If it was 1999, then Boston College running back A.J. Dillon might be a hotter draft prospect.
But as the yards continue to pile up, Dillon has seen his stock remain in the Day 2 to Day 3 range – and it may be trending down.
Dillon, a 6-foot, 250-pound junior, was recently named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2019 Doak Walker Award, along with another ACC running back, Clemson junior Travis Etienne.
Thus far, Dillon has a healthy lead over Etienne for most rushing yards in the conference, with 1,507 yards compared to Etienne’s 1,335. Etienne, though, is considered the better prospect, with most draft evaluators pegging the 5-foot-10, 210 pounder as a likely Day 2 pick.
Dillon is seen as more of a Day 3 pick.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) October 27, 2019
The problem may lie with Dillon’s yards-per-carry average. He’s carried the ball an NCAA-leading 286 times this season, or more than 67 more carries than the next-closest running back in the ACC. To put it in perspective, Etienne – who leads the ACC with 14 TDs to Dillon’s 13 – has carried the ball 139 times.
And therein lies the problem: Etienne averages a conference- and NCAA-leading 8.7 yards per carry. Dillon’s 5.3 YPC average puts him 11th in the conference.
His last four games illustrate the challenge when projecting Dillon’s draft stock.
Dillon rushed for a season-high 245 yards and had 3 touchdowns Nov. 2 in the team’s 58-27 win over Syracuse, but that came on 35 carries. He followed that performance up with 167 yards rushing on a career-high 40 carries (and no touchdowns) in the team’s 38-31 loss to Florida State.
The Syracuse game was preceded by a loss to Clemson, when Dillon carried the ball 19 times for 76 yards and 1 TD. He had season-lows in carries (14) and yards (56) in last weekend’s loss to Notre Dame.
The Bleacher Report says Dillon’s lack of explosion will keep him from being one of the top running backs selected in the 2019 draft, should he decide to declare early.
“Between the speed backs like J.K. Dobbins and D’Andre Swift and stud big backs like (Zack) Moss and Jonathan Taylor, as well as guys who can do both like Chuba Hubbard and Najee Harris, where does Dillon fall in the draft? Big backs like him normally aren’t taken high,” the Bleacher Report says in its latest draft risers and fallers report.
“If Dillon does decide to come out, he could be a fourth-round pick, and that’s not high enough for a player of his ilk. Dillon already has accomplished a ton on the collegiate level, and he would risk injury coming back, but what kind of prospect is he?”