Tank Bigsby - RB - Auburn
Tank Bigsby was a highly-rated recruit that went to a run-heavy team in Auburn right out of high school. He started off his career strong and was instantly a Devy darling and considered a strong draft prospect right out of the gate. He hit some bumps along the way, but as a true junior, he is declaring for the NFL Draft. Was Bigsby’s regression from his freshman year due to his play on the field or the seeming dysfunction of the Auburn offense and coaching staff?
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 210 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.56s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 32.5″
Broad Jump: 9-11
Bench Press: 21
*age is at the start of player’s rookie year
As a true freshman, Tank Bigsby walked onto campus as a high 4-star recruit and the 4th running back in his respective freshman class per 247Sports Composite. He was immediately productive and stepped into the lead role in the backfield and led the team with 834 rushing yards and trailed only quarterback Bo Nix in rushing touchdowns with 5. At this point, he was on many people’s radars in the Devy community and NFL Draft community and was awarded SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Bigsby saw his first head coaching change going into his sophomore year as Brian Harsin took over for Gus Malzahn. Bigsby continued to lead the backfield with over 1,000 rushing yards and impressively racked up 21 receptions for 184 yards. His efficiency took a step back with the increased volume, but the entire offense seemed to take a step back with a disappointing 6-7 season.
There was speculation that Tank Bigsby was going to transfer out from Auburn after the seeming dysfunction of the Auburn coaching room and rumors swirling about Brian Harsin. He decided not to, but in hindsight, it could have benefited him depending on the teams he was targeting. He had a similar season to 2021 in 2022 with 970 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, again being active in the receiving game with 30 receptions and 180 yards in 1 less game. Surprisingly, Tank Bigsby and Jahmyr Gibbs were the only running backs to lead their teams in both carries and receptions in 2022. Gibbs is one that you would expect in this stat line, but Tank was a running back that quietly got a lot of receptions. Maybe unsurprisingly, Tank went through his second Head Coaching change as Harsin was fired midway through the year in favor of interim Cadillac Williams. Tank ended the year on a good note with 3/6 of his final outings netting over 100 yards and over those six games totaled 625 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. He decided to declare for the NFL Draft as a true junior.
As his name suggests, Tank Bigsby can be a force to take down. He utilizes his size at 6’0” and 208 lbs to become a tackle-breaking machine in the open field or in tight spaces. His contact balance is top-notch, bouncing off defenders with ease with his violent running style. His open-field speed is solid and good enough to pick up chunk plays but can get caught up by the faster defenders on the field.
What’s surprising about his game is his agility and impeccable footwork. He constantly keeps his feet moving behind the line of scrimmage and will continue to keep his feet churning to fight for extra yards. He has good burst that he can lean on when he finds the open hole in the line of scrimmage, and when he gets into the open field he is surprisingly elusive for his running style. His change of direction is good too when he takes cuts but can tend to throttle down a bit too much on tight 90-degree turns. But that’s not the worst thing as his acceleration and control of his speed is top-notch.
While Bigsby turned in big reception numbers, he is not overly dynamic in the receiving game. He can catch screens and check downs reliably, but a team is never going to expect him to be running routes downfield or creating big yards after the catch opportunities outside of screens. Although, he could surprise everyone as Auburn’s offense was not conducive to his success as a pass catcher, whether that was by natural design or due to his limitations. Also in the passing game, he could make improvements as a pass blocker. But, he had minimal reps at this at Auburn.
His vision at the line of scrimmage is usually good, but he can get too narrow-focused and miss lanes outside and sometimes into the second level. Again, this could just have been a product of Auburn’s injury-riddled offense line this last season, forcing Tank to make split-second decisions without any time to process. And even though Tank is a hard guy to take down, he has some room to bulk up his lower body and develop a stronger base. It can be like a brick wall attacking his upper body, but he can be susceptible to lower-body tackles.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 2
Tank Bigsby has all the making of a workhorse at the next level. He is a plus rusher with just enough receiving ability to make him viable on third downs. If he proves he can be a competent pass blocker and improve/be more involved in the passing game than just check downs, he could be in line for some serious volume. He doesn’t have size concerns and his ability to be both shifty and show off his strength as a runner means he is not just a situational back.
He should be a Day 2 selection in the NFL Draft, and the running back landscape never needed a bigger injection of life than right now. Devin Singletary is off of his contract leaving the Buffalo Bills with a wide-open hole at running back with just James Cook and Nyheim Hines as the only running backs left on contract, both being receiving backs. Tank would be a great early-down complement. Although it is a good fit for need it’s not a great fit for fantasy purposes as the Bills’ offense just isn’t conducive to fantasy points from the running back position, especially in a timeshare. The Carolina Panthers are a team with a lot of needs, but glaringly, running back is one of them, whilst maybe not being the most important one. Regardless, the team needs pieces on offense, and if they move up for a quarterback and maintain their Day 2 pick, Tank could do wonders to take the pressure off a rookie quarterback.
Post Draft Analysis
Jacksonville Jaguars- Round 3, Pick 25
Travis Etienne is obviously the guy that the organization invested a first-round pick in just two years ago, but it’s also smart to remember that this is a new regime versus the one that drafted him. Now, Tank going on Day 2, late in the third round, could mean that they have a significant role for him, or he’s a priority backup to Etienne and will take minimal work from him. Maybe they want to take some of the load off Etienne and let him operate as just an offensive weapon. The Jaguars had other needs when they drafted Tank, so the coaching staff saw something that intrigued them. It’s going to be up to Tank and Etienne on how much of the backfield opportunities each gets.
There’s a pretty good chance that Tank and Etienne split the backfield pretty evenly, maybe 60/40, and they utilize Etienne as a weapon like he was drafted to be. Split out wide, in the slot, screen game, etc relying on explosive plays. And that leaves Tank to be the traditional early-down running back with a few catches here and there. The problem is, that scenario means neither is getting workhorse carries like they both profile that can do. But it’s probably the most likely scenario as this was another running back landing spot on Day 2 that is just perplexing.
For redraft, Tank is a risky proposition as there is so much uncertainty in that backfield. It will most likely be Etienne with the majority of the workload to start out the season as he is the incumbent. But Tank should be the secondary running back right out of the gates as there isn’t much competition behind Etienne. Tank already provides massive handcuff value in this offense and has the potential to carve out a fantasy-viable role as well. This makes him a solid pick in the mid to late second round of dynasty superflex drafts. There’s the upside and a good floor with a secondary role carved out alongside Etienne.