2020 NFL Draft Prospect – AJ Dillon, RB Boston College

Dwight Peebles

Our NFL rookie profile series begins with this analysis of 2020 NFL Draft Prospect AJ Dillon, RB from Boston College. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!

Over the last three seasons, few running backs have surpassed the production which AJ Dillon had at Boston College. He rushed for over 1,500 yards twice playing in the ACC and was far down draft analysts’ rankings. He put up great numbers at the Combine and forced some to take notice of the athletic big back from Connecticut.


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Statistics from sports-reference.com.

Arriving on campus in 2017, Dillon quickly took the lead back role and hit the ground running. He rolled up nearly 1,600 yards on the ground and hit paydirt 14 times. He did this on exactly 300 carries for a solid 5.3 yards per carry.

He missed a few games his sophomore year but still had nearly identical production in the ten games he played. His yards per carry took a slight hit – down to 4.9 a tote. He caught eight passes but once again, the Eagles’ offense revolved around Dillon running the ball.

2019 was his best season – he ran for nearly 1,700 yards and 14 scores while also catching 13 passes for another 195 yards and an additional score. His 1,880 yards from scrimmage was the eighth-highest amount for the season, behind fellow draft backs Jonathan Taylor and JK Dobbins. He did have 318 carries, third-most in the NCAA and should face the same usage concerns some have with Taylor. Taylor amassed 926 carries over the past three seasons, Dillon ended with 845.

He is a big and durable back – six-foot tall exactly and tipping the scales at 247 pounds. He excels running north and south and lining up deep behind the quarterback. He has power, contact balance, and is a load to bring down.


We have several games available on his prospect page, but the 2019 game versus North Carolina State is one of the more impressive games in his career.

On this first play, his vision is one of his strongest parts of his game. Lining up deep, he takes the snap and sees the blocking develop. He has good speed heading toward the line and just a subtle shift gets him through the hole quickly. Dillon breaks the run for over 20 yards with a couple of moves. He isn’t elusive but he uses movement well to not take direct hits and create favorable angles.


He is incredibly tough for one tackler to bring down. When he gets a head of steam especially, his size coupled with speed makes him like a Mack truck. On this play, he displays how he keeps his legs moving when contact is initiated. He drives the play forward a few more yards and likely gives the first guy a nice little headache. This happens on more of his plays than not – he is a bear to bring down.

Dillon does occasionally bounce it outside. I love how he reads the flow of the play here and takes it back the other direction for a huge gain. He sees there isn’t much there and then upon switching direction, sees a crease. He doesn’t dance, he just sees it and promptly takes it upfield. There isn’t a lot of dance to his game. There is not much wiggle, but good vision and ability to see where the best avenue is. Some backs would have kept going the other direction – you see it over and over. Dillon doesn’t string the play out, he sees the best way to get north and south and hits it.

There are limited pass-catching plays to see what he can do. This was his only receiving touchdown and it is pretty smooth. His route tree, from what is watched, was limited to the wheel route almost exclusively. He showed good hands and good feet on this play and solid sideline awareness and tip-toeing.

There is a lot to like about his game and he looks better on tape than what I initially thought as I dove deeper. He has solid movement and his vision is good. The lateral agility isn’t particularly impressive but he shifts slightly to create better angles. He does it when he is nearly at top speed as well. The offense at Boston College was all Dillon and he faced stacked boxes focused on stopping him often. His numbers are hampered slightly and he was met with contact early and often.


Measurables from Mockdraftable.com.

The Combine highlighted what he can be athletically. He posted some historically impressive numbers. I delved deeper into how it fared historically over the past 20 Combines using DLF’s new Historical Combine Data App.

I searched RBs over 230 pounds since the year 2000 and his 4.53-second 40-yard dash was the 13th-highest number from 146 running backs who fit the size criteria. Notable running backs with faster times over the 230 pound threshold are Saquon Barkley (4.40), Jonathan Stewart (4.46), Michael Turner (4.49), and Leonard Fournette (4.51).

The 41” vertical was tied atop the group I filtered with Saquon Barkley. His 131” vertical was the top score amongst all the 146 running backs over 230 pounds tested since 2000. It was one inch higher than the previous leader, Derrick Henry.

Dillon’s profile is extremely similar to Henry’s. Dillon is three inches shorter than and Henry tested just a few pounds lighter than Dillon at 247 pounds. I pulled the data below from the DLF Historical Combine Data App as well.

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Dillon’s full testing results are nearly identical. His 40-yard dash is only 0.01 second faster than Henry’s, his vertical jump was four inches higher than Henry’s, and he had one more bench press. Dillon’s three-cone was also 0.01 second faster than Henry posted in 2016.


A big back with power and speed, he actually has reached nearly 20 miles an hour in the open field, which is crazy when considering he weighs nearly 250 pounds. He is currently being drafted 16th overall and the seventh running back off the board in March rookie ADP conducted by DLF.

The long-term dynasty value for Dillon is more dependent on the team which drafts him than any running back in the class in my opinion. Not many teams can optimize his skill set like the Titans have been able to with Henry. They have similar athletic profiles and Dillon would thrive on an offense that runs a powerful zone-blocking scheme.

He has a little experience at pass-catching and a team that is able to scheme around a two-down back will be optimal to maximize his potential. I am not saying he will be as successful as Derrick Henry as it took a few seasons for the Titans to realize what Henry could do and use him as effectively as he has become. Dillon has been a productive grinding type of back and able to earn hard yards and put the offense in a good position to have manageable second and third downs.

In overall Dynasty ADP, Dillon was coming off the board on average around pick 165 per February mock drafts. It’s early in March and his March ADP will likely be in the 125 range after the strong Combine showing.


Dillon was a back I was targeting in the later parts of the second round initially due to college production and what I saw on tape. Without knowing his landing spot, I would be hesitant to draft him where he is currently going, early half of the second round or earlier.

Without the pass-catching upside, it limits what he can be in the NFL a little. He could have a good career and possibly be a back who rushes for 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns. But there is always the possibility he could be in a constant timeshare and never on the field for three downs. The list I referenced above with backs over 230 pounds who had good athletic profiles – not many of them went on to successful NFL careers. For every Barkley or Henry, there are several LenDale Whites.

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