2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today, we’ll be profiling UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet.


Senior Bowl Invite
NFL Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Zach Charbonnet 6003/214 9 7/8″ 32″ 75 5/8″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.53 1.53 4.46 7.16
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10′ 2″ 37″ 18


— Great vision and mental processing, good anticipation of how blocks are developing
— Difficult to bring down, especially in the open field where he is elusive with the ball in his hands
— Very good contact balance, keeps legs moving through contact
— Willing as a blocker in pass-pro
— Solid hands, able to catch the ball away from his frame


— Just average long speed, can get tracked down from behind
— Wasted movement when changing direction, often requiring a gather step or two
— Durability concerns in 2022 and a knee concern coming out of high school
— Lunges and drops his head in pass protection, which can lead to whiffed blocks
— Leans on his finesse moves more than power moves as a runner


— Attended Oaks Christian High School in Camarillo, CA
— 22 years old, will be 23 in January
— Multi-sport athlete in high school, including basketball, track and baseball
— Initially attended Michigan where he led the team in rushing as a freshman under Jim Harbaugh
— Usage trailed off in his sophomore season; he transferred closer to home to UCLA
— Played under another former NFL head coach at UCLA in Chip Kelly
— Second-team All-Pac-12 and Team MVP in 2021
— First-team All-Pac-12 in 2022
— 40 games played, 28 starts
— 565 carries— 3,346 yards (5.9 avg), 75 receptions— 589 yards, 39 total touchdowns
— Knee scope to clean up meniscus tear entering Michigan his freshman year
— Two missed games in his senior season due to lingering injuries
— Opted out of UCLA’s bowl game and the Senior Bowl
— Honor Roll student


Charbonnet has really good body control as he can both evade runners or bounce off them. Either way he proved very difficult to get on the ground in college. He averaged 4.2 yards after contact per carry. You cannot try to tackle him high as he excels at minimizing the big hits he takes and keeps his legs moving throughout. You have to gang tackle him to get him on the ground or use the sideline to push him out; very rarely does he get brought down by one person. Each of the plays in the clip below shows of the contact balance, leg drive, and competitive toughness that he brings as a ball carrier.

Another benefit to having that much body control and balance is he can be really elusive as a runner. He has great vision and will shake you with juke steps as he navigates through traffic. He pairs it well with his contact balance, and it makes him a big problem once he can get into space.

He is willing and able in pass pro, but he has a tendency to go for the big hit and lunges with his body. He also drops his eyes a bit while doing so. That can lead to missed blocks. The clip below shows an example of the good and the bad with his pass pro as he plants a defender on the ground in the first play and causes a quarterback hit with a missed block in the second.

The main knock on Charbonnet is his lack of breakaway speed. With the amount of moving and shaking he does as a runner, he will get chased down from behind a lot in the NFL. Here are examples of what that looked like at the college level, which will only get worse in the NFL with highly athletic defenders. One of these even resulted in a fumble. He didn’t fumble much in college, but I could see an increase in the NFL with the amount he fights to stay on his feet. Defenders are going to test his ball handling and he will give them lots of opportunities to do so with his style of running.

Here are some plays of him as a receiver out of the backfield. He wasn’t used all that much in college as a receiver, but he works well in space and catches the ball well with his hands. I think he was underused in that part of his game in college. An NFL team ought to be able to get him in space with the ball in his hands more.


Zach Charbonnet is a nice all-around runner who has a chance to become a day one starter in the right situation. He doesn’t have elite breakaway speed and his change of direction could be quicker, but his vision works well with his great contact balance to consistently gain yards after contact. The Steelers don’t need a running back early, so there shouldn’t be any interest in him. My pro comparison for him is Najee Harris, though he doesn’t have quite the size that Najee possesses. Whichever team gets him should be getting an every-down back who starts sooner rather than later.

Projection: Early-Mid Day Two

Depot Draft Grade: 8.2 – Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)

Games Watched: vs USC (2022), vs Stanford (2022), at Colorado (2022)

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