NFL Draft: Scouting The Running Backs

Though not as top heavy as last year's stunning class, the '06 crop could offer more depth and produce a greater number of starting running backs in time. Several situational runners are also available in this year's draft. Here are the scouting reports on the top twelve running backs.

Full Name: Reggie Bush School: USC Pos: RB

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 201 40: 4.45 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded both All-America and All-Conference honors since his freshman campaign. Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year last season when he also won the Heisman Trophy, Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Award.  Rushing numbers last season included 187/1,658/15 with 31/383/2 as a receiver. Averaged 17 yards on 23 kick returns and 9.9 yards on 18 punt returns with an additional score. Sophomore ground totals included 143/908/6 with career-best receiving numbers of 43/509/7. Averaged 15.7 yards on 24 punt returns with two scores that season.

Pos: Electrifying skill player who is a threat to break games open any time he handles the ball. Runs with terrific pad level and displays outstanding vision. Quick-footed, sets defenders up, then freezes them at the point of attack and immediately cuts back against the grain. Has a terrific burst of speed yet at the same time is deceptively strong and does not go down without a fight. Waits for blocks to develop anywhere on the field and does an outstanding job following them. Creates if nothing is available and consistently keeps the play in bounds, picking up extra yardage. Natural receiver who makes the difficult reception in mid-air or the acrobatic catch running full speed. Runs to daylight in the open field.

Neg: Not a heavy-duty ball handler who can take a constant pounding. Loses out in battles as a receiver.

Analysis: While he may not be an every-down back who can handle a full workload, Bush's versatility and explosiveness projects well to the next level. Can be productive in a variety of ways and is a special prospect - will impact as a rookie.

Full Name: DeAngelo Williams School: Memphis Pos: RB

Ht: 5-9 Wt: 214 40: 4.55 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Awarded All-American and All-Conference honors last season after 310/1,964/18 on the ground and 12/71/1 as a receiver. Junior rushing totals included 313/1,948/22 after 243/1,430/10 as a sophomore. Conference USA Player of the Year every season since his sophomore campaign.

Pos: Patient and instinctive ball carrier with a complete game. Sees the field, waits for blocks to develop and follows them anywhere on the field. Finds the cutback lanes, makes defenders miss and gets through the small creases. Plays with outstanding balance, body control and power. Displays good first-step quickness with a burst of speed. Aggressive, puts his shoulders into defenders and works to finish runs. Effective blocking in pass protection. Solid pass catcher.

Neg: Lacks the flat-out speed to beat defenders around corner. Has carried the ball almost 1,000 times in college.

Analysis: A highly decorated collegian and the nation's top senior running back, Williams has the tools to be an instant starter in the NFL. Should have a long and productive career yet does not have that something special to make one think he's a franchise runner.

Full Name: Laurence Maroney School: Minnesota Pos: RB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 217 40: 4.85 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Started the past three seasons in a rotational system at Minnesota. Awarded All-Conference honors since his freshman campaign. Junior totals included 281/1,464/10 on the ground with 17/170/1 as a pass-catcher. Ground totals the prior year included 217/1,348/12.

Pos: Patient, elusive ball carrier with outstanding instincts. Waits for blocks to develop, weaves through the traffic and finds the open space. Quick-footed, cuts back against the grain and makes defenders miss. Bounces around piles or beats defenders around the corner. Does not go down without a fight and falls forward when tackled.

Neg: Cannot run to daylight and presents himself as a one-speed back. Must pick up the blocking intensity. Not a pile-mover. Has had problems with minor nicks and bruises in the past.

Analysis: Handling a lot of carries in college, Maroney showed up bigger and stronger at the combine. Could be an effective West Coast back in the NFL.

Full Name: Joseph Addai School: LSU Pos: RB

Ht: 5-11.5 Wt: 214 40: 4.41 Year: 5Sr

Bio: LSU's feature back as a senior after sporadically playing with the first team the prior two years. Rushing totals included 187/911/9 with 20/180/1 receiving. Posted 680 yards on the ground as a junior and career-best receiving numbers of 26/294/4.

Pos: Explosive running back moving up draft boards. Patient runner with outstanding instincts, vision and speed. Makes defenders miss in the open field, deceptively strong and breaks tackles. Fast enough to beat defenders around the corner. Solid receiver who adjusts to the errant throw and catches the pass with his hands.

Neg: Runs with an upright style. Marginally productive as a blocker.

Analysis: A high-motor player who does the extras to become better, Addai is slowly developing a complete game. Coming off a terrific senior campaign he is poised to become a starting ball carrier at the next level.

Full Name: Maurice Drew School: UCLA Pos: RB

Ht: 5-6.5 Wt: 207 40: 4.44 Year: 3Jr

Bio: All-Conference and All-American selection last year after leading UCLA in rushing with 183/900/13 and adding 29/424/4 as a receiver. Averaged 29.1 yards on 14 punt returns, three of which were brought back for scores. Sophomore totals included 160/1,069/8 rushing.

Pos: Game-breaking skill player a threat any time he handles the ball. Runs low to the ground, gets lost behind blockers and is deceptively strong. Keeps his feet off the initial hit, cuts back against the grain and makes defenders miss. Follows blocks anywhere on the field and displays great awareness. Natural receiver with the ability grab the errant throw from the crowd. Solid in pass protection, picking up assignments and blocking with leverage. Game-breaking return specialist.

Neg: Not as effective as a short-yardage runner nor a pile mover. Lack of height could turn teams off.

Analysis: An exciting player, Drew nicely projects as a situational runner\third-down back who will impact as a return specialist. May not be a back for everyone, yet will be productive in the NFL if given the opportunity to handle the ball.

Full Name: Lendale White School: USC Pos: RB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 230 40: 4.61 Year: 3Jr

Bio: All-Conference and All-America selection last season when he shared starting duties. posting 177/1,178/21 on the ground. Started all but two games the prior year totaling 203/1,103/15.

Pos: Strong, bruising ball carrier with excellent instincts. Patient, waits for blocks to develop and possesses terrific vision. Immediately finds the running lanes and follows blocks, running with balance and body control. Makes quick cutbacks in a small area or wiggles his way through the traffic. Powerful, easily breaks tackles and picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact.

Neg: Not a sudden runner and lacks the pure foot-speed to outrun opponents. Cannot create if things break down.

Analysis: A perfect complement to Reggie Bush, USC's other ball carrier is an outstanding prospect in his own right. Possessing the size, strength and running back skills to be a feature ball-handler at the next level, White projects as a first-round pick and could quickly break into a starting lineup.

Full Name: Brian Calhoun School: Wisconsin Pos: RB

Ht: 5-9 Wt: 201 40: 4.52 Year: 4Jr

Bio: Former Colorado transfer awarded All-Conference honors as a junior after posting 348/1,636/22 on the ground with 53/571/2 catching the ball. Led Colorado as a sophomore with 810 rushing yards.

Pos: Shifty ball-handler with a variety of skills. Runs with a great degree of patience, follows blocks everywhere on the field and quickly gets through small openings.  Elusive and makes defenders miss. Works runs using an effective straight-arm to keep tacklers away. Seamless receiver out of the backfield who has soft, natural hands.  Displays excellent first-step quickness and a burst of speed.

Neg: Marginally strong carrying the ball and can be easily brought down at the point of attack. More of a one-speed back who does run to daylight.

Analysis: Productive handling the ball, Calhoun is perfectly suited as a third-down back/situational runner in the NFL. Could see spot duty as a starter, yet may never be the big-time feature runner he was in college.

Full Name: Jerome Harrison School: Washington State Pos: RB

Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 201 40: 4.51 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Junior-college transfer awarded All-Conference honors last season after totaling 308/1,900/16 on the ground and adding 24/206/1 as a pass catcher. Junior rushing totals were 174/900/9.

Pos: Competitive ball carrier with outstanding running back skills. Displays terrific instincts, immediately finds the running lanes and has a burst through the hole.  Runs with terrific balance, body control and follows blocks anywhere on the field.  Fast, can run to daylight and consistently picks up positive yardage.

Neg: Not a strong ball carrier who breaks many tackles. Must improve as a blocker.

Analysis: Consistently improving on the field, Harrison capped off a terrific campaign in ‘05 with a great performance at the Senior Bowl. Has possibilities as a third-down back/situational ball carrier. Moved into the draft's first day.

Full Name: Jerious Norwood School: Mississippi State Pos: RB

Ht: 5-11.5 Wt: 210 40: 4.36 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter and All-Conference selection since his junior campaign.  Senior rushing totals included 191/1,136/6 with 19/96/2 as a pass-catcher.  Posted 1,050 rushing yards the prior year.

Pos: Explosive ball carrier also projects to wide receiver. Patient, displays good running vision and finds the openings in the defense. Quick-footed, bounces around piles or gets through the small creases of the defense. Fast enough to beat defenders around the corner and take it the distance. Solid pass-catcher.

Neg: Not a strong back who picks up yardage off initial contact. Must improve his blocking. Does not consistently play to his timed speed.

Analysis: Offering outstanding size/speed numbers, Norwood is a situational back who can also be lined up at wideout. Much better pass-catcher than his numbers would dictate, and offers starting potential.

Full Name: Andre Hall School: South Florida Pos: RB

Ht: 5-8.5 Wt: 208 40: 4.46 Year: 4Sr

Bio: All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 270/1,374/13 on the ground and leading the team in receptions with 26/321/2. Set school rushing record as a junior posting 1,357 yards.

Pos: Elusive ball carrier with the ability to create. Patient, waits for blocks to develop and runs low to the ground. Finds the cutback lanes and runs with terrific balance.

Sets up defenders, making them miss and keeps runs alive.

Neg: Under-sized, cannot handle a lot of carries and lacks power. Must pick up the intensity of his blocking.

Analysis: A slashing runner who slips off defenders or finds ways to pick up positive yardage, Hall could find a role at the next level as situational ball carrier.

Full Name: DonTrell Moore School: New Mexico Pos: RB

Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 210 40: 4.62 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Four-year starter named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year last season after totaling 275/1,298/14 on the ground and adding 31/371/3 as a pass catcher. Junior totals included 1,091 rushing yards with five touchdowns.

Career-best rushing numbers of 276/1,450/19 came as a sophomore.

Pos: Versatile ball carrier with outstanding football instincts. Patient, waits for blocks to develop and displays vision everywhere on the field. Weaves through traffic finding the open lanes in the defense, runs with excellent pad level and keeps runs alive. Has a shifty, darting style. Solid receiver out of the backfield who occasionally sneaks it downfield.

Neg: Not a strong ball carrier who picks up yardage off initial contact. Suffered a major knee injury at the end of his junior campaign.

Analysis: Perfectly suited for a West Coast offense, Moore is an explosive back with a variety of skill. May never be a feature runner, yet versatility will allow Moore to have a productive NFL career.

Full Name: Mike Bell School: Arizona Pos: RB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 221 40: 4.63 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter and previous All-Conference selection who totaled 200/952/5 on the ground last year, adding 18/197 as a receiver. Junior rushing totals 204/950/5.

Pos: Hard-running interior back who picks up the tough yards. Sees the field, consistently finds the running lanes and runs with an aggressive style. Plays with outstanding balance and body control. Slides off defenders or drives up the field  on contact. Solid receiver out of the backfield.

Neg: Must pick up the intensity blocking. Does not beat defenders around the corner. Though sized well does not present himself as a heavy-duty back on the inside.

Analysis: Consistent in college, Bell offers potential as a rotational\third back in the NFL.

Complete Running Back Rankings - Complete NFL Draft Rankings

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