In many ways, it's hard to understand why there isn't more hype around AJ Dillon. A three-year workhorse at Boston College, Dillon rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman in the ACC. He had two more big seasons, then ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the 2020 Combine at 6 feet, 247 pounds, good for a 97th percentile speed score. The question is his passing game ability because Dillon caught just 21 balls in three seasons for 236 yards and two scores.
Numbers to Know
Date of Birth: May 2, 1998
Height: 6 feet, 0 inches
40 time: 4.53 seconds
Vertical: 41 inches
Broad: 131 inches
Bench: 23 reps
2019: 12 games, 318 carries, 1685 rush yards (5.3 YPC), 13 receptions, 195 receiving yards, 15 total TD
Dillon had his most prolific year as a true junior, dominating on the ground for a team that threw for just 176 passing yards per game.
Career: 35 games, 845 carries, 4382 rush yards (5.2 YPC), 21 receptions, 236 receiving yards, 40 total TD
Over a three-year college career, Dillon averaged 24.1 carries, 125 rushing yards and 1.1 rushing touchdowns per game. It's hard to overstate how dominant he was as a workhorse, but the receiving side of things never materialized.
Known Injury History
- Ankle, 2018 (missed three games)
- Broken leg, 2016 (high school)
Dillon is a tackle-breaking machine with size and speed to run between the tackles and handle a big workload. To put his size/speed combination into context, Dillon and Derrick Henry both weighed in at 247 pounds at their respective Combines, and Dillon ran a 4.53 to Henry's 4.54. But Henry stands 6 feet, 3 inches to Dillon's 6 feet flat, meaning we're in some ways talking about a shorter, more compact version of the Titans star.
Dillon also posted good broad and vertical jump numbers, and his 23 bench press reps display his above average strength. We're talking about a back who very likely has the physical ability to make the step to the next level and still be tough to bring down.
Like a lot of collegiate workhorses, Dillon wasn't asked to do much in the passing game, because the offense was built around handing him the ball. That doesn't mean he can't catch, but for such a big back with question marks about his agility, it's not likely to be a strength. Not helping in this matter, his pass blocking has receiving mixed reviews.
Dillon's yards per carry wasn't exactly elite for a high-end back, but it would be fair to give him a bit of a predictability pass there given the degree to which Boston College relied on him.
Ryan Wilson's Take
No. 7 RB
This RB class is deep but I still think AJ Dillon has a chance to have a lot of success. He's built like Jerome Bettis but runs more like Derrick Henry, and while he doesn't offer much in the pass game, he's a truck with the ball in his hands.
Dillon isn't likely to go in the second round like Henry did, and a better Fantasy upside comp might be Jordan Howard, who gave the Bears three straight seasons of 250-plus carries after being a fifth-round pick. Another player frequently comped to Dillon is Brandon Jacobs, and one thing Henry, Howard and Jacobs all have in common is they have all been all to produce strong touchdown numbers. The question remains whether Dillon could have more receiving ability than those three.
Favorite Fantasy Fits
It took Derrick Henry several years to get something close to an every-down role, and that's the type of commitment you're hoping Dillon will eventually get. The best fit may be in either Los Angeles destination, where he could be the thunder to the lightning of either Austin Ekeler or Darrell Henderson. Playing with a mobile quarterback would also be appealing in opening up inside holes for him to pick up steam, so a spot a little further down the depth chart in places like Seattle, Baltimore or Buffalo would offer long-term upside.
Fantasy Bottom Line
Dillon's a sleeper to keep close tabs on. His size means he would have fit much better in an older version of the NFL than the modern game, but that doesn't mean he won't be productive. And while he may slip in the draft due to teams devaluing his skill set, his physical attributes make it likely he'll stick as a rotational and goal-line back. And if his receiving ability develops, there's legitimate RB1 upside here long-term.
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