1. Leonard Fournette LSU Tigers: Fournette is generally considered to be the top back in this year’s class, and for good reason. He rushed for over 1,900 yards and 22 touchdowns during the 2015 season, while totaling eight touchdowns on just under 850 yards in an injury-riddled 2016 campaign. Fournette has the obvious physical tools—he weighed in at 240 pounds at the combine—and uses that size to dominate opposing secondary players. He has the build of a linebacker and the speed of a wide receiver, and has the rare ability to finish off runs, something that makes him very useful in goal line and short-yardage situations. Other measurements from Wednesday at the combine were his height of 6 feet and hands that measured at 9.25 inches. He has drawn comparisons to Bo Jackson by many scouts, but the ankle injury he battled through last season may have some concerned as to whether he can stay healthy, especially considering his hard-nosed style of play. Overall, Fournette is a great talent with a rare blend of size, speed and power. There are durability concerns due to physical running style, but he has All-Pro potential.
2. D'Onta Foreman (Texas Longhorns): Foreman measured in on Wednesday at 6 feet 2 inches and weighed in at 233 pounds, providing some relief to scouts after being listed as 250 pounds in college. He was one of the most productive backs in college football in 2016, gaining 6.3 yards per carry on the ground and accumulating 2,028 total yards. Those numbers were a big factor in him winning the Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back in the nation. He has a nice combination of vision and physicality that can make him an impact player on any team that drafts him. Foreman’s ability to change direction really stands out on tape, and his patience to allow blocks to take place before he hits certain holes makes him a special player. He draws comparisons to Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart, who has a similar bulky build to Foreman and also possesses that combination of finesse and power that could make him a force in the NFL. Overall, Foreman is the closest back in the class to resembling Fournette physically, but he was able to cut weight while Fournete gained weight, and scouts are interested to see if Foreman’s weight loss makes him quicker and faster in his 40-yard dash.
3. Dalvin Cook (Florida State Seminoles): Although Cook lacks the body type of Fournette and Foreman at only 5 feet 11 inches and 213 pounds; he might be the best pound-for-pound back in this class. He has breakaway speed when he gets on the outside, and is often at his best when running with a lead blocker outside of the hash markers. He’s quick and hits holes hard, and has a nose for the end zone when his team hits the red zone. He’s a downfield runner, and always tries to run vertical as opposed to horizontally to gain as many yards as possible every time he touches the ball. Cook rushed for over 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns on 288 carries, and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Scouts believe that he can be effective out of the backfield, but worry about his lack of ball security and off-field issues. He’s drawn comaprisons to Edgerrin James, and overall is seen by scouts as a talented runner with big-play ability and a monster resume to back it up. Cook has the potential to be a rookie of the year candidate, as long as he stays healthy and makes good decision off of the field.