Devon Achane Draft Profile
In the world of scouting, Texas kids are always held at a higher standard, and it is because of players like Devon Achane. Born in Missouri City, Texas, Achane went to Thurgood Marshall High School where he starred as a two-sport athlete for both football and track. As a senior in high school, Achane was named Texas’ Gatorade Track athlete of the year while also being rated as a four-star football prospect. In his first two seasons at Texas A&M, Achane sat behind Chargers running back, Isaiah Spiller, and made his name as a special teams contributor and as Spiller’s reliever. Once Spiller got drafted, Achane stepped in without any drop-off. Achane carried the load in Jimbo Fisher’s base zone-running scheme, while still returning kicks and being a gunner on the punt team. The willingness that Achane has to participate on special teams shows his competitiveness and will always carve him a spot on an NFL roster, but I believe he’ll be more than just a “special teams guy” in the league.
For every prospect I am always looking for a separator— what distinguishes this player from everybody else at his position? For Devon Achane, it is his feet. He has what I call “humming-bird feet”; just like a humming-bird’s wings, Achane’s feet are always moving at a rapid pace. It allows him to run through contact and avoid taking too many big hits. While his feet are extremely impressive, his ankle mobility is jaw-dropping. His ability to transfer weight while moving and change directions is special. For teams that use a base zone-running scheme, his ability to redirect his path is extremely enticing. In the modern-day game, the biggest concern with running backs who’ve taken a lot of carries is their ability to stay healthy. As I mentioned earlier, Achane does not take a ton of big hits despite rushing the ball 200 times this past season in the SEC. Part of it is because he doesn’t stop his feet through contact, but it is really because he is a smart player. He has an inherent awareness of angles, and how to create arm tackles and split defenders. While his feet are antsy, he’s naturally a patient runner that knows how to set up his blocks. It is rare to see a running back as polished as Achane is in pass protection. His ability to mirror defenders, use his shorter leverage, and roll his hips over when blocking is a little bit surprising considering he had to face defenses like Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss. What Achane does as a blocker and on special teams is going to position him to get a lot of production from day one.
While Achane is an easy running back to be “wow-ed” by, there are a few things that would pull me back a little bit. From the five games that I watched his every snap (LSU, Florida, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Alabama), I didn’t see his breakaway speed. I am concerned he has more track-speed than football speed. When it comes to his vision, he does a good job at exploding laterally, but he struggles with hitting his hole. He bounces a lot of runs, rather than going down hill; the lack of decisiveness to turn upfield takes away easy yards. When he is in space one-on-one with a defender, he doesn’t have the “run you over” threat that you want in your running backs. He doesn’t capitalize on one-on-one opportunities, this is worrisome especially in short-yardage situations where he is going to have to meet a defender in the hole. As a receiver out of the backfield, Achane needs to develop as a route runner. His ability to change directions should allow him to become more of a threat, but it is something he will need to work on. For these reasons, I don’t anticipate Achane being an every down back throughout his career.
Devon Achane offers some rare traits that zone-running scheme teams can take advantage of. While I don’t think he is a modern-day every down back, I do believe he will be an impact player on offense and special teams right away. His feet and ankle-flexion remind me a lot of Jets running back Michael Carter. I believe the Rams, Falcons, and Bears are three teams that could maximize Achane’s ability as a runner. Based off the trend of running back draft spots, I have a mid to late third round grade on Achane, but I anticipate him going a little higher than I have him graded. The natural mobility of Achane’s lower half, the toughness and competitiveness he demonstrates in pass-protection and special teams, and the ability to create arm tackles is what separates Achane from every other running back in this year’s draft.
Play Strength + Toughness: 10/12
Long Speed + Lateral Speed: 8.25/10
Feet + Change of Direction: 9.75/10
Quickness + Open Field: 8.5/10
Burst + Acceleration: 6.25/8
Receiving Ability: 4.5/6
Athletic Ability: 4/5
Final Rating: 84
Pro Comparison: Michael Carter
Draft Projection: Late Second Round - Early Third Round
Draft Grade: Mid Third Round - Late Third Round
Team Fits: Falcons, Rams, Bears