The Green Bay Packers added a running back in the second round of the NFL draft, taking Boston College’s A.J. Dillon with the 62nd overall pick.
Dillon, who rushed for over 4,000 yards at Boston College, is a terrific athlete and a big-time tackler breaker at 247 pounds.
Here’s what a few prominent draft analysts had to say about Dillon during the pre-draft process:
Dane Brugler, The Athletic (draft guide): “Built like a brick house, Dillon has some freaky elements to his game with his combination of size, strength and straight-line speed, allowing him to run physical through contact. However, he has heavy feet in his redirect, struggling to string together moves and cleanly navigate through traffic. Overall, Dillon’s inconsistent pad level, creativity and third-down skills are concerns, but he is an athletic workhorse and chore to finish to the ground, projecting as a one-cut NFL power back.”
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: “Built like a minibus but possessing enough vision and finesse to avoid being pigeon-holed as just a pure power back. Dillon is capable of handling heavy workloads and wearing down defenses, but there is a concern from evaluators that it’s taken a physical toll on him. He’s a disciplined runner who trusts his blocking scheme and follows his rush track. He’s a good one-cut runner with below-average wiggle but natural power to create yards after contact. Dillon will find more space as he faces fewer loaded boxes as a pro, but dropping weight and adding quickness could be the difference between a future as a committee back or starter.”
Mike Renner, Pro Football Focus (draft guide): “I’ll say this about Dillon, watching a playlist of all the tackles he broke last year sure is a fun way to pass time. His combination of size and speed makes for one of the best truck sticks you’ll ever see. That being said, the truck stick isn’t much of a consistent weapon in the NFL. You need a few more tools in your toolbox at the running back position to succeed. Dillon’s agility and ability to make sharp cuts is sorely lacking. Outside of goal-line or short yardage situations, I’m not sure Dillon brings much to the table
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Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: “Dillon won’t be a perfect fit for every scheme, but he could be a powerful starting running back who will pair with a third-down pass-catcher. Dillon has a little Derrick Henry to his game given his size and speed, which could be intriguing as some offenses adapt to go bigger against smaller defenses.”
Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network: “AJ Dillon projects best as a gap/power rusher at the NFL level. Dillon is at his best as a deep set back who can collect momentum working into the POA and carry his burst through the hole. Asking him to slow play, press the line and read/accelerate out of a cut takes away many of his appealing qualities. In a perfect world, Dillon is a short yardage specialist and/or early down back who can churn out tough yards and keep the offense on schedule with the sticks.”
Joe Marino, The Draft Network: “His blend of size, speed and power made him a difficult challenge as he ripped through ACC defenses. With that said, his next level projection isn’t that exciting. Dillon’s lack of technique pressing the line of scrimmage is concerning and he won’t be able to shred NFL defenses just because he is big and fast. Now if Dillon can develop more timing, processing and nuance then he has a chance to be a productive NFL runner that excels between the tackles and in pass protection. Unfortunately, Dillon also needs development as a receiver where his hands don’t appear natural and he wasn’t afforded many chances to catch the football in college. It’s unlikely he becomes a strong route runner that creates separation from linebackers. If Dillon’s NFL offense can get him the football in quick hitting runs where runways are created for him then he can find a role, but there are limitations in his game and what he does well isn’t of great value in today’s NFL. Finding a role on special teams, excelling in short yardage and developing his technique are critical.”
Patrick Conn, Draft Wire: “Dillon is a handful at the running back position. He shows good contact balance and won’t go down on first contact. Physical enough to throw defenders off of him as he continues the run. Will be a good backup runner until he can add pass catching to his game. He fits best as a red zone and short yardage back at the NFL level.”
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