Seahawks select UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet with No. 52 pick in NFL Draft
Zach Charbonnet hits a hole during a rushing play. The former UCLA football running back was selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks on Friday. (Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)
By Francis Moon
April 28, 2023 6:14 p.m.
This post was updated April 28 at 6:21 p.m.
The first Bruin off the board, Zach Charbonnet has become the highest-drafted UCLA running back in more than 20 years.
Following two years with UCLA football, Charbonnet was selected with the No. 52 pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday by the Seattle Seahawks. Charbonnet will join second-year running back Kenneth Walker III, the runner-up for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award a season ago, in the Seahawks’ backfield.
Posting 726 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman at Michigan, Charbonnet transferred to UCLA following a sophomore year that saw him receive just 19 carries. He immediately became a focal point of the Bruins’ offense, rushing for 106 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries in his debut on Aug. 28, 2021, against Hawai’i.
Charbonnet recorded 1,137 rushing yards in 12 games as a junior, finishing second in the Pac-12 – and 30th in the nation – in rushing yards per game despite sharing touches with former backfield partner Brittain Brown. Named AP Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year as one of the top running backs in the country, Charbonnet took his production to another level after deciding to stay in Westwood for a second season.
Spearheading one of the most prolific rushing offenses in college football, Charbonnet led the nation in all-purpose yards per game with 168 while also producing the fourth-most yards per carry in the country alongside 14 touchdowns to earn second-team All-American honors.
The Seahawks finished the 2022-2023 season with an 8-8 record, finishing second in the NFC West to make the playoffs a season after trading away longtime quarterback Russell Wilson. Walker became an integral piece of Seattle’s offense as the featured running back, but the pick signals a shift toward a committee approach in the backfield next season.
Charbonnet was the third running back taken in the draft, behind Texas’ Bijan Robinson and Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs, who went No. 8 and No. 12, respectively. Charbonnet also became the highest-drafted Bruin at his position since DeShaun Foster was taken with the 34th pick in 2002.