As mentioned in other draft profile articles at Mile High Report, the Denver Broncos are expected to add another running back to their ranks in the 2023 NFL Draft. This year’s class is loaded with talent and depth throughout all rounds, which should give the Broncos ample opportunity to find another player despite being short on picks.
One player that has caught my eye throughout this year’s pre-draft process is Tulane Green Wave sensation Tyjae Spears. Let’s take a deeper dive into Spears as a prospect and what he would bring to the Broncos if drafted.
Tyjae Spears — Running Back — Tulane
Height: 5’10” Weight: 201 lbs.
Bench Press: 18 reps | Arm Length: 30 3/4” | Hands: 10”
40 Yard Dash: 4.47 | 3 Cone Drill: N/A | 20 Yard Shuttle: N/A
Spears was a three-star prospect coming out of Ponchatoula High School in Louisiana and after receiving few offers, decided to stay local and play for Tulane in-state instead of taking his talents to Kansas State.
He didn’t produce much in his freshman year and his sophomore campaign was derailed with a season-ending knee injury, but his last two years with the Green Wave proved he is a top-notch prospect with a bright pro future ahead of him.
In his junior campaign, he started 12 games and accumulated 863 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns on just 129 carries. He also added 19 receptions for 145 yards. He saved his best for last as a senior, stating 13 games and racked up 1,581 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 229 carries. He improved his receiving numbers and reeled in 22 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
The highlight of his collegiate career was a dominating performance against USC in the Cotton Bowl. He ran all over the Trojans and gained 205 yards on 17 carries and four rushing touchdowns. Those fantastic numbers that earned him MVP honors for the game and put a gold star on his resume next to being the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
He continued to boost his draft stock after a solid performance at this year’s Senior Bowl and is projected to be a Top 125 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Film Room and Highlights
Positives: Extremely productive player post-injury who sported an incredible 7.0 yards per carry average with the Green Wave. A touchdown machine with a penchant for the big play. Definite lethal threat on outside runs with the speed to take it to the house. Great in and out of his cuts and demonstrates sound lateral agility and change of direction skills on tape. Adequate receiver who got better at receiving with more reps. Regarded as a high character player who loves football and would fit in any NFL locker room.
Negatives: A bit undersized and likely will be a complimentary back at the next level as opposed to a workhorse who can handle the bulk of a team’s carries. Possesses average vision and decisiveness as a runner. Runs hard, but won’t be a candidate for bull-dozing duties on interior plays or consistently break tackles. History of knee injuries is a significant concern and team’s medical grades on him may ultimately decide where he winds up being selected.
Overall: Top 125 prospect.
Spears’ Fit With the Broncos
This year’s draft has every type of back a franchise could want and Spears is undoubtedly one of the most unique prospects available. As mentioned earlier, teams will have concerns with his durability and past knee injury, but he showed a lot of tenacity coming back from his season-ending injury as a sophomore and was one of the most productive collegiate runners in the nation the past two years.
Sean Payton values running backs who can be utilized in the passing game and Spears’ skills would be a welcome addition to Denver’s running back room. I have no doubts that Payton’s connections in Louisiana will be able to give him a sound report on Spears as a player and person. All things considered, I expect him to be a player of interest for Denver and to be a Top 125 selection in this year’s draft if his medicals check out.