Vision - He does a nice job between the tackles to process soft spaces and hit the hole hard and with momentum. Visual field provides shallow cuts to redirect to adjacent gaps. Would like to see a bit more patience on outside runs to fall in line or cut back in line behind lead blocks.
Feet/Change of Direction - Wouldn't consider him sudden but he's much smoother than his frame would have you think. If he stays on shallow angles he can string together adjustments well. Appreciate his footwork in the backfield to time his release into the mesh and carry pace through the LOS.
Durability - Battled through minor dings as a SOPH but his overall body of work is quite impressive. True bell cow at the CFB level who will be an even better finisher when he's put into a timeshare to suit his strengths more appropriately. Bruising finisher with toughness.
Balance - Like him best when he's working down hill. When he's pressing to reach outside landmarks he loses a lot of his functional balance and ability to cut. Doesn't showcase ability to collect himself quickly off of hard cuts, allowing pursuit to close in.
Pass Protection - He's got all the frame, lower body power and functional strength you could possibly ask for. He can be a bit late to slide his feet and give up interior pressure vs. blitzers, however. If he's collected prior to contact, odds are pretty good he's going to deliver necessary stick.
Elusiveness - He's an absolute load to bring down, his size causes conflicts among defenders on how to challenge him. Contact balance is quite strong and he's surprisingly nimble to collect himself. Short area acceleration and lateral quickness are not hallmarks of his game, however.
Receiving Ability - Pedestrian at best, doesn't appear to have much in the way of untapped potential here. He's been used sparingly in the screen game and doesn't show viable sense of when he's uncovered in shallow routes. Breaks are lethargic and won't stress LBs in coverage.
Short Yardage Skill - Love his forward lean and leg drive, if he needs a yard, the odds are pretty good he's going to get one and a half. Consistently moves the pile and will drag defenders in one on one scenarios. Despite high pads, he'll drop shoulder and reduce surface area for pending contact.
Football Intelligence - Noticeably less comfortable working outside, his pure running instinct is best between the tackles. Appreciate his feel for bounce lanes on the second level to gouge and produce bigger gains and work to the sideline. That said, passing reps are only modest.
Effort - Brute of a runner who will physically challenge defenders. He uses that to his advantage to pull sleight of hand and break out finesse moves, but definitely leans on his power and toughness to maximize runs. Leg drive in the pile is excellent.
Best Trait - Short Yardage Skills
Worst Trait - Short Area Agility
Best Film - NC State (2019)
Worst Film - Clemson (2019)
Red Flags - None
Summary - AJ Dillon projects best as a gap/power rusher at the NFL level. Dillon is at his best as a deep set back who can collect momentum working into the POA and carry his burst through the hole. Asking him to slow play, press the line and read/accelerate out of a cut takes away many of his appealing qualities. In a perfect world, Dillon is a short yardage specialist and/or early down back who can churn out tough yards and keep the offense on schedule with the sticks.