The New Orleans Saints will be heading into the NFL Draft with several needs on both sides of the ball, especially at the running back position. Alvin Kamara is still set to be the lead back, but there is a possible suspension that might be looking for the veteran running back next season. With Mark Ingram set to become a free agent on March 15th, New Orleans starts to get thin at the running back position. The solution to that problem can be answered in late April as this year’s running back class is loaded with talent. Here are some of the prospects that the Saints can turn their attention to for the 2023 NFL Draft at running back:
Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama:
Jahmyr Gibbs has been getting a lot of comparison to current Saints running back, Kamara, with his ability to be effective on the ground and in the receiving department. Before transferring to Alabama prior to the start of the 2022 season, Gibbs would spend the first two years of his collegiate career at Georgia Tech.
Jahmyr Gibbs is going to be such an exciting NFL weapon.
The suddenness in his feet and instinctive vision make him a nightmare for defenses. Elite pass-catching back as well. 1st round player. pic.twitter.com/TXnbIAcg4C
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 2, 2023
During his career at Georgia Tech, Gibbs accumulated for 1,805 total yards during his sophomore season in 2021. He rushed for 746 yards on 13 carries and four touchdowns while adding 470 yards and two scores on 36 receptions. The Dalton, Georgia native would be named First Team All-ACC as an all-purpose back and racked up All-SEC second-team honors.
Gibbs would elect to take his talents to the SEC and join Alabama heading into the 2022 season. Off the bat Gibbs would show that he was an explosive play-maker coming out of the backfield. He would make an instant impact on the Crimson Tide offense totaling a team-high 926 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Gibbs would also add 44 receptions for 444 yards and three touchdowns.
Devon Achane, Texas A&M:
Devon Achane burst onto the scene heading into the 2020 season at Texas A&M as a freshman. Achane appeared in eight games, while starting in two for the Aggies. The Missouri City, Texas native would make his collegiate debut against Alabama. He would earn SEC Freshman of the Week after his performance against South Carolina where he posted his first multi-touchdown game of his career and had a 52-yard reception through the air.
Texas A&M’s Devon Achane showing off his ability to make a defender miss in the hole with his wiggle and turn a nothing play into a chunk run.
Achane’s lack of size will push him down the board for some in the 2023 NFL Draft but that speed and ability to create is so enticing. pic.twitter.com/XYfMq7KRME
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) February 17, 2023
Achane would start to make his stature as one of the best running backs in the SEC going into his sophomore season in 2021. He would lead the SEC in yards per attempt (7.0) and would be second on the team in rushing with 910 yards. Achane would also lead the Aggies in total touchdowns with 11 during his second season with the program.
In his final year at Texas A&M in 2022, Achane led the SEC and would rank fourth in the country averaging 161.0 all-purpose yards per game. He ranked No. 3 in the SEC with 110.2 rushing yards per game. The Missouri City native would be named All-SEC First-Team running back and All-SEC First-Team all-purpose player after the 2022 season. Throughout his college career, he showed he can be explosive with the special teams having two 90+ yard special teams touchdowns.
Zach Charbonnet, UCLA:
Before transferring to UCLA prior to the start of the 2021 season, Zach Charbonnet would spend the first two seasons of his collegiate career at Michigan. Charbonnet would make an instant impact for the Wolverines offense as he locked up seven starts and would be impressive during his freshman season. He finished the year with 726 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Where do you rank Zach Charbonnet in this RB draft class? pic.twitter.com/f88PPf6Xon
— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) February 20, 2023
Charbonnet would see limited action during the 2020 season as he appeared in just five games and his lone start on the year came against Minnesota. The Camarillo, California native would decide to take his talents out west and head to UCLA for his last two seasons of his collegiate career. He would start in the last nine games of the season for the Bruins. Charbonnet ended his debut season at UCLA with leading all Pac-12 rushers with seven 100-yard games.
He would continue his momentum from the 2021 season heading into 2022 as he would lead the nation in all-purpose yards (168.0) and topped the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game (135.9). Charbonnet would be named first-team All-Pac-12. The Camarillo native would also be listed as a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award and a semifinalist for the Walter Camp POY Award.
Tyjae Spears, Tulane:
Tyjae Spears saw limited action during his freshman season at Tulane in 2019 where he totaled just 192 rushing yards and 1333 receiving yards while adding two touchdowns. Spears would decide to use his redshirt after his first season with the Green Wave. The injury bug would catch up with Spears during the 2020 season as he only saw action in three games during the year before suffering a season-ending injury.
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve audibly laughed watching Tyjae Spears
Most players lose momentum when they change direction, he plants and takes off like a rocket pic.twitter.com/T21CViQ8aG
— sfDynastyFF (Rob) (@Quintorris_) February 1, 2023
Despite the injury, Spears would finish fourth on the team with 274 rushing yards and would average 7.4 yards per carry on the year. The injury would light a spark in the Ponchatoula, Louisiana native as he would become the Green Wave’s top running back. Spears capped off the 2021 season with 863 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
His last season at Tulane would be his best as he would be a key factor in their run to the Cotton Bowl against USC. Spears racked up 229 carries for 1,581 and 18 touchdowns on the season. Through the air, Spears hauled in 22 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
Tank Bigsby, Auburn:
Tank Bigsby would be a three-year starter with Auburn and he would make his debut during the 2020 campaign. On the year, Bigsby would rank eighth in the SEC in all-purpose yardage (122.4 avg) and fifth in total rushing yards (834). He would continue to elevate his status heading into the 2021 season as he capped off the year with 1,099 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a receiver, he would pull in 20 receptions for 180 yards.
This jaunt by Tank Bigsby is the most physically dominant run I’ve seen from anybody in the 2023 RB class
That step over was borderline disrespectful pic.twitter.com/BRqE1aMHpb
— Joe O’Leary (@TheHQNerd) February 9, 2023
Heading into the 2022 season, Bigsby would enter his third year with the Tigers and there would be a lot of expectation for him in his final season with the program. Bigsby would finish his Auburn career with 2,903 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. Through the air, he would rack up 30 receptions for 180 yards.
The Lagrange, Georgia native would show his strengths throughout his collegiate career as a compact runner that can burst into the open field and be able to reach the second level of an opposing defense.
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