Zach Charbonnet 2023 NFL Draft profile: Scout report for the UCLA RB
Zach Charbonnet: 6’1”, 220 pounds.
A top-50 overall recruit in 2019, Zach Charbonnet had a pretty good debut campaign for Michigan with 149 carries for 726 yards and 11 touchdowns. He then barely saw the field as a sophomore and transferred ahead of the 2021 season.
At UCLA he had a fulminant start and put together a strong 12-game season, running it 202 times and catching 24 passes for 1,334 total yards and 13 touchdowns, making him a second-team All-Pac-12 selection.
Last year, he improved to the first-team and earned the AP spot on the second-team All-American squad by putting up 1,680 yards and 14 TDs, increasing his average yards per carry (7.0) and reception (8.7).
Zach Charbonnet scout report: Strengths
+ Runs with incredible balance and force, but also has impressive feet in tight space to navigate traffic.
+ Stays true to the run concept and trusts the blocking for the most part, while manipulating defenders to run themselves to the wrong side of blocks.
+ Shows the patience and awareness to maximize his lanes to run through, leaning towards where a defender is leveraged and then slicing underneath it, And he’s become better at changing up his pace and navigating through tight areas.
+ Can drop his hips and execute jump-cuts after getting the defense to commit as well as anybody in the country.
+ Operates from a wide base and sinks in his hips as he’s approaching the line vertically and picks his spots with plus vision and short-area agility.
+ Has a way of contorting his body to avoid getting hung up in traffic and navigating around it without running himself into a safety waiting for him.
+ Will never go down without a fight. A lot of times you will see him with his back to the pile and push off the ground to move forward.
+ Charbonnet’s ability to bang his shoulder into the chest of tacklers and the relentless leg-drive allows him to consistently churn out extra yards through contact.
+ Rarely takes away his own momentum, pulls his legs through wrap attempts, and if you do get in his way after he is able to build up steam, the likelihood is that you’ll get run over.
+ This guy’s balance is pretty insane, I’ve seen him be completely airborne around tacklers at times and still land on his feet to keep moving.
+ Packs a wicked stiff-arm, which I’ve seen him beat defenders on the edge in one-on-one tackling situations with, as he decides to cut back and work around them.
+ Last year he averaged 4.2 yards after contact and forced 52 missed tackles.
+ Has some shocking pull-away burst, to where he’s gaining ground on safeties, and his 26 carries of 15+ yards ranked fifth among draft-eligible RBs.
+ Showcases some pretty soft hands to not bobble catches at all, which had him only dropping two of 39 catchable targets in 2022.
+ Instantly gets upfield after securing the catch and knifes through defenders converging on him on.
+ Sets up screen plays tremendously well and understands how to utilize linemen out in front accordingly.
+ Carries play-fakes in a very deceptive way and lands some solid chips from the side before releasing into check-downs.
+ Does a nice job of striking through the inside shoulders of blitzers and forcing them to take a wider path consistently.
Zach Charbonnet scout report: Weaknesses
– When going (completely) horizontal and having to make that instant cut upfield as he spots penetration, Charbonnet doesn’t have that ability to plant hard off one leg. He rather patters his feet and loses time in the backfield and at times gets tackled for loss because of it.
– Watching him after some of the dynamic movers at the position in this class, there’s a lack of lateral suddenness to swiftly change lanes or make people miss in tight quarters.
– Almost exclusively was used on swing routes and flare-outs when part of the pattern, so we don’t really have a sample size to look at for him being used down the field.
– The few times he was assigned with routes that included a break, he seemed to lack the quick-twitch to consistently separate. When UCLA flexed out defense, they simply locked Charbonnet on the outside and had him just stand there basically on one-step hitches.
Zach Charbonnet scout report: Grade
Zach Charbonnet may not have the same kind of dynamic skill-set as the two guys in front of him, but I would argue he’s best pure runner in this entire class.
He’s a legit 220+ pounds and enforces himself physically on defenses, but he’ll make guys miss and run away from them in a hurry if you don’t respect that part of his game. His usage in the passing game was very simplistic, but there’s nothing wrong with his hands from what I’ve seen on tape and if he can still work on sustaining blocks in blitz-pickup, he can be a legit three-down back.
These last two years, he’s earned PFF rushing grades of 91.9 and 92.3 respectively, to strengthen his case for being a top-50 selection in the draft.
Grade: Top-50 overall.
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