Scouting the top RB prospects

As part of our series previewing the NFL draft, we examine the top prospects at every position. This installment features the running backs.

Overall class strength: This is a top-heavy group that doesn't quite match last year's group led by Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams. There are five prospects who have been mentioned as likely or potential first-round picks and also several undersized prospects who might come in as third-down backs or return specialists. At fullback, it's the same as always, meaning there's very little to be excited about.

The best halfbacks: Reggie Bush, USC; DeAngelo Williams, Memphis; LenDale White, USC; Laurence Maroney, Minnesota; Joseph Addai, LSU. The best fullbacks: Garrett Mills, Tulsa; Lawrence Vickers, Colorado.

The next wave of halfbacks: Maurice Drew, UCLA; Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin; Leon Washington, Florida State; Jerome Harrison, Washington State; Andre Hall, South Florida. The next wave of fullbacks: Matt Bernstein, Wisconsin; David Kirtman, USC; John Pannozzo, Indiana.

Possible sleepers at halfback: Derrick Ross, Tarleton State; Brad Smith, Missouri. Possible sleepers at fullback: Quadtrine Hill, Miami.

First-round projections at halfback: Bush, Williams, White, Maroney, Addai. First-round projections at fullback: None.

Quick hits: Bush has been compared to Marshall Faulk, while Williams was compared by Tennessee GM Floyd Reese to LaDainian Tomlinson. ... White didn't do much to help his cause when he looked out of shape at USC's Pro Day, but there's no denying his production in college. ... The 5-foot-6 Drew led the NCAA last season in punt return average. ... Mills set an NCAA record for receiving yards last season, but his size (6-1, 235) will dictate a position switch in the NFL. His best spot might be as an H-back. ... Likewise, Pannozzo was Indiana's best defensive player as a linebacker last season, but his best spot in the NFL is at fullback, a position he played when he first got to college.

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