Israel Abanikanda 2023 NFL Draft Profile
Israel Abanikanda might be the biggest wildcard in the entire running back class heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. Abanikanda had some monster games for the University of Pittsburgh, but does he have the makeup to maintain that at the NFL level? That’s what we’re here to talk about. Let’s review the Israel Abanikanda 2023 NFL Draft profile!
As mentioned earlier, I watched Pitt against Tennessee earlier in the year. Abanikanda blew up against an SEC defense. A team that would eventually go on to beat Alabama. It was a breakout season in 2022 for the Pitt product. How does 1,431 rushing yards (6 yards per carry) and 20 touchdowns sound?
We don’t have a 40 time for Abanikanda. However, his father Saidi was born in Nigeria and also ran track at Georgia Tech. Abanikanda also has a track background himself. He is a two-time gold medalist in the 100-meter dash at the New York Mayor’s Cup Race. Not a huge recruiting profile as a former three-star guy. However, he also was awarded the New York State Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School. Anyone that watched this guy play knows the speed here isn’t a concern.
He’s not the smoothest runner in the world and sometimes lacks patience. His best attribute is that this guy doesn’t mess around. He hits the hole and goes. Can cut and carries necessary breakaway speed to churn out yards. My favorite move of his is a sexy spin move he pulls out on occasion. Not the quickest guy in the world in short area but that spin move seems to fool defenders more often than not.
The bottom line here is if you’re looking for the next Isiah Pachecho, Israel Abanikanda is probably your best bet. He’s a bowling ball of sizzle that doesn’t mess around and punches people in the mouth. If you’re looking for a running back deep in the draft, this might be my favorite target in the 6th and 7th round range.