A reduced amount of invited running backs took to the field last weekend and after running the forty proceeded to carry the ball for scouts and then went on to prove their pass catching skills.
Here's a look at who impressed:
Julius Jones was far and away the best running back during the session. He displayed great footwork and explosive cutting ability, changing direction on a dime and making almost 90-degree turns to avoid the tackling dummies. He was one of the few that translated his forty speed around the corner during the outside drills and then looked very natural catching the ball. After a solid Senior Bowl week Jones is climbing toward the top 45 picks.
Keep in mind that Cowboys scouts were all over Jones during the week of the Senior Bowl.
Another that continued the momentum from Mobile was Mewlede Moore. A quick footed ball carrier, Moore was able to immediately change direction and ran with good force. Of all the running backs he was the best route runner in pass catching drills and the most natural pulling the ball from the air.
Iowa's Fred Russell also had a fine session. After benching well then posting a good time in the forty, Russell practiced with terrific speed and displayed excellent cutting abilities. He also ran good routes during the pass catching drills and was one of the few running backs that were able to catch passes running full speed (many seemed to slow down during this portion and became a little tentative).
Though not as fast as the above mentioned, Shaud Williams was just as quick-footed and showed a lot of elusiveness with the ability to double cut during his runs while handling the ball. Williams also displayed great hands and a sense of timing catching the pass.
Josh Davis was surprisingly good and elevated his draft ranking. Besides running with a good amount of explosion Davis caught the ball well; something rarely done by Nebraska backs.
A few backs ran well then didn't do so well in the drills. Like Tatum Bell for one.
After lifting well on the bench and turning in a solid 40-time, Bell looked like a straight-line runner during the drills. Struggling with his footwork, he was unable to quickly cut it back and after running into the tackling dummy had to slow down before trying to cut. In similar fashion Bell would slow and gather in the pass catching drills before making the reception.
It was a different story for Michael Turner. After really showing the jets during his forty clocking it seemed as though Turner ran out of gas. Though he hand-timed under 4.5 he practiced more to a 4.65 and at times was tripping over his feet during the cutting drills.
A few notes on the remaining backs.
Rich Alexis was fluid but not explosive. While he was able to quickly cut back he significantly slowed down when the cones were placed out front and he had to simulate running around tackle. He was not natural catching the ball and readied into receptions.
Ran Carthon caught the ball well but did not practice fast and showed himself to be just a straight-line runner.
Duron Croson was slow, tentative and not explosive. At times he was tripping over his feet. I got an angry call on Sunday saying it was revealed Croson had a hernia during the examinations and he was trying to gut it out. Supposedly he will be back for the combine retest at the beginning of April so we'll see.
For lack of a better term Clarence Farmer is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Three times he was whistled for a false start in the forty and three times he was given specific instructions on where to place his hands on the start line.... of course he got it wrong three times. Besides that he was slow, tentative and looked like a guy who has not played much football recently.
Derrick Knight was disappointing as he was slow, did not show the smooth cutback ability and struggled catching the ball.
Ditto for Quincy Wilson who did not run then practiced very slow. Wilson was all over the place during the cutting drills and had great difficulty catching the ball.
Pass receiving was the best part of Renaldo Works session as his running skills were below par.
And while he ran better than most people thought, Jarrett Payton surprisingly dropped a lot of passes throughout the afternoon.
* This report is the combination of group 3 and group 4 running backs.
Combine Session Report: Running Backs
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