The New York Giants don’t need to add a running back in the 2020 NFL Draft, or at least not with a high pick. That being said, we should still pay attention to the position as running backs will play a role in shaping teams’ big boards..
Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins will be one of the first running backs off the board — perhaps even the first running back taken, depending on how things fall on draft night. He is an undersized running back, but plays big and has a well-rounded game. So while the Giants probably won’t draft Dobbins, they could well play against him in the next couple years, so it would pay to be familiar with him.
Prospect: J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
Games Watched: vs. Nebraska (2019), vs. Michigan State (2019), vs. Wisconsin (2019), vs. Clemson (2019)
Red Flags: None
Games Played (starts): 42
Yards (YPC): 4,459 (6.2 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 645 (9.1 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 43 (38 rushing, 5 receiving)
Games Played (starts): 14
Yards (YPC): 2,003 (6.7 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 247 (10.7 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 25 (23 rushing, 2 receiving)
Best: Vision, contact ballance, athleticism
Worst: Pass protection, size
Projection: A starting running back in a zone scheme.
Ohio State running back JK Dobbins is a dynamic runner who has very good athleticism, vision, and balance. Dobbins shows good patience and vision behind the line of scrimmage. He has a good sense of timing and rhythm after receiving the hand-off to allow his blocks to develop. Dobbins is able to anticipate seems and adjust to the flow of the play on zone runs. He also has very good vision and reacts quickly when his intended gap is plugged by the defense. He is able to quickly sink his hips and burst into a cutback lane to maximize the yardage blocked for him. He also shows good speed to win the edge in off-tackle or outside zone runs. Once in the open field, he has enough speed to maintain separation from athletic defenders and create big plays.
Dobbins is a compact runner with good lower-body strength and contact balance, allowing him to weather tackle attempts and stay on his feet. Dobbins offers a small strike zone for defenders, and his short-area quickness is enough to turn form tackles into arm-tackle attempts which he can run through. He also shows good competitive toughness as a runner, lowering his shoulder and willingly running behind his pads or carrying defenders when necessary.
Dobbins should not be asked to pass protect early in his career. He has the play strength to stand up to blitzing linebackers or defensive backs, but his technique is lacking. Dobbins also needs to show more aggression as a blocker, rather than trying to catch them in the backfield. He also needs to be more consistent as a receiver, as he can suffer concentration drops as he tries to turn upfield before securing the catch.
Overall Grade: 6.4 - Has the traits to be a good starter early in his career. Some issues may hold him back from being an every-down player right away but he should immediately be an important contributor for any team that drafts him. [Grading Scale]
JK Dobbins projects best as a starting running back for an offense that runs a zone-heavy scheme. He has the play strength and decisiveness to play in a man-gap scheme, but Dobbins’ vision and athleticism are maximized in a zone scheme that gives him multiple options on any play.
Once he is in the open field, he has the speed to be a big-play threat and can break off chunk yardage or score from outside the red zone. Dobbins also shows a good willingness to run behind his pads and finish his runs by delivering a blow to a defender, and should be a consistent runner at the NFL level. Despite being a smaller back, Dobbins is remarkably hard to bring down. He has a strong lower body to carry defenders as well as good contact balance to run through arm tackles and bounce off shoulder checks.
His primary weakness is pass protection and that could prevent him from seeing significant snaps early in his career. Dobbins has the raw tools to be competent, but needs more consistency and confidence in his technique. He doesn’t show the same aggression as a blocker as he does as a runner, and can be more of a speed bump than an impediment for a rusher. Teams will want Dobbins on the field, and he could be used in scat protection early on. However, he will need more consistency as a receiver as well. Dobbins is a consistent “hands” catcher who extends to maximize his catch radius, but occasionally he seems more concerned with turning upfield than securing the catch. That leads to concentration drops, but should be coachable while he works on his pass protection.
Dobbins probably won’t appeal to all teams, and teams who view running backs as pass protectors will likely have hesitations. Likewise, teams with strict measurable thresholds or who want to focus on a power run game will likely look elsewhere. That being said, teams that use zone blocking schemes and are willing to work with Dobbins in the receiving game will see considerable upside.