There is a faint rumbling of a resurgence from the running back position in today’s NFL. With defenses adjusting to pass-happy offenses, running backs of old may be in short supply and high demand in the coming years. The top running backs at the 2023 Shrine Bowl could find themselves making an impact sooner as opposed to later in the NFL.
Top 2023 Shrine Bowl Running Back NFL Draft Prospects
1) Tavion Thomas, Utah
A bully with the ball and a downright difficult man to tackle, Tavion Thomas should put on a display at the Shrine Bowl. He’s a big man with a nimble elusiveness around his game.
Thomas had early issues in his Utah career with fumbles, but he’s clearly put those behind him and is ready to showcase his fan-friendly rushing style to the world in Vegas. He’s a big man at 6’2″ and 238 pounds but moves like he’s much smaller at times, with no loss of strength.
2) Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota
Simply put, Mohamed Ibrahim is what makes the running back position so much fun to watch. After a disappointing injury sidelined him for all but one game of 2021, Ibrahim proved he’s still got it with his third career 1,000-yard rushing season and his best year to date in 2022 with Minnesota.
Ibrahim has a ground-and-pound style, where he sticks his foot in the dirt and hammers the ball through defenders’ chests. There’s a lot to like about his game, and with over 4,500 career rushing yards, he still has a lot left to give.
3) Travis Dye, USC
When you look up “old school running backs” in the dictionary, a picture of Travis Dye should pop up. A bounding, physical back, Dye looks the part physically and aesthetically as he dons no extra equipment nor needs assistance in churning out big plays with the ball in his hands.
An injury prematurely ended his USC career, but after four years at Oregon and a dominant year with the Trojans, Dye is one of the most productive running backs of this generation. He’s out to showcase that he’s healthy and can make an impact in Year 1.
4) Xazavian Valladay, Arizona State
You probably didn’t hear much about Xazavian Valladay until he transferred to Arizona State this past year, and frankly, that’s a shame. The big back ran wild over the Mountain West Conference for four seasons with Wyoming before putting forth a career year with the Sun Devils in 2022.
In total, Valladay ran for nearly 4,500 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns in a great collegiate career. He can make defenders miss with his tackle-breaking ability, both as an elusive style runner and a physical, dominant back.
5) Jordan Mims, Fresno State
Taking over for historical greatness in the form of Ronnie Rivers, the Fresno State Bulldogs saw little change in production with Jordan Mims at running back in 2022. Mims ran the rock for over 1,300 yards and had 18 touchdowns, pushing his career rushing TD total to a whopping 37 over his five-year Fresno State tenure.
Mims is a difficult man to tackle and has breakaway speed when he’s in the open field.
Other Running Backs To Monitor at the Shrine Bowl
- Deneric Prince, Tulsa
- Derek Parish, FB/DE, Houston
- Jack Colletto, FB/TE, Oregon State
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