On Oct. 9, 2021, Devon Achane announced his presence on the national stage. As he scampered 96 yards past Alabama Crimson Tide defenders for a kick-return touchdown, “Devon Achane 40 time” skyrocketed on Google Trends — and for good reason. But, as his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report details, Achane is more than just speed … much more.
Devon Achane NFL draft profile
By all accounts, Achane is a quiet individual. Honestly, he doesn’t need to have a brash personality to grab attention — his on-field play does that for him. All of Missouri City, Texas, knew his last name as he spent his high school career with the back of his jersey the only thing fans and defenses could see. Across three seasons at Thurgood Marshall, Achane ran over and past the opposition for 4,823 yards and 88 touchdowns. He didn’t lack in the receiving game, hauling in 96 receptions for 2,004 yards and 22 scores.
But Achane’s dominance wasn’t limited to the football field. In his junior year, he recorded the fastest outdoor 200-meter time in the nation (20.46). Additionally, he ran on all three of Marshall’s relay teams. Achane received the 2020 Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year for his efforts. So yeah, he was quite the high school athlete.
Thus, he was widely viewed as a four-star prospect and garnered offers from virtually every top program, including Alabama and Georgia. However, Achane decided to attend Texas A&M due to his comfort level with the offense, coaching staff, and ability to play early, according to his high school football coach.
Although Isaiah Spiller and Ainias Smith were firmly entrenched above him on the depth chart, Jimbo Fisher and Co. couldn’t keep Achane off the field. He took 43 carries for 364 yards — 8.5 yards per attempt! — and four TDs. The Aggies knew what they had in-house and began to unleash the Texas native in 2021.
- Position: Running Back
- School: Texas A&M
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 5’9″, 185 pounds
Devon Achane scouting report
130 carries, 910 yards, and nine touchdowns later, it’s safe to say the SEC and college football fans across the country knew who Achane was. He even added 308 kick-return yards and a score on nine attempts for good measure.
This offseason, Fisher had this to say about his new presumed starter with Spiller off to the NFL: “The guy averaged seven yards per carry … There’s nothing that he can’t do.”
Where Achane wins
Running backs can often be an easy position to get lazy as a scout. On the surface, there isn’t much to see. They get the ball, hit a hole, and run. But nothing is ever that simple.
Achane has the requisite NFL traits in spades. The Texas A&M RB quickly identifies rushing lanes and explodes through them. If a lineman loses their battle in the gap, he bounces to a new one with ease. If penetration blows up the inside, Achane cuts outside and vice versa.
The Texas A&M product also owns the escapability to navigate traffic and use his smaller stature to his advantage, sitting in tight spots until daylight comes calling. Along with vision comes patience, another one of Achane’s strong suits. He allows his blocks to set up before attacking a hole — either the designed one or another that opened.
We can hit speed rapidly as we already know Achane is fast fast. He possesses nearly uncatchable, uncoachable long speed to reach the end zone once he slices through the first level. Whether it is as a runner, receiver, or even returner, Achane is a home-run threat. Whatever pursuit angle a defender chooses, the Texas native makes it the wrong one. But Achane isn’t a one-tempo runner. He can vary his foot speed behind the line of scrimmage or in space to earn an extra split-second to operate.
As for lateral agility, Achane is a shifty runner and displays little wasted movement when cutting backside, squeezing through gaps, or maneuvering in the backfield. His start/stop and change-of-direction ability and effortless acceleration allow him to turn holes into craters. And he has the ankle flexion to explode off one foot at a moment’s notice and instantly turn up field.
Unsurprisingly, Achane’s physical tools make him a dynamic weapon anywhere on the field. The Texas A&M RB effortlessly shakes first-level defenders and slips through contact. He is far from the biggest back at a listed 5’9″ and 185 pounds. But he carries his weight well, with most of it stemming from his lower body. Furthermore, Achane’s confidence, willingness to lower his shoulder, and contact balance create extra yardage. Thanks to his acceleration, he can blow through arm tackles, and his leg drive leads to a habit of falling forward.
Ball security isn’t an issue, as Achane protects the ball in traffic and is aware of looming threats. He fumbled on a 68-yard run against Auburn last year — his first across two collegiate seasons. He let his left arm stray ever so slightly away from his frame, giving the defender enough room to punch it out. It was a one-off mistake that Achane will ensure doesn’t happen again rather than a casual looseness with the ball.
Achane’s receiving production with the Aggies — 24 catches, 261 yards, and one TD — hasn’t matched his high school numbers. Yet, he’s reportedly worked on his route running and hands this offseason. Achane already showed the ability to track passes over his shoulder last season, and his speed makes him a mismatch against linebackers in man coverage.
Achane’s 202 career touches are minuscule compared to that of other top backs in the class. As a result, he will enter the NFL with relatively fresh legs. He also keeps his feet under his frame on quick cuts and breaks, saving himself from major injury.
Achane’s areas for improvement
As much as I appreciate Achane’s impressive skill set, his areas for improvement are not lost on me. Let’s discuss the elephant in the room: due to his size, Achane will never be a short-yardage or goal-line back. He lacks a power component to his game, and no team should expect him to move piles or break head-on contact.
While Achane’s receiving ability adds to his third-down viability, his pass blocking will be an issue. Now, blocking isn’t necessarily an area of emphasis in college and can be taught. But it’s a noticeable unchecked box on his scouting report. Although Achane is eager in this facet, the Texas A&M RB needs to work on his hand placement and leverage.
Along the same lines, Achane must acquire and hit his target with more consistency when chipping pass rushers. Sure, it’s not the biggest deal. But in the NFL, when you are tasked with an assignment, you better complete it if you want to stay on the field.
In the running game, there isn’t much not to like about Achane’s game. Nevertheless, he isn’t perfect. He sometimes preemptively targets the edge, missing on work up the middle. His vision is typically outstanding, but there are times when he doesn’t trust his blocking and cuts to a different gap too early, resulting in fewer yards gained. That’s especially detrimental as a smaller back that cannot generate yards by plowing over defenders.
Lastly, Achane’s lack of wear on his tires is a double-edged sword. We simply don’t know how much of a workload he can withstand. Achane recorded 15 or more touches just three times last season, and the most he had in a single game was 20.
That’s not to say he can’t be a workhorse — we just haven’t seen him in that role to this point. Nevertheless, with Spiller now a Los Angeles Charger, Texas A&M should feature Achane much more in 2023. The mere thought of that should leave fans salivating … and defensive coordinators shivering.
Current draft projection for Texas A&M RB Devon Achane
Early mock drafts have Achane going in the fourth round, according to Mock Draft Database. I’m much higher on the Texas A&M RB, as I believe he is a Day 2 prospect. If he meets or surpasses expectations as the Aggies’ RB1 in 2022, he could crack Round 2. Achane’s size limits his projection, but his skill set and physical gifts are tailor-made for today’s NFL.