A Dobbin in the Stable
J.K. Dobbins - Ohio State Buckeyes
Where should I start when it comes to J.K.? Let’s start with a production timeline. Coming to Ohio State in 2017, Dobbins was coming off a prolific High School career out of La Grange High School in Texas. Although he was injured in his Senior season, in the 2 seasons prior Dobbins amassed 5149 yards and 74 touchdowns. Committing to Ohio State as a 4 star recruit, Dobbins was just getting started.
As a true freshman Dobbins stepped up immediately filling in for an injured Mike Weber. In the season opener, rushing for an eye-popping 181 yards, J.K. became just the sixth true freshman in Ohio State history to start a season opener and holds the Ohio State record for most rushing yards ever in a freshman debut. Week one would just be a sneak peek at what we would see out of Dobbins as he rumbled for an amazing 1403 rushing yards (18th in the nation) and 7 TD's while adding another 135 receiving yards on 22 receptions. On the season, Dobbins would crack the 100 yard mark six times an exploded for over 170 yards three times.
The fact that Dobbins lead a backfield with Mike Weber who had 101 carries, and Quarterback J.T Barrett who rushed another 165 times, suggested that the surface was just being scratched. In Weber and Barrett’s workloads, there was essentially another 1,400 rushing yards and 22 Touchdowns available for Dobbins to eat into.
With J.T. Barrett gone for the NFL (undrafted), expectations were high for Dobbins, but 2018 would prove to be a bit of a disappointment. Although he did garner an impressive 230 rushing attempts, his yards per carry would dip from 7.2 in 2017 to 4.6. While 4.6 YPC isn't terrible, the 100+ yard games were few and far between. Dobbins only exceeded that mark 3 times, and his 12 total touchdowns left much to be desired. The simple fact is that the Buckeye offense wasn't designed to run through Dobbins. It was Dwayne Haskins who stepped up and threw for an incredible 50 Touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. While Haskins excelled, Dobbins wasn't required to explode in the run game, and he wasn't used to close out games either with only 18% of his touches coming in the 4th quarter.
Add that to the fact that Weber still commanded 172 carries and had almost 1,000 yards himself. I still found it impressive that Dobbins had 1,053 rushing yards, becoming the only Buckeye to rush for back to back 1,000 yard seasons in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Expectations were high once again to start the 2019 season. Well JK didn’t disappoint. Dobbins passed Eddie George to become the all-time single season rushing leader in school history, and the first Ohio State back to go over 2000 rushing yards. He also totalled a stellar 21 touchdowns on the season. What I found really impressive was that Dobbins cracked the 100 yard mark 10 times and finished the season strong, putting up four straight games of over 150 yards against Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Clemson. He also finished the season with five straight games of at least 2 rushing touchdowns. Showing that he can play against elite talent, J.K. was actually better against top defensive units than he was against average units. Not being a fan of player comps, as I feel every player plays slightly different, I've heard many times that Dobbins has some Emmitt Smith in his game and I wouldn't dispute that. Putting up nearly identical numbers to Jonathan Taylor, in 2019 Dobbins finished with 2,003 rushing yards which tied him for 3rd in the country, and those 21 TD's which were tied for 1st.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
J.K. has great vision and good patience to set up his blocks, and fantastic burst once he decides to go. His lack of assignment recognition and blocking ability are my only real knocks, but it's rare for young back to be great in pass protection so I think he’ll be able to able to clean that up. An interesting note, “Dobbin” is a slang term for a work horse, and I’m confident he can be that at the next level.
Jim is a Staff Writer for True North Fantasy Football, he can be found on Twitter @goldjacketqbs. Feel free to send him any feedback, article ideas, or any questions to help you in building a championship team!