2020 NFL Draft RB Watch: Najee Harris, J.K. Dobbins improve in key areas, trending up
Running backs at a few traditional powers worked to improve their respective games last offseason and it has shown
The regular season has come to an end and teams are now turning their attention to the postseason. There will be fewer games each week and, for that reason, we are saying goodbye to the weekly 'RB Watch' in 2019. Have no fear, the feature will be replaced with other great NFL Draft content leading up to the big event in less than five months.
In the final installment, CBS Sports wanted to shine the spotlight on a few running backs at traditionally powerful programs for the work that they put in the last offseason and how it has translated to the final product on the field each week.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Harris' athleticism was evident last year but the consistency was not present. With Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris onto the NFL, Harris has now had a chance to create more recognition for his own play. Last season, the California native did not play with the physicality expected of his size. He has made his presence known in each game this season, particularly this past weekend against rival Auburn.
A display of strength was made in the first quarter when Harris lowered his head against a defender. His first reaction was to flex but the play was ongoing.
Raw power may not be every fan's cup of tea. Perhaps they would prefer to see Harris jump over a standing SEC football player.
The junior has scored a touchdown in ten of the team's 12 games this season. He has also averaged more than two receptions per game.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
The Michigan rivalry means more to every Ohio State player that goes through that program. In likely his final chance to play against the Wolverines, Dobbins went OFF. He finished with 211 rushing yards as well as 49 receiving yards. This particular play was not overly difficult but Dobbins dunked on Michigan at the goal line.
It was so bad that the Wolverines resorted to uncommon warfare in an effort to slow him down; they took his shoe off after a tackle.
The Texas native has now fumbled in each of the past two games but he had not fumbled since the first game against Florida Atlantic. It bears monitoring, however. The effort pushed Dobbins past Ezekiel Elliott for No. 2 in career rushing yards (4,113) at Ohio State. It would be impossible for him to pass Archie Griffin (5,589) without returning for his senior season.
Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
Vaughn had his worst game as a Commodore. He finished with 13 rushing yards on six carries against rival Tennessee. To make matters worse, his longest run of the day was 13 yards, which means he accumulated zero total yards on the other five carries. Vanderbilt has played poorly this season within a strong conference and that has to be taken into consideration when evaluating Vaughn's draft stock. With that being said, the Tennessee native has been too inconsistent. One week, he will rush for 130+ yards (which he did four times this season) and another he will rush for 60 yards or fewer (which he also did four times).
Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
There is a lot to like about Benjamin. He cuts explosively and provides great moments of athletic ability. In this past weekend's game against rival Arizona, he blocked a defender into the sideline bleachers Michael Oher-style. It is not all sunshine and rainbows though. The Texas native has fumbled five times in the past five games. NFL coaches are not going to tolerate that lack of ball security. Rushing 50 yards downfield helps no one if he fumbles the ball at the end.
Benjamin is a special talent but he needs to work on holding the ball high and tight to his body.
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