NFL Scouting Combine: Top 5 Running Backs

The Giants Beat takes a look at the top running back prospects at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.


1. Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State


Scouting Profile: Declaring for the draft his junior year, Elliot is arguably the best prospect at the running back position. His sophomore and junior campaigns at Ohio State featured the back at his finest, where he posted rushing totals of over 1800 yards in both seasons. His sophomore year he amassed an impressive 18 touch downs, but eclipsed that number with 23 touchdowns his junior year.


As a runner, he is a three-down back at the next level. He demonstrates toughness on the field that is complemented with an agility rarely seen in a player at 6’0” 225lbs. In addition, his value as a three-dwn back is enhance by his ability to pass protect and his soft hands. He also demonstrates excellent ball security.


However, it’s Elliot’s toughness that could be an issue. He leaves himself open for big hits and he got almost 600 touches within his last 2 years.


Scheme Fit: Elliot is so talented he could thrive on many teams, but the Giants have operated under a RB by committee the last few years. And with Manning dumping the ball off frequently to Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, it’s unlikely there would be a place for a Smashmouth runner like Elliot.



2. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama


Scouting Profile: The Heisman winner had an impressive junior year to say the least. He carried the ball for the Crimson Tide 395 times, amassed 2219 yard on the ground, and 28 touch downs. These stats alone would play him at #1 on combine boards, except his skill set is quite specific.


He is a short yardage professional at 6’3” 242 lbs. A great power back. He has great ability to build up momentum and crash down on defenders going down the field. In the NFL, he could be quite successful in goal-line situations.


He lacks mobility due to his size. If he gets stuffed and loses momentum, it’s difficult for him to begin charging up again. Given the size of NFL players this could become a recurring problem. Also, he received 395 touches last season alone. Can he continue such a workload?


Scheme Fit: He is reminiscent of a Brandon Jacobs like back. Powerful and great in certain schemes. With the inadequate play of Andre Williams during the season, Henry could be a helpful replacement for short yardage situations.



3. Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas


Scouting Profile: Collins was behind Derrick henry in the Heisman voting after he emerged as the premier back for Arkansas. Despite this being his first year as a starter, he has amassed quite a career at Arkansas, compiling 1,000 yards in each of his 3 seasons. 


Any worries about Collins being the main workhorse were erased this season after fellow RB Jonathan Williams went down with an injury. His agility is great and has sound ability to avoid tackles. Great when working with daylight and has a nose for the end-zone.


He doesn’t generate a lot of momentum. Although he is great at avoiding tackles, he doesn’t excel at breaking them. His tendency to cut back can result in tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Also, he only has 27 receptions in his college career, so his catching ability is in question.


Scheme Fit: His lack of versatility is a problem. Without the ability to catch and past issues with fumbling, I doubt Ben McAdoo would be in interested in Collin’s services unless the price was right.



4. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech


Scouting Profile: Dixon has played his past 4 seasons at Louisiana Tech. A career of consistency, he has traveled 4480 yards in his career and found the end-zone 72 times on the ground.


With his speed and quickness, Dixon is quite agile in the field, but isn’t afraid of landing hits on cornerbacks and safeties at the next level. He is also reliable to catch the ball out of the backfield and excels at creating yards out of nothing.


His size is an issue. At only 5’10 215, his durability could be an issue at the pro level. Speed is also not at an elite level, making his style one that rips off chunks as opposed to long break always. Although ferocious, he lacks a bit in pass protection.


Scheme Fit: This later round back may be able to fill a similar role like that of Ahmad Bradshaw maintained for the Giants. Small, but very willing to take a hit. Unfortunately, like Bradshaw, he’s fumbled a bit too much and already has some history of injuries.



5. Devontae Booker, RB, Utah


Scouting Profile: Booker has the smallest amount of work to analyze, but has shown promise. In his 2 years at Utah, he has over 500 carries, at least 1,200 yards on the ground in both seasons, and 21 touch downs over that span.


Booker is a patient runner and good meld well with the right scheme. Due to this he rarely gets caught off-guard and finishes runs on his own terms. Displays good balance of size of speed, in addition to soft hands.


Perhaps with a larger body of work, Booker could increase his value. Tearing his meniscus his final season is also rather worrisome. For a RB, knee problems are hardly a small issue. Although he’s a balanced runner, his individual abilities may not be sound enough. While he is versatile, it’s uncertain if his individual skills can translate to the pros. 


Scheme Fit: With RBs being so widely available, taking backs in the later rounds has been a popular trend. The Giants could scoop Booker up and give him a chance to challenge other backs, creating competition in the backfield.


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