Draft '02: Top RB T.J. Duckett

T.J. Duckett, Michigan State (6-1, 254 lbs., 4.37) Duckett is a total package back. He has the size and power to run between the tackles.

The All-Big Ten back also has the speed to stretch defenses on the corner and the feet to cut it back inside. Duckett has good hands and has had a few plays where he was split out and caught pass down field - just ask Michigan fans.

His blocking is still suspect, but to be honest, not many feature backs move into the pros as polished blockers. The only knock on him seems to be that big backs often get banged up and slow down earlier in their career than others.

He is Michigan State's fifth all-time leading rusher with 3,379 career yards and closed his career in strong fashion. In fact, he averaged 139.0 yards over his final seven games last season. He reminds some people of Jerome Bettis (Pittsburgh), while others say Ron Dayne (NY Giants). The biggest difference with making those kinds of comparisons is that Duckett can actually stay in on third down and contribute as a receiver.

His extraordinary Pro Day, which featured a 4.37 40-time, 25 reps of 225 pounds, 3.95 short shuttle and 37" vertical place him at the top of the list in terms of physical tools. Duckett, who played linebacker as a freshman, has gone from a short-yardage player to every-down performer.

The potential knock against him is that he runs a bit high at times and needs to do a better job of keeping his pad level down, while showing more balance after initial contact. However, Cleveland might find it hard to pass him up at pick #16, although Jacksonville could make a move on him at #9 if they decide to deal injury-prone RB Fred Taylor. Minnesota's #7 pick could be the place to deal up for any team that falls in love with Duckett's potential.

John Murphy, is the editor of www.draft2002.com and Director of Scouting and Evaluation for NL Sports. Be sure to check out the most in-depth, up-to-the-minute 2002 NFL Draft website and you can also email your draft questions to John from the www.draft2002.com website. This is the first in a series of draft reports by position that he will be providing for us. The top prospect at each position will be highlighted followed by a complete look at the position's other top prospects.

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