Devon Achane draft profile

All Aboard the A Train

Texas A&M running back, Devon Achane is probably one of the fastest players in the 2023 draft. NFLDraftBuzz lists Achane's 40 time at 4.24 seconds. In high school, Achane (pronounced "A-Chain") ran the fastest 200 meter time in the country (granted, Covid disrupted the track season that year.) He also ran track in college and qualified for the NCAA championships in the 100 meters (he finished last in the field, but he also ran a wind aided 10.02 seconds and his best official time is 10.4 seconds. He ran the 200 meters in 20.2 seconds and the 60 meters in 6.63 seconds.) If you enjoy fast 40 times, and I know some of you TST fans do, Achane is one of the top prospects to watch at the Combine.

On draft boards, Achane is typically ranked as the 3rd best RB in the draft. Mel Kiper ranked him as the 2nd best running back, behind only Bijan Robinson. Should he be getting more love on TST? I don't recall anyone mentioning him as a top Rams target. Is Achane the next Chris Johnson?

Shanahan's RBs

After seeing players like Raheem Mostert (4.34 seconds), Matt Breida (4.38 seconds) and Elijah Mitchell (4.35 seconds) all succeed with the Niners, it makes me wonder if all we need to say about Achane is he's very fast. Is pure speed becoming the single most important trait a RB can have in today's NFL?

Mostert was on the track team at Purdue. His best 60 meter time is exactly the same as Achane's. Mostert also was a great kick returner in college, but had very little rushing or receiving production. He bounced around on several teams before finally landing with the Niners as his 7th NFL team in 2 years. Mostert has averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his pro career.

Shanahan's teams haven't always run the ball effectively. In some of his years as an OC, he oversaw some of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL. In those years, the main problem was his OL ranked very low in run blocking. In 2011, Washington was 30th in run blocking. Sean McVay was the TE's coach that year, so maybe it was all his fault for not teaching the TEs to block better.

One of Shanahan's most productive RB's, Alfred Morris, only ran the 40 in 4.67 seconds. So, maybe speed isn't everything. Still, I wonder if the pro game has evolved over the years and I need to adjust the way I think about and evaluate RBs to keep up with the times.


Name: Devon Achane, True Junior, early entrant, declared for draft, turns 22 years old next October.

School: Texas A&M

Size: Listed 5'9'' tall, 185 pounds. SI has him at 5'8 1/4'' tall.

4 star recruit from Texas. Track star in high school, named Texas POY in track in 2019. Fastest 200 meter prep runner in the country and was part of record setting sprint relay teams. Successful college sprinter at TXAM despite splitting his time between football and track.

Backup to Isaiah Spiller (4th rd 2022) until the 2022 season.

2020 (8 games) 43-364-4 (8.5 ave), 5-97-1 receiving, zero fumbles

2021 (12 games) 130-910-9 (7.0 ave), 24-261-1 receiving, 1 fumble

2022 (10 games) 196-1,102-8 (5.6), 36-196-3, 1 fumble

A&M had a number of injuries and one of the key losses was Ainias Smith, a hybrid slot WR/RB, who broke his leg early in the 2022 season. This injury probably increased Achane's workload, but it also focused more attention on him as the offense wasn't able to be more balanced. It was a tough season for A&M and their execution on offense was poor. Jimbo Fisher was heavily criticized for the offensive scheme. IMO, it was a combination of both. The scheme had issues, but also the players constantly were making silly mistakes within the system.

Career 6.4 yard average. 2 career fumbles on 434 offensive touches, one every 217 touches, a very low fumble rate.

Excellent kick returner. Had a 95 yard KR for TD in 2022 and a 96 yard KR for a TD against Alabama in 2021.

Had a foot injury in 2022, missing 2 games, wore a protective boot.

ESPN 3rd RB, 50th overall prospect (2nd rd)

CBSSports 3rd RB, 67th overall (late 2nd to 3rd)

PFF 5th RB, 77th overall (Tucker, Gibbs, Achane and Bigsby are all bunched up, very close together in their rankings)

Drafttek 2nd RB, 35th overall (early 2nd)

Draftcountdown (Shane Hallam) 7th RB, 93rd (late 3rd)

NFLDraftBuzz 6th RB, 96th (late 3rd to 4th)

PFN 3rd RB, 50th overall (2nd rd)

PFN sim 7th RB, 75th overall (3rd)

NFLmockdraftdatabase sim 5th RB, 66th overall (early 3rd)

NFLDraftBuzz says he's elusive, pogo stick quick back. Electifying, very good vision. Knack for high pointing the ball on catches. Looks to bounce outside too often. Ran many fly sweeps. Offers little in pass protection, fails to slow down blitzers.

PFN says he's patient, has uncatchable and uncoachable long speed. Shifty, little wasted movement, blows through arm tackles. Protects ball in traffic. Prematurely goes outside, missing openings in middle. Cuts to wrong gap too early.

Sports Illustrated says he's stellar in tight spaces, patient and presses the hole. Runs with forward lean. Eager and competitive in pass protection. Looks for edge too often, missing on opportunities in middle. Last summer they gave him a 2nd round grade.


Has "what was that blur?" type of speed, ball deep in own territory, a huge area opens up for him and he hits the accelerator, zooming past the defenders, burning their pursuit angles, finally brought down about 60 yards later. Electric, quick cuts can unlock the defense. Elusive going against the 1st defender. Speed to beat defenders to the corner.

Uses speed appropriately, doesn't run so fast that he can't make moves, knows when to change speeds and turn it on. Jump cuts effective even against talented defenders. Defense blitzes against power run. The pulling G is in the path of the RB, while the LB runs by the 2nd level block to penetrate into the backfield. Many RBs would be in trouble, but Achane's combination of both short area burst and lateral agility allows him to corner without losing too much speed, avoiding the TFL, then go upfield and gain good yardage.

Creativity to set up 2nd level defenders with initial cut, then beat them with a 2nd cut.

Has very good skills as a kick returner. Uses his blocks well. Quick and sudden feet, baits coverage team defenders into diving, can dodge tackles. Plenty of juice to burst through openings. The type of KR you don't want to get a chance to field the ball.

Runs with forward lean, which helps with ball security, the angle of his upper body combined with his short stature making it more difficult for defenders to hit or rip at the ball. Switched the ball to the proper arm as he cut to the right and it was lucky he did, because just as he transferred it the DT punched right where the ball would have been if he had kept it in his left hand.

His short area burst sometimes makes up for his lack of size. Instead of needing to power through arm tackles, his speed can allow him to get through the hole before the defender can grab him. One run, the DL's hand is literally inches away, but only comes up with empty air. Slips out of TFLs.

Has a naturally low center of gravity, good contact balance. Short, efficient steps, light on his feet.

Releases quickly out of the backfield into route. Can extend arms behind him to catch off target pass. Jumped up and caught the ball over a defender.

Gave good effort trying to sustain downfield block. Willing blocker, stepped up to meet blitzer coming off the corner.

He could have ended his career after his 2022 injury and just focused on the draft, but instead he returned to play in the LSU game and had a huge performance, with 215 yards.

Jimbo Fisher is known for having a very large and complicated playbook. Might be better prepared than other RBs who only have experience in very simplistic offensive schemes.

It was very frustrating to watch how he was used as a receiver. I felt his speed was wasted due to lack of creativity in the design of the passing plays. Often only ran out to the flat or had extremely basic routes where he ran to a spot and turned around.

Has an upbeat, positive, confident personality.

Trained for both track and football in college. Focus wasn't 100% on football, so there might be additional developmental potential if he only did one sport.

Likely to be viewed as a "change of pace" RB in the NFL. While he doesn't have the all around game desired for a starter, his big play ability could be valuable to a team as the RB2 or in a RB by committee system.

Most small RBs have poor fumble rates, but he rarely fumbled in college.

A backup player multiple years in college who doesn't have much mileage on the tires or a long injury history. About a year younger than a typical prospect.

The NFL is becoming a game played in space and Achane's combination of explosive speed and good elusiveness is a perfect fit for the current offensive trend. The line between RBs and WRs has become blurred. While Achane right now isn't overly dangerous as a receiver, if he can clean up some things in that area of his game, he could be a dangerous dual threat.


Unable to create good separation as a route runner. Footwork is not precise, making it easy for the defender to read the route like a book. Doesn't display a good understanding of how to create leverage. No deception at the break point. On short route, he had enough space and time to run a pivot route to get away from the coverage, but he just stands right in front of the defender. I don't know if that is poor coaching or poor awareness by the player, maybe a combination of both. If the QB moves outside of the pocket to extend, RB is not good at working to get open and present himself as available target.

Impatient, doesn't have great feel for the most efficient angle to take to get to the hole. On a gap run, he runs up the back of his pull blocker, causing him to take more of a zig zag path, not a straight line, slowing him down instead of being able to reach the hole at full speed.

On wide zone run, he should have gone up middle, but he tries to go outside and it is a TFL. On gap run, the outside edge was wide open, he should have followed the pulling blockers to the right side, but instead the RB cuts to the left. Should have gone to the left on a power run, but bends the run back to the other side instead. On wide zone, the proper read says to go inside of the RT, but the RB bounces the run outside, even though the defender clearly has gap containment, resulting in almost no gain. On a gap run, if the RB had just been patient, a nice crease would have developed up the middle, but the RB bounces it all the way outside too early and loses about 5 yards. Should have immediately cut back on zone run when he got the ball, but he doesn't see it early enough. Huge cutback hole on wide zone, but RB very late to cut into it. Tries to run outside even though the defender clearly has outside leverage to set the edge, resulting in a loss of 6 yards. Instead of trying to get back to the LOS if the OL is beaten, the RB converts 0 to -1 yard runs into -5 type runs.

Medium 3rd down, a critical juncture of a tight game in the 4th quarter against Alabama, in Bama territory. There is a big cutback lane to the right, but he presses too far to the frontside, gaining 3 yards. If he had read it and cut appropriately he had a good shot at getting the 1st down. Small mistakes like that might not seem like much (over the course of a season, what is the difference of 3 yards? Who cares if you run for 1,000 yards or 1,003 yards, right? But in situational football, that "small" error can be the difference between winning and losing the football game.)

Inconsistent hands. Dropped pass on his back shoulder, appears to have small hands. Dropped pass out in front of him.

Frequently completely whiffs on chip blocks, angle entering the block is not precise. Poor awareness not chip blocking a DT before the RB released into his route. Almost always goes for a cut block, even against defensive backs. Gets overpowered and driven backwards or thrown off as blocker. Defense disguises who is rushing and then use a twist up front, the RB gets confused who to help block, resulting in pressure right in the face of the QB. Fell asleep vs blitz, defender 100% free to the QB.

Too small, can't hammer it into the middle. Gets stuffed in short yardage situations. Gets tripped up by diving ankle tackles.

Due to good blocking from the OL or mistakes by the defenses, on some runs there were enormous gaps, not just truck size, but so big you could have driven multiple trucks through them. In NFL football, a RB would almost never see openings that large.

Scheme was almost all shotgun snaps in 2022.

Right hand dominant, sometimes has ball in RH going to the left side of the field. Ball is not high and tight to chest, there is some opportunity to punch it out and maybe it is just my imagination, but when the ball is in his left hand it seems like it can drift even lower than when in his RH. He doesn't quickly and smoothly transfer the ball from one hand to the other, sometimes it takes an extra movement before the ball is securely in the 2nd hand and at the NFL level that creates an opportunity to knock the ball free while it is in transit.

His athleticism fits as a zone scheme RB, but he doesn't show good feel and instincts to read zone runs properly.

Due to rule changes and better kickers, a kick returner isn't as valuable in today's NFL.

Interviews not impressive. I know the NFL isn't a debate team and you don't get points for being good at talking to reporters, but I do appreciate it when a player shows an advanced level of how to be a pro or the intricacies of the game when talking about football.

Draft Grade and Pro Comp

4th round grade. (Jerick McKinnon, 4th round 2014, Vikings, Georgia Southern)

Fast guys often go in the 3rd to 4th round range. Dri Archer was a 3rd round pick by the Steelers in 2014. He ran 4.26 seconds at the Combine. Jeremy Langford's 4.42 second 40 was the fastest among RBs who ran at the 2015 Combine and he went in the 4th round to the Bears (Todd Gurley didn't run, due to his injury.) Tyler Ervin (4.41 seconds) was a 4th round pick by the Texans in 2016, about 2 rounds earlier than I thought he was going to get drafted. Last year was an abnormally fast draft class for RBs and there were several fast RBs still available deep into Day 3. The Rams passed on a number of those guys when they grabbed Kyren Williams.

McKinnon ran 4.41 seconds at the Combine (on the telecast, they had his unofficial time as 4.35 seconds.) The Niners signed McKinnon in 2018 and he was expected to be the starting RB, but he tore his ACL in camp. The Niners suffered through a disappointing 4-12 season that year. He had knee problems in camp the following year and went on IR, missing his 2nd straight year. Without him, the Niners nearly won the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. This season, he's had some explosive plays and has 54 catches for 512 yards for the Chiefs. He's 4th on their team in receiving yards. If McKinnon hadn't gotten hurt, I wonder where he'd rank among Kyle Shanahan's RBs and whether Christian McCaffrey would still be a Niner today.

Achane is a bit rough around the edges, but he has substantial upside potential and I expect a large number of NFL teams will be interested in drafting him. Offensive coaches are addicted to speed and Achane has it in spades.