A.J. Dillon 2020 NFL Draft Profile

A.J. Dillon Overview
Position: Running Back
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 247 pounds
School: Boston College Eagles

Combine Data
40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds
Bench press: 23 reps (fifth-best among running backs)
Vertical jump: 41 inches (best among running backs)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 11 inches (best among running backs)
Three-cone drill: 7.19 seconds

A.J. Dillon 2020 NFL Draft Profile

As far as skill positions go, the talk of the 2020 NFL Draft class lies with the wide receiver group. However, the running backs in this class aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. One back that sticks out in this class is none other than Boston College’s A.J. Dillon. A three-star recruit out of high school, Dillon thrived at Boston College, posting three extremely productive seasons. He amassed 38 touchdowns over his career while rushing for an outstanding 4,382 yards during that span. His best season came last year when Dillon ran for 1,685 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was the heartbeat of the Eagles offense as racked up over 300 carries as a junior. Dillon’s combination of raw strength and surprising elusiveness makes him an interesting player to follow as the draft approaches.

Some of the best film from Dillon’s junior season came against Syracuse where he rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Dillon displayed an elite ability to get downhill and run through would-be tacklers. Although he isn’t the greatest runner in the draft, he has proven himself to have elite strength and power, as well as some great patience. There were several instances where Dillon would slow himself down behind the line of scrimmage and wait for blocks to develop and holes to open. Once these holes opened up, Dillon would have no issues smashing through them. His stocky build at 6’0″ and nearly 250 pounds made him a nightmare to tackle, especially if he was able to get into the secondary.

Strengths

  • he is a strong runner and tough to bring down;
  • dependable (Can handle a heavy workload week in and week out);
  • seems to get stronger as the game goes on;
  • a patient runner who can identify and hit the holes;
  • has the ability to gain yardage even on broken plays.

Weaknesses

  • pass blocking could be better;
  • doesn’t have breakaway speed (40 time ranked 10th out of fifteen participants);
  • doesn’t impact the passing game as a receiver;
  • profiles as mostly a one-cut runner;
  • while his agility isn’t awful, it could stand to be improved at the NFL level;

NFL Comparison: LeGarrette Blount

Teams with a Need at the Position: Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans

Projection: third round

Bottom Line

The pure power back is a dying breed in the NFL and that is a fact that could potentially hurt A.J. Dillon’s draft stock. Despite his excellent college career, the fact still stands he isn’t a remarkable runner and doesn’t contribute to the passing game. At Boston College, Dillon was a bell cow, receiving a lion share of the carries. However, as he moves to the NFL this doesn’t figure to be the case. Many teams may look at Dillon as a nice change of pace from a quicker pass-catching back. This is why Dillon could be a fit for teams such as the Saints and Rams, who already have running backs that can make an impact in the passing game. Dillon would likely be an upgrade over a player like Latavius Murray in New Orleans.

Despite his shortcomings, A.J. Dillon still has the raw ability to go in the early rounds, but it is more than likely he won’t come off the board until the mid to late third round. Although his playing style is no longer all that sought after in the NFL, teams have made players like him work. Take the running back combination of LeGarrette Blount and any number of pass-catching backs on the New England Patriots whether it be Shane Vereen, Dion Lewis, or James White. This is the role that Dillon will likely find himself in at the next level, and he undoubtedly has the talent to succeed in it.

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