- Name: Zach Charbonnet
- School: UCLA
- Year: Senior
- Position: Running Back
- Size: 6’1″ 222 lbs.
Charbonnet is one of the top running backs in the 2023 draft class. The big man out of Oaks Christian School in California initially committed to the University of Michigan as the number four running back recruit in the entire country. He burst onto the college football scene with a freshman season in which he ran for over 700 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. The touchdowns were a Michigan freshman record. Despite the early success, he fell out of favor with Harbaugh and the staff in his sophomore season, playing in only five games and totaling a little over 100 yards and a single score. After this setback, he entered the transfer portal and headed back west to UCLA.
It was with the Bruins that Charbonnet made his mark, racking up big numbers on his way to second-team All-Pac 12 honors. Many had Charbonnet as one of the hottest names heading into the 2022 NFL draft when he unexpectedly decided to return to school for his final season. The decision paid off as he bettered his numbers across the board en route to first-team All-Pac 12 and first-team All-American honors. You can see his career stats below.
Heading into the 2023 NFL draft Charbonnet will likely be one of the top running backs to come off the board. He is a weapon in every facet of the game. To give you a better idea of the type of player he is, we will now dive into the film.
Film Breakdown Pros
The first thing that stands out when watching the film on Charbonnet is the power with which he runs. In style reminiscent of perennial Pro Bowl RB Nick Chubb, the UCLA star runs behind his pads and fights for extra yards. Several examples of his power are in the running and passing games below.
For a man who runs with good power, he still maintains some nice wiggle. On his way to the house, you can see him pull a shimmy shake on the safety below. I don’t expect him to look like Barry Sanders at the NFL level, but I do see some shades of Jerome Bettis with how light he is on his feet.
While nobody will ever confuse Charbonnet with Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara, he is functional as a pass catcher out of the backfield. I wouldn’t expect to see him running wheel routes down the field or anything like that, but as you can see below, he can provide some viability to the passing attack when he is on the field.
Film Breakdown Cons
Overall, I believe Charbonnet is a rock-solid NFL prospect. However, some flaws in his game could get him in trouble at the next level. The first thing that stands out to me is his running style. While he runs with speed and power, he does tend to be an upright runner. This has worked for running backs like Latavius Murray and Demarco Murray in the past, but it could lead him to take some big hits at the next level. You can see an example below where the secondary player gets a shot on his lower legs.
Another somewhat nitpicky area is that Charbonnet seems to run at one speed. He runs like he has been shot out of a cannon. Depending on the situation, he doesn’t seem to have the gears to ramp up and down. He is full throttle the minute he touches the ball.
After studying Charbonnet, I came away impressed. He has the potential to be a solid player at the NFL level for years to come. He has excellent size and speed that rival anybody in the league. While not a dynamic pass catcher in the mold of a CMC, he has shown the ability to stay on the field on third downs. He will be a weapon when his team gets to the goal line. I see his game being very similar to an early career Ryan Matthews. He should put on a show at the NFL combine if he competes.
I anticipate Charbonnet being drafted in the early middle rounds of the NFL draft and somewhere between the first and second round turn in your Superflex dynasty drafts. Look for this kid to make an impact on Sundays starting next season.
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