Scouting the Draft: Top 5 Running backs

Scout's draft experts rank the Top 5 running backs entering the 2014 NFL draft complete with each player's strengths, weaknesses and what pro their play most closely resembles.

Keep in mind that in today's NFL, football is evolving, and so is the running back position. Teams are becoming more enamored than ever in a running back's ability to catch and pass block. In the modern NFL, backs must be able to be duel threats, and this modernization of the halfback position is quite evident in these rankings. While high profile backs such as KaDeem Carey and Jeremy Hill aren't ranked in the top 5, it's more of a nod to the depth in this

With the NFL trending towards the smaller, duel threat backs, this list is based off the modernization of the league.

1. Bishop Sankey

Strengths:

When you put on Sankey's tape, the first thing that jumps out at you is his unbelievable balance. He's able to take hits and throw off defenders with ease, despite his lack of size. His balance is extremely fluid due to the fact that he has extremely strong legs and quick feet. His "crossover" is also second to none in this draft class. He has the ability to stop on a dime and put a cut on defenders. He has the ability to run inside and out, and has exceptionally good hands. Compiling 304 receiving yards with Washington, he has shown the ability to become a three down back at the next level. He's a very dependable back as well, putting up 1,870 yards on the ground last season in a pro-style offense. The bottom line is that he doesn't go down easily, and is a strong compact runner who has exceptional balance and the ability to make defenders miss.

Weaknesses

Sankey does scare some scouts at the next level as he has a ton of mileage on his legs already. With 616 carries the past 2 seasons, Sankey has a ton of wear and tear on his body and may be susceptible to breaking down. More of a downhill runner, and lacks the burst that can outrun defenders. He needs to improve his blocking if he's serious about becoming a 3 down back.

Comparison:

Ray Rice

2. Tre Mason

Strengths

Another downhill back that flies through holes, Mason's stop and go ability is a spectacle to watch. Extremely fun kid to watch on tape as he displays a second gear to his game. Isn't scared of contact and can take the ball through the teeth of the defense. Has deceptive speed as he's extremely quick. Good hands, good blocking ability, and a one-cut runner. Very patient runner that will take what the defense gives him. Always picks up the extra yard when going down, which is crucial in the pro game. Another tough kid in a deep HB class. Was a major contributor to Auburn's success last season. SEC player of the year with 1,816 yards on the ground with 23 touchdowns. Proven at the highest level of College Football.

Weaknesses

Eight fumbles in his past 2 seasons is a major red flag that NFL executives are leery of. While having solid hands, he didn't put up much production as a pass-catcher. May be susceptible to injury with his fiery playing style.

Comparison:

Frank Gore

3. Charles Sims

Strengths:

Sims would be the perfect fit for the Jets in day two. Sims probably has the best hands in this draft with over 100 catches for the Mountaineers, and an impressive 70 catches during his freshman campaign. This bodes well with Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg whom loves to utilize his backs with the screen game. Bilal Powell lacks a second gear, Ivory's hands are made of stone, and Mike Goodson's future is in a federal prison as of now. The team is desperately lacking a scat-back with Sims ability, and he'd fit like a glove. He has good size at 6-foot and 214 pounds. He has the ability to change directions with ease, and get into the next level of the defense with his impressive acceleration. Has a nice burst, that outside of DeAnthony Thomas is the quickest back in this draft. The best 3 down back in this draft.

Weaknesses

Sims is rather long for a HB and runs way too upright at times, making him susceptible to injuries and making it harder to free himself from defenders. Must add size to his frame in order to become a 20 carry back. Questionable ability to run between tackles, and will be a 24 year old rookie which hurts his stock at a young mans position.

Comparison

Darren McFadden

4. Carlos Hyde

For a guy coming in at 240 pounds, Hyde shockingly has extremely light feet. He's a one cut and downhill type runner. Brings the "thunder" aspect to a team's ground game. Very powerful runner with the ability to read his blocks and take the yards available. His combination of power, light feet, and patience reading blocks draws comparisons to Alfred Morris. He'd be perfect in a ZBS scheme and would benefit under a coach that runs a ZBS with multiple backs. His productivity at the next level is reliant on the team that drafts him. Very solid blocker and uses his hands to pull down balls and has potential to be a do it all type of back.

Weaknesses

Lacks explosiveness in his cuts and doesn't have the ability to make you miss. Again, at 240 pounds we're not looking for him to be LeSean McCoy, but he doesn't have the crossover ability that some of the other backs in this class possess. Lacks home run threat speed, and with a 4.66 40-time, many question his ability to get to the third and fourth level of a defense. Came out of nowhere this season so he may be a bit of a question mark at the next level.

Comparison

- Alfred Morris

5. Lache Seatrunk

- Strengths

Seatrunk is an extremely tough player. Another player in the Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, Giovanni Bernard mold, Seatrunk is a rugged, tough downhill runner that always keeps his feet moving, even when taking on multiple defenders. He stays low to the ground and bounces off arm tackles with ease. Another guy with great balance and crossover-like ability. Runs through small holes and finds openings with his quick feet. Has the ability to be a starting running back at the next level.

Weaknesses

Seatrunk hasn't shown any ability to catch the football, compiling nine career catches in his time with Baylor, and a whopping 0 this past year. He has to prove his ability to catch, or at least show it. Takes almost everything outside when he reaches the next level of the defense.

Comparison

- Stevan Ridley/Maurice Jones Drew

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