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2023 NFL Draft prospect profile - Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA

Can Charbonnet take some of the load off of Saquon Barkley’s shoulders?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 19 USC at UCLA Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is deep at several positions, and the running back class is one of the deepest position groups.

There are runners to not only fit but start in every offensive scheme used in the NFL. There are well-rounded “bell cow” backs, explosive or agile speedsters, and big power backs. UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet headlines the power backs in this year’s draft class. Charbonnet isn’t just a bruising runner, but also a gliding athlete who can pick up chunk yardage in the open field.

Running back has been considered an under-the-radar need for the New York Giants, and they have long needed a power back to pair with Saquon Barkley. They (probably) won’t be drafting a runner highly, but could Charbonnet appeal if he happens to slide on draft day?

Prospect: Zach Charbonnet (24)
Games Watched: vs. Utah (2022), vs. Oregon (2022), vs. Arizona (2022), vs. USC (2022)


Courtesy Kent Lee Platte (@mathbomb) |


Games Played: 40

Carries: 566
Yards (YPC): 3,346 (5.9 per carry)
Receptions: 75
Yards (YPC): 589 (7.9 per catch)
Touchdowns: 39

2022 Stats

Games Played: 10

Carries: 195
Yards (YPC): 1,359 (7.0 per catch)
Receptions: 39
Yards (YPC): 321 (8.8 per catch)
Touchdowns: 14

Quick Summary

Best: Power, contact balance, competitive toughness, quickness, burst, size
Worst: Agility, long speed, downfield receiving
Projection: A starting running back or important role player in an active rotation.

Game Tape

Full Report

UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet has a good blend of size, power, athleticism, and competitive toughness to play the position at the NFL level.

Charbonnet is a good-sized running back at 6-foot, 214 pounds, though he appears bigger on the field. He is a powerful runner who primarily plays out of the shotgun formation, though he did also play from behind center in short-yardage situations. Likewis, Charbonnet usually ran out of zone blocking schemes in UCLA’s offense, and outside zone at that. He was also asked to execute inside zone runs and man-gap runs as well.

Charbonnet has a good burst and accelerates relatively well for a bigger back. That acceleration allows him to be patient behind the line of scrimmage and allow his blocks to be established before accelerating downhill. He does a good job of exploding through the line of scrimmage and consistently has two hands on the ball when he runs through traffic. Charbonnet has excellent contact balance to go with his power as a runner. He is able to bounce off of shoulder checks and disregard arm tackles, even from linebackers and some linemen. Charbonnet is a very hard runningback for individual defenders to bring down, and he has the ability to run through stumbles and regain his feet on the move.

He has good vision around the line of scrimmage and does a good job of picking out quickly-closing running lanes, as well as anticipating defenders at the second level. Of course, Charbonnet doesn’t anticipate defenders to avoid them, rather delivering a stiff-arm or lowering his shoulder to run over them.

Charbonnet is a very physical runner who looks to finish his runs by delivering blows to defenders. He will go so far as to not go out of bounds and rather delivering a hit to end his run.

Unlike many power runners, Charbonnet is a capable receiver. He was used as a check-down option in UCLA’s offense, and presents a good target for his quarterback. Charbonnet is a hands catcher who’s relatively dependable – though he does occasionally have concentration drops. He shows his burst after the catch and is a real headache for defensive backs to get on the ground.

Charbonnet wasn’t asked to run a full route tree and didn’t do much down-field receiving.

Charbonnet is a true one-cut runner and isn’t able to string multiple moves together or make defenders miss in space. Likewise, while he has a good initial burst, he lacks great long speed. He can be run down from behind and isn’t going to force bad angles on defenders. Charbonnet has enough speed to maintain his initial separation from most defenders, but isn’t going to run away from many edge defenders, linebackers or defensive backs. That will keep him from being a big-play threat at the NFL level, which might make him a short-yardage back in some teams’ eyes.

Overall Grade: 7.7


Zach Charbonnet projects as a “starting” running back at the NFL level, though his best fit might be as a primary player in an active running back rotation.

Charbonnet is an aggressive and powerful downhill runner who looks to punish defenders who get in his way. He isn’t an elite athlete and won’t be an explosive big play threat at the NFL level, but he should be a consistent producer. He has the ability to keep a team on-schedule between the 20’s, while his burst, balance, and power make him a threat when things speed up in the red zone.

Charbonnet will need to continue to develop as a pass catcher, and the next step will be to run a more expansive route tree and motion to receiver positions. Teams that make heavy use of runners in the passing game will likely have lower grades on Charbonnet, but he should be a good, consistent back for any team that drafts him.