D’Andre Swift is widely regarded as the No. 1 running back in the 2020 NFL Draft class but is he deserving of this distinction?
While the 2020 NFL Draft class doesn’t have a ton of elite names near the top of the board when it comes to the running back position, one player is standing out above the rest.
The Georgia star spent three seasons in Athens, rushing for 2,885 yards and 20 touchdowns on 6.6 yards per touch. He also showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield with 73 receptions for 666 yards and five more touchdowns. He looked like one of the best all-purpose running backs in all of college football.
Many are tabbing Swift as the No. 1 overall back in the class but how much should we believe this distinction by the experts?
Well, let’s compare him to some of the other top backs in this year’s class.
First, there’s Jonathan Taylor. It’s tough to say which one is truly better, but Swift seems to be slightly quicker. He can get up to his top speed faster, and has breakaway speed after fighting through contact. Both are great pass-catchers (Taylor worked relentlessly to fix that part of his game in 2019) and both have elite patience, strength and vision.
However, mileage matters. In fact, Taylor has 926 collegiate carries under his belt and Swift finished with only 440. We know that the shelf life for running backs is relatively short.
Next, there’s JK Dobbins of Ohio State. The talented back started his career splitting carries with Mike Weber but took over the lead role in 2019. He’s a dark-horse pick for the first round and potentially becoming a franchise back. He and Swift are excellent runners with similar quick, yet powerful styles. The only knock on Dobbins is he’s not great in pass protection whereas Swift is solid. You have to give the slight advantage to Swift here.
The next two backs that could push for a first-round grade before the draft are Zack Moss and Cam Akers.
Moss is a bigger back with more power and less speed and he may rely more on strength than his ability to elude defenders. He’s more of a ‘run through you than around you’ type of back — and that’s OK. But if you’re looking for an all-around rusher, that’s Swift.
Akers, on the other hand, is a speedier back than Moss and compares favorably to Swift. He may be the most underrated rusher in the 2020 class and he may have as successful a career as Swift, but he may not be as safe a pick. Why? Akers played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the country at Florida State, so it’s tough to gauge how good he really can be. His ceiling may be incredibly high, but we haven’t seen his best yet — that could also be a positive.
Just for the uncertainties alone, you have to go with Swift here, too.
And then you have guys like Eno Benjamin and Clyde Edwards-Helaire who don’t quite compare to Swift right now — it wouldn’t be fair.
Before looking at all the draft-eligible backs in the class, Swift needed to sell me. After comparing him to a couple of other elite prospects, he’s the best available at the position.