/NFL Scouting Combine Notebook: AJ Dillon Storms Up the Draft Board

NFL Scouting Combine Notebook: AJ Dillon Storms Up the Draft Board

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We’re here tonight to tell you about a very special running back.

Yuck. Haven’t you heard? Running backs don’t matter.

Hear us out. This back tips the scales at a burly 247 pounds.

Double yuck. Big backs wear down halfway through their rookie training camps. We’re only interested in Austin Ekeler types.

But this big back ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash Friday, with shocking jump results for a man his size: a 41-inch vertical and a 131-inch broad jump.

Wake us when you are finished spouting workout results.

And he’s the all-time leading rusher in Boston College history.

Wait, did you say Boston College? The past-its-prime program that produced running back draft busts William Green and Andre Williams? Is this a comedy routine? Are we on Impractical Jokers?

No, we’re dead serious, smarty-pants. We’re here to tell you about AJ Dillon, a running back who could be a better version of Derrick Henry.

You remember Henry, right? The Titans battering ram who nearly splintered the doors to the Super Bowl with one of the best postseason performances in history, right?

OK, we’re listening.

Dillon’s combine results are almost identical to Henry’s results from 2016.

Yeah well, who cares about combine results? It’s the tape that matters.

True. And Dillon’s tape is very, very good.

I’ll admit that when I started watching Dillon, I expected to see another Andre Williams: a slow-footed bruiser who pounded out a few yards at a time in Boston College’s lost-in-the-’70s offense. But Dillion is shockingly quick, with excellent vision and cutback ability. His receiving chops will need work after he caught just 21 passes in three seasons as a featured back, but Henry proved that a power back can still be a dangerous weapon in the right kind of offense.

And if you don’t like the Henry comparison, Dillon offered a few others when he spoke to the media Wednesday: “I like to take bits and pieces from people’s games,” he said. “I look at Le’Veon Bell’s patience, Leonard Fournette, the way he runs a ball with speed…the way he runs, it’s an aggressive running style, Saquon’s explosiveness, Steven Jackson back in the day with the Rams, that’s how he ran to not really be denied yards.”

Jackson and Fournette, it should be noted, also put up combine results similar to Dillon’s.

So you’re saying that Dillon is a top-10 pick because of his combine results?

[Sigh] No. we’re saying that Dillon is one of the most intriguing players in this draft class. He proved he belongs in the conversation with Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift and Ohio State’s J.K Dobbins to be the first running back off the board. Dillon can make an instant impact, and if you are worried about a big back’s workloadas you should be—then it’s better to get one in his rookie contract than wait four years and splurge in free agency for someone like, say, the real Derrick Henry.

Anything else?

Yeah, his grandfather is former Notre Dame receiver Thom Gatewood. You can see Gatewood catching a touchdown pass from Joe Theismann in the 1971 Cotton Bowl a little after the two-and-a-half-minute mark of this video.

OK, That’s really random. But this Dillon guy does sound pretty good. Did anyone else stand out at the combine Friday?

Read on, dear friends. Read on.

Fair enough. We’ll keep an eye on this Dillon guy.