As we head towards the 2020 NFL Draft, football analyst Liz Loza will deliver a snapshot of the top prospects at each position that will include their pro comparison and best fantasy fit. Up next for the running back class is Ohio State Buckeye, J’Kaylin “J.K.” Dobbins.
J’Kaylin lost his father, Lawrence Dobbins, when he was just 15-years-old. The elder Dobbins — who suffered a terminal stroke on Valentine’s Day of 2014 — was also a star running back at La Grange High School in Texas. Dobbins credits his late father with his love of football.
Well-built with a #thicc lower half, Dobbins is hard to take down. He’s a downhill runner with plus power and fearless determination. His ability in short-yardage and goal-line situations is particularly eye-popping, as evidenced by his 21 rushing touchdowns (the most in the Big Ten) in 2019.
Dobbins has more of a run-you-over than a run-around-you skill-set. He’s not fantastically creative when crowded, and he lacks the second-level speed to effortlessly outrun defenders in the open field.
Likely a Round 2 selection, the former Buckeye has the potential to be a feature back at the next level. In possession of instinctive vision, astounding contact balance, and plus acceleration, Dobbins isn’t afraid of employing a punishing stiff arm or lowering his shoulder and trucking a would-be tackler. In addition to being a physical rusher who consistently finishes with authority, he’s also a capable pass-catcher out of the backfield (71 grabs for 645 yards), though his route-running is far from refined.
Dobbins started 40 of the 42 games in which he played and never missed a contest in three years.
Dobbins chose to sit out the final day of testing at the NFL Combine in February. It was assumed that an ankle injury he suffered during the College Football Playoffs was the reason. However, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, OSU’s pro-day was canceled and now teams don’t have speed or agility times on the 21-year-old. While he’s two inches taller, his running style is reminiscent of an early-career Ray Rice.
Despite tapping a rotation of suitable rushers throughout 2019, Kansas City is still searching for their bell-cow. Recent reports suggest that the team is interested in Dobbins, as they’ve conducted FaceTime interviews with the prospect. It’s unlikely, however, that he’ll still be on the board when the Chiefs pick in the second round (No. 63, via the 49ers).
It’s hard to believe any franchise would spend a first-round selection (No. 32) on a running back in 2020, but stranger things have happened. If Kansas City doesn’t nab Dobbins then the Chargers might look for his goal-line prowess to replace Melvin Gordon’s with the 34th-overall pick.
What about Dobbins’ game intrigues or concerns you the most? Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF.