Wide receivers, defensive ends, linebackers, even kickers have been mocked to the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason. They’re a team with many needs, and a team with many needs don’t really need another running back when their roster is the shape that it’s in.
With that said, the Bengals love drafting running backs. They took a two-year hiatus from doing so from 2015-16, but they’re typically unafraid to re-invest in the position every year.
It’s safe to say that they won’t be spending a high-round pick on a running back later this week, but who are some names to watch for on Saturday when day three of the draft begins?
Antonio Gibson, Memphis (6-0, 228, 4.39)
Maybe the most electrifying ballcarrier in the entire draft class, Gibson may be listed as a wide receiver or a running back depending on the team you talk to. One thing that’s for certain is he’s a big-play machine. That blazing 40 time at his dense build is a nightmare for defenses to contemplate. He’s also just 21 years old and has only 33 carries to his name and played for the Bengals coaching staff in the Senior Bowl. He’s an ideal day three pick for a team looking for depth at running back.
Eno Benjamin, Arizona State (5-9, 207, 4.57)
A teammate of Gibson’s on the South roster in Mobile, Benjamin has a very similar build and athletic skillset to that of Giovani Bernard. He runs with a low center of gravity that allows him to absorb and run through contact to pick up extra yards. Make no mistake though, he can make defenders miss laterally as well. A productive two-year starter who became a team captain all before he turned 21 just last week, Benjamin will be a fine pick early Saturday afternoon.
A.J. Dillon, Boston College (6-0, 247, 4.53)
His size is that of an old school linebacker, but his 4.53 40 and vertical and broad jumps of 41 and 131 inches, respectively, are simply insane. Dillon is a freak of an athlete at the running back position, and he plays exactly how you’d expect him to play: like a battering ram. With that said, Dillon has vision to go with his physique. Over 800 career carries at Boston College lead to over 4,000 career yards and 38 career touchdowns. Production is what Dillon has monopolized in this class.
DeeJay Dallas, Miami (FL.) (5-10, 227, 4.58)
After just one year of starting experience, Dallas declared for the NFL Draft with just 265 career carries on his resume. He lead the Hurricanes in rushing in 2019 while being a team captain as well. With his stout build, Dallas has that lower body power you like to see, but he’s also a brick wall in pass protection. The Bengals drafted two running backs in the sixth round last year, and that’s where they could probably take Dallas this week.
Michael Warren, Cincinnati (5-9, 226, N/A)
After Mike Boone left for the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings, he passed the torch to Warren, who ran with it from the very beginning. Over 2,500 yards and 33 touchdowns later, Warren became the first underclassman from Cincinnati to declare for draft in school history. If he gets drafted, it likely won’t be until the last two rounds, which is where the Bengals should look to draft a back if they want to.