With the Super Bowl behind us, it's time to turn our attention to the NFL Draft and the incoming 2023 rookie class. Jonathan Fuller breaks down the pros and cons of Devon Achane as a dynasty prospect and what his role could look like in the NFL.
- Rookie Draft ADP: 14
- Underdog ADP: 138.7
Devon Achane is fast…like, really fast. In addition to being a star RB at Texas A&M, he was a three-time All-American in track. Achane even clocked in at 22.2 mph on a 96-yard kickoff return in 2021, which puts his speed among NFL elites per Next Gen Stats.
And as impressive as that is, Achane brings more to the table than just speed.
He broke out during his sophomore season in 2021, logging 1,171 total yards from scrimmage and leading the FBS (min. 100 attempts) with a gaudy 7.0 yards per carry (YPC) that year. Achane also posted a career-best 261 receiving yards on 24 catches that season, showcasing his ability to make big plays through the air as well as on the ground.
In 2022, his efficiency regressed, but Achane was handling a larger workload. He logged 196 carries for over 1,100 rushing yards, added 36 receptions for 196 receiving yards, and scored 11 total TDs.
Achane has all the indicators we want to see in an NFL prospect: young breakout age, production against elite competition, strong college dominator rating, and early declare status for the NFL Draft.
Despite all that, he's still been slipping to the second round of superflex dynasty rookie drafts as of late. Let’s take a closer look at his strengths and weaknesses to determine if he is a value in drafts right now.
Nov 5, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Devon Achane (6) runs the ball in the first half against the Florida Gators at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
One of the first things that stands out when watching Achane's film is how often defenders appear to take horrible angles when pursuing him. After a few minutes of seeing this over and over again, it became clear that they simply weren’t used to playing against that kind of speed, which is pretty impressive considering that Achane played in the SEC.
Funny enough, Achane’s speed was so hyped coming into the combine that his 4.32 40-yard dash time (best among this year's RBs) and 1.53 10-yard split time were both considered somewhat disappointing.
The fact remains that Achane has legit speed, even by NFL standards. Fortunately, he isn’t just a straight-line sprinter, either. Achane has the footwork, agility, and change-of-direction skills to avoid tackles and create yards.
And despite having played behind a mediocre offensive line in his final collegiate season, Achane was a capable inside runner who displayed good vision and patience. He doesn’t have the size or strength to move a pile, but Achane runs hard and has good contact balance, which should allow him to be an effective ball carrier at the next level with big-play potential anytime he touches the ball.
The other major strength of Achane’s game is his pass-catching ability.
He doesn’t have exceptional hands, but Achane is a good-enough pass-catcher to be a true mismatch as a receiver out of the backfield. He's a solid route-runner as well and can even occasionally line up in the slot.
NFL teams will want to get the ball into his hands in a variety of ways so that he can use his speed in space. Achane's versatility could be a key selling point for an organization to justify selecting him early on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
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Achane tipped the scales at the NFL Combine at 5’8 and 188 lbs., which is much smaller than most feature RBs in the NFL. As such, his landing spot and projected role will matter a lot.
Smaller players are increasingly able to play prominent roles in the NFL, but only so long as the coaching staff trusts them. A player like Achane runs the risk of being pigeon-holed into a passing-down role with minimal carries and no goal line work.
If he were to land in an ideal spot, Achane has room to rise in rookie drafts, but there's also a risk that he could find himself more in a Nyheim Hines type of role and be more impactful for his NFL team than in fantasy football.
Additionally, while Achane’s willingness to run inside and take contact is great from play to play and game to game, it does raise durability concerns for his career outlook.
Personally, I won’t penalize Achane for his smaller stature and will trust that his draft capital will reflect the level of concern NFL teams have about his longevity.
Achane is one of the riskier high-level prospects in this class, but he has enough upside to make him interesting at his current draft cost in both dynasty and best ball formats. He is currently my No. 4 RB in this rookie class and someone that I will consider drafting in the late first round of superflex rookie drafts.
Following the NFL Draft, it will be crucial to monitor reports from Achane's coaching staff about his expected role and usage.
Though he's unlikely to ever be a bell cow RB, Achane has a chance to handle 10 to 12 carries per week in addition to playing a major role in the passing game. If he can get that type of workload, Achane could carve out a very valuable role for fantasy purposes despite his size.