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2023 NFL Draft Profile: UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet

The big UCLA running back could be an intriguing option for the Broncos.

USC v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

One prospect who may interest the Denver Broncos in the 2023 NFL Draft is former UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet. He is a 6’0”, 214-pound running back who is considered one of the better backs in the entire NFL Draft. The Draft Network has Charbonnet ranked as their third-best running back in the draft and their 71st overall player in the entire draft.

He spent two seasons at Michigan before transferring to UCLA where he became a star for their team. During his two seasons at UCLA, Charbonnet totaled 2,496 yards rushing, 27 rushing touchdowns and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He also was a weapon in the passing game where he totaled 61 receptions for 518 yards. This past season, he totaled 1,359 yards, 14 touchdowns, and averaged 7.0 yards per carry. He also totaled 37 receptions for 321 yards

Player Profile

Height: 6’0” | Weight: 214 pounds | 40-time: 4.53 seconds

Arm Length: 32” | Hands: 9 7/8”

Vertical Jump: 37” | Broad Jump: 10’2” | Bench Press: 18 reps

Film Room

Scouting Report


  • Good size and strength for a running back
  • A powerful runner who remains balanced through hits
  • Runs through arm tackles and is good in short-yardage situations
  • Good vision and has cut back ability
  • Has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field
  • Has good speed and builds up speed as he goes as a downhill runner
  • A reliable receiver who has been split out wide
  • Great ball security
  • Willing pass blocker
  • A good locker room player who is known to have a high football IQ
  • Three down back potential


  • An upright runner who will need to lower his pad level at the next level
  • Lacks initial burst and is more of a build-up speed runner
  • A stiff runner who does not have that wiggle you look for in a back
  • Sometimes dances too much at the line of scrimmage
  • Lacks that elite second gear as a running back

Zach Charbonnet’s RAS

What other analysts are saying about UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet

Upright runner with outstanding body composition and consecutive seasons of impressive production for the Bruins. Charbonnet is a bit of a long-strider with slightly below average foot quickness. He is much more effective when allowed to open up and build downhill momentum. He can slip tackles in the open field but lacks the first-level wiggle to get too cute. He’s inconsistent in processing defensive fronts quickly but can be a hammer into and through contact when he has a clear point of entry. Charbonnet is a talented third-down option as both a blocker and pass-catcher. He could be viewed as a Day 2 value with three-down potential. -’s Lance Zierlein

Charbonnet has a lot to like as an NFL starter but his upside may be capped as he lacks the breakaway speed at the next level to break long runs and put fear in defensive coordinators. He has a tendency to dance at the line of scrimmage before hitting the hole when things aren’t blocked up perfectly. Additionally, he runs high and he must learn to lower his pads to reduce his strike target for defenders. Overall, Charbonnet is an easy evaluation for the next level as he possesses the necessary run instincts, vision, size, and power to excel as an NFL starter. - The Draft Network’s Brentley Weissman

Charbonnet has really helped his stock this past year and his move to UCLA proved to be an excellent move. He has the ideal size for the position combined with decent speed and a powerful running style and has put this all together this last season chalking up great numbers both on the ground and in the air. In addition, Charbonnet has very much become a complete back at UCLA and has increasingly made an impact as a receiver. He isn’t perfect, however, and struggles as a pass protector - possesses decent but not elite quickness, and isn’t elusive at the second level.

We consider Charbonnet as a likely third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft who has promise as a starter at the next level and offers the ability to fit a number of pro schemes. - NFL Draft Buzz

Final Thoughts

The Broncos will likely draft a back and I could see them doing it with one of their third-round selections. Right now, you have veteran Samaje Perine penciled in as your number-one starter, but I would be surprised if that is the case come week one. He is a very good number-two back and I think that will be his role with the Broncos. So, splitting time with a rookie like Charbonnet would make sense.

Now, the elephant in the room here is how the rehab is going with Javonte Williams and his knee. He suffered a major knee injury and barring a great recovery, it seems unlikely he is ready for week one. Even if he is, he will not be 100% and would need to be eased into action. So, the Broncos need to address this position, especially with an emphasis on the run game.

I think Charbonnet can come in and be an instant producer who can play on all three downs. He is a good inside runner who can be effective in the passing game and also block on third downs. Like all rookie backs, his pass-blocking will need work but he will enter the league ahead of most backs in that department in my opinion.

He is a big physical back who will fit the attitude that Sean Payton is building the Denver and I think he would be an excellent fit for this team.