As rookie fever is in full pitch and we all anxiously await the 2020 NFL Draft later this month, there are a couple of running backs that could be flying under the radar now but may turn some heads come April 23-25th. Darrynton Evans and DeeJay Dallas, from Appalachia State and Miami, respectively, are names to know before you complete your rookie draft in the coming months. I broke down these two players using the same categories we used for our earlier rookie evaluations: Athletic Ability, Toughness, Vision, Hands, and Yards After Contact.

Toughness

Evans – 7.0 / 10

Evans shows his lower body strength to break shoestring tackle attempts with some regularity, but did not appear to be especially STRONG when it came to facing defensive lineman. Now, I don’t expect my running backs to plow over 300+ pound lineman when they are met unblocked in the backfield, so I do not penalize him too harshly for that. However, his low BMI (29.1, which is in the 27th percentile) is noticeable. He seems to have the awareness to know when to try to break the run outside for more yardage, and when to put his head down and get a couple of tough yards.

Dallas – 7.5 / 10

DeeJay is a tough runner that keeps his legs churning and displays great contact balance to bounce off of tacklers. The clip below is a perfect example of his ability to absorb a hit and stay upright, and then gain additional yardage thereafter.

Athletic Ability

Evans – 7.5 / 10

At the combine in March, Evans showed out with 80th+ percentile scores in a variety of areas. His 4.41 40-yard dash was 96th percentile, 107.3 Speed Score was 86th percentile, and his Burst Score of 125.4 put him in the 82nd percentile. Most of those measures are apparent in his game film, as Evans broke away from defenders in the open field and showed his ability to get to top speed fairly quickly. In the clip below, you will see Evans elude a tackler and cut back to gain significant yardage. Now, I didn’t expect his Burst Score to be as high, as I felt like he did not always hit the hole very hard, but nonetheless, Evans is a fairly freaky athlete.

Dallas – 7.5 / 10

I felt like Dallas looked more athletic on tape than his combine numbers showed, as he tested out as an average to slightly below average athlete. While I didn’t see elite breakaway speed, he did show good burst to hit the open crease and accelerate upfield, and frequently showed off his spin move on incoming tacklers.

Vision

Evans – 6.5 / 10

I found Evans’ vision to be somewhat inconsistent, but admittedly it was hard to always decipher between poor vision and the lack of running lanes when his offensive line was overwhelmed. Many of his more impressive runs displayed his athletic ability in the open field after running through a large hole, as opposed to creating plays using his vision.

Dallas – 8.0 / 10

I found Vision to be the strongest part of DeeJay Dallas’ game, as he showed no issues reading the defense and then making the correct decision on when to bounce outside, versus when to get north/south quickly.

Hands

Evans – 7.0 / 10

Darrynton looks the part of a fairly natural pass catcher, but did not have a ton of opportunities in college as he totaled just 32 catches in his final two seasons at App State. Most of the routes were standard swing routes, so it remains to be seen if that was a skill left untapped or if Evans is a little more limited in that area.

Dallas – 7.5 / 10

While he did not catch a ton of passes in college (28 in three seasons), I believe Dallas shows a fairly natural ability to catch the ball. Even more impressive is what Dallas does after the catch, where he is able to turn short screens into long gains.

Yards After Contact

Evans – 7.0 / 10

As I mentioned under Toughness, Evans showed the ability to break tackles from time to time, especially once he got past the first level. Evans does well to keep his legs churning and should be able to translate that to the next level.

Dallas – 8.0 / 10

DeeJay’s contact balance is another strength he possesses, and it helps him continue to gain yardage even after the defender makes a tackle attempt. Unfortunately, he seemed to be caught from behind more than you would like to see which resulted in some of his big plays not ending in a touchdown.

Drumroll Please…

After accounting for the above criterion, as well as the combine metrics I grade, Darrynton Evans came in as my RB6 pre-draft, just behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor (blasphemous, I know). DeeJay Dallas followed as my RB7, just ahead of Ke’Shawn Vaughn.

With some recent chatter that Evans could be drafted as early as the third round, and DeeJay being mocked more often in the 5th – 6th round range, it is likely that both players will be trending in opposite directions in my rankings once I account for draft capital. If Evans is taken in the top four rounds of the NFL Draft, he very well could be sneaking into the mid/late 2nd rounds of rookie drafts.

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