The Washington Commanders have picked up a running back in the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting Chris Rodriguez Jr. with the 193rd overall pick.
A three-star recruit and all-state pick out of high school in Georgia, Rodriguez ascended to an influential role for Kentucky during the 2019 season. As a backup that year, he played in all 13 games (71-533-7.5, six touchdowns). He followed that up by leading the team in rushing with 785 yards on 119 carries (6.6 per game) and 11 scores in nine contests without a start. In 2021, he stepped into the starting running back spot, rushing 1,379 yards and scoring nine touchdowns on his way to garnering second-team All-SEC honors. Rodriguez wrapped up his time in Kentucky with seven starts in eight games played (175-904-5.2, six touchdowns; 5-41-8.2 receiving) in 2022.
"Rodriguez is a powerful runner," wrote NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. "He has the size and the mentality to do the dirty work between the tackles...He's a physical blitz protector, so teams might envision a role for him as a second-half battering ram and third-down quarterback protector."
Rodriguez (6-foot, 217 pounds) knows how to use his thick frame to pick up tough yards and make tacklers feel his size right on impact. He is good at staying square getting through downhill cuts and at remaining on his feet through heavy angle strikes. His overall PFF grade was a 90.8 upon 2022 season's end.
The two-time team captain for Kentucky will add more talent to a bright running back room in Washington that features Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr.
More updates to follow.