AJ Dillon Draft Scouting Report


PigSkinNut thrives on its analytics and ability to give in-depth scouting reports. One of the players getting highlighted here is one of the promising prospects from the RB class. Give a look at the AJ Dillon scouting report to see exactly why he is climbing boards since the Combine.

Algiers Jameal ‘AJ” Dillon has decided to forgo his senior year at Boston College to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. In his three years at BC, Dillon broke the school freshman rushing record and was named ACC Rookie of the Year. He missed three games as a sophomore but still managed 1,685 yards, becoming the first Boston College player with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The power back holds the school’s all-time record for rushing yards, falling just 220 yards short of the ACC record. A former standout at Lawerence Academy in Massachusetts, he accumulated 4,382 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns on 845 carries. Scouts are unsure of his full potential since he has had quite a workload in college and isn’t a dual-threat RB.

Game Film Watched

10/5/19 vs Louisville   Notes: He makes a B-line for his gap and is hard to take down. Looks like a “bull”.

11/10/18 vs #2 Clemson   Notes: As a FB, he needs to not let contact come to him first.

9/29/18 vs Temple    Notes: He has a good, safe technique and practice as a power back/ battering ram

Player Summary

Dillon’s family has quite a history with collegiate football. His grandfather was Thom Gatewood, the first African-American team captain for Notre Dame. For the majority of his career, Dillon has played under the radar. Despite being the ACC Rookie of the Year and holding three school records, few of aware of him. He is an elite power back that looks like a battering ram on the field. The vision and knowledge he has on the field make him more than just a power runner. His frame (247 lbs, 6’0” tall) and brute strength give tacklers a challenge in bringing him down. For a guy that wasn’t too well known in college and is projected as a Day 3 pick, his name has been trending ever since the NFL Combine. If there was one player who used the platform of the Combine to his full advantage, it was Dillon.

Scouts know him as a power back but his 40-yard dash (4.53) was the 10th fastest from RB group. In retrospect, Melvin Gordon ran a 4.52. That’s quite the first-gear speed for a player like him. His vertical jump (41) and broad jump (131) were the best from the RBs. 23 reps on the bench press were the fifth-best. This is an above-average athlete with power and speed to match. The 3-cone drill was his weakest outing (7.19), being the 2nd-worst time. This came at no surprise though. One of his weaknesses is his agility and ability to make defenders miss with his footwork. The scouts have been giving him ample praise though from his performance, stating it really helped his draft stock.

  • Frame- built like a bus/ram
  • Vision/awareness on the field- not just a pure power runner
  • Can wear down defenses with ground/pound
  • Can take a heavy workload
  • Runs behind and trusts his blockers
  • Knowledgable about blocking schemes
  • Natural, pure power for yards after contact
  • Built well for most NFL schemes
  • Carries his weight well/great balance
  • Athleticism
  • Production- 42% of college starts had at least 150 yards
  • Goal-line scoring machine- 38 rushing touchdowns in college
  • Can Move Pile with legs
  • Effective in pass protection
  • Takes contact well, bounces off of soft tacklers
  • Decisive, especially behind blockers
  • Effective in pitch plays and outside zone runs
  • Solid stiff arm
  • Difficult to bring down one-on-one
  • heavy workload in college- 845 carries over three seasons
  • One-cut runner- poor agility
  • Needs to shed weight for more quickness
  • Can’t make defenders miss with jukes
  • Second-level speed is average at best
  • Route-running
  • Production as a pass-catcher- 21 catches over three seasons for 236 yards and 2 TDs
  • Reading defenses/acceleration off of a cut move
  • Needs to brush up fundamentals as FB
Draft Projection:

3rd Round ceiling- 5th Round Steal

Career Projection:

Like several other top prospects, Dillon had a very high number of carries. Durability is in question but he can thrive in the proper scenario. When he first declared for the draft, scouts weren’t too high on his durability. Still, Dillon coming out swinging in Indy made up for it and might have saved himself. There are comparisons to James Conner and some are even saying Derrick Henry. While he has similar characteristics to Henry, his 2nd-gear speed can’t compare and Henry has better footwork/agility. I see him has a younger, fresher Frank Gore with the grit of James Conner.

As it currently stands, Dillon has very few options in the NFL to be a full-time starter. There is no denying his talent but he isn’t a dual-threat. As a receiver, he isn’t reliable or effective. His prime situation is being used on short-yardage plays or on early downs. His nickname could become “Goal Line” by the end of his rookie season. That being said, he could still be a starter, just in a group setting. There is word that some teams are debating having him switch to a part-time RB, part-time FB role. His strength speaks of a FB but he does need to practice the fundamentals more if that is the case.

Wowing his team on special teams will solidify his spot on a roster. If he can play RB and FB, can contribute on special teams, and is a goal-line specialist, an NFL team will keep him around to see how they can best utilize him. It’s all about job security in this league.

Best Fits

The prime landing spot would be with a team with an established QB and a decent OL, or balanced offense. These are just some teams that could show interest and would fit Dillon as well:

Dallas- He could take the heavy load off of Zeke but would only go to Dallas in the later rounds

Miami- He could be the starter in the committee they already have

Buffalo- Would replace Gore as a younger version

Tampa Bay- Strong contributor in a group

Arizona- Starter in a committee

LA Chargers- Solid back-up/goal-line option behind Eckler

Kansas City- Strong committee contributor

NY Jets- This team is need of depth and talent at RB

Washington- This team needs depth and could benefit from someone like Dillon having a break-out career

Houston- His power is needed in their group of speedsters

The way he performed in Indianapolis took Dillon from being a 5th-round fringe pick to worthy of a third-round pick. No team should expect to bring him in to be their 3-down starter. That’s just not who he is. There is promise as a long-term player if used in a smart manner.

Comparison- James Conner

Dillon has the grit of Conner and both are specialists in the red zone. They run hard and with power, yes these are two different things. Conner has matured as a receiving back and while this is something Dillon can work on, it is one of his bigger weaknesses.


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