaughn scouting report

7. Sean Tucker

Nov 26, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs past Boston College Eagles defensive back CJ Burton (0) during the second quarter at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Fundamentally, Sean Tucker does everything right as a running back. He’s patient, he doesn’t settle for running upright, and he has adequate athleticism needed to accelerate past defenders.

That being said, sometimes, he can wait a little too long in the backfield, and by then, the holes that have been opened for him may already have closed again. He needs to become a little more assertive as a back at the next level.

8. Zach Evans

Dec 28, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Mississippi Rebels running back Zach Evans (6) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Evans has all the talent in the world, and honestly, that talent combined with a home run ability that allowed him to average 6.9 yards per carry could have vaulted him into the top 5 of this class.

That being said, injuries are a major concern for Evans. He played 12 games in 2022, but he had nagging injuries throughout the year and only appeared in six games the year before. Additionally, Evans has a fumble issue that needs to be fixed in order to find long-term success in the NFL.

9. Tank Bigsby

Auburn Tigers running back Tank Bigsby (4) runs the ball as the Auburn Tigers take on Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Auburn Tigers 41-27.

In a draft class filled with guys that would have been considered undersized in past years, Tank Bigsby is exactly what his name describes him as. At 6’0 and 210 pounds, Bigsby spent his collegiate years plowing through defenders, but he also showed flashes of elusivity, being able to use creative moves to evade tacklers even within small spaces.

Overall, Bigsby runs into problems because he runs a little too upright rather than staying low to the ground, and he isn’t going to bring much in terms of his pass-catching ability.

10. Roschon Johnson

Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Roschon Johnson (2) runs for yards during the first half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Since the emergence of Bijan Robinson over the past couple years, Roschon Johnson has fallen under the radar from the Texas Longhorns program, but even in limited time, Johnson has been a very productive runner splitting time with Robinson.

He won’t blow you away with speed, but he is another powerful runner, who made his living breaking tackles to gain extra yards. There isn’t any concern with fumbles either, and he can be a contributor in pass blocking. Don’t expect a star in Johnson, but he can certainly be a viable RB2 for years to come.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.