In case you hadn’t noticed, Boston College running back A.J. Dillon had an impressive weigh-in at the 2020 NFL Combine this week. He checked-in at a massive 247 pounds (the heaviest among all running backs), had the second-biggest hands and the fourth-longest arms. At 6003 (6-foot), he was the third-tallest running back of the group, too.
Dillon isn’t just a good-looking prospect on the hoof, either. He plays up to his size and is an absolute load to bring to the ground. As Titans running back Derrick Henry proved in 2019, the days of the big and physical between-the-tackles running back could be making a comeback.
Henry led the NFL in rushing with 1,540 yards. Henry, like Dillon, is 247 pounds.
Dillon is more than just a big, bruising back, too. He has above-average change of direction skills and enough first-step quickness to hit running lanes before they close. He’s faster than what you’d expect from a player pushing 250 pounds. He can challenge second- and third-level defenders for chunk gains. Will he have the same level of effectiveness as a potential field-flipper in the NFL? His 40-yard dash will tell that story. On tape, Dillon looks like a player who will hover around the high-4.5’s, low-4.6’s. And if he clocks that time, his stock will rise.
If, however, his speed comes in slower than that, concerns about him being a highly productive college back with limited pro upside will be valid.
Dillon finished the 2019 college football season with 318 carries for 1,685 yards and 14 touchdowns. It was his third-consecutive season with 10 or more touchdowns, bringing his career total at Boston College to 40 total scores (two receiving).
Dillon is a great example of a player who can improve his draft stock by having a big week at the NFL Combine. He’s currently hovering around RB10 on most rankings. We have him graded No. 6 right now, and there’s plenty of time for him to crack the top five.
Dillon’s draft value gets dinged because of his lack of production as a receiver. The NFL wants running backs who can contribute on all three downs, and it’s become increasingly more important (if not mandatory) for highly-graded running backs to be able to produce as a pass-catcher in today’s offenses.
Dillon will get his chance to run routes and catch the football at the NFL Combine. If he looks smooth and natural, the concern about his pass-catching will be lessened.
Bottom line? You don’t find players with the blend of size, instincts and athleticism that Dillon possesses very often. He projects as a potential lead back in an NFL offense, and if he slides into Day 3 of the 2020 NFL draft, someone is going to get themselves a massive (no pun intended) steal.