Running Back: Best, Sleeper, Overrated

Scouts weigh in on the quarterbacks with the best prospect, sleeper and most overrated of the class. While Alabama's Eddie Lacy probably will be the No. 1 back taken, our scouts think Le'Veon Bell would be the better match with Green Bay.

Here is a closer look at the running backs, compiled from conversations with scouts and the NFL's longtime lead scout, Dave-Te' Thomas.

Best in class

Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State (6-1, 230): Led the Big Ten with 137.9 rushing yards per game, good for third in the nation. He rushed for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns, plus caught 32 passes for 167 yards and another score. A workhorse running back, Bell touched the ball a staggering 50 times in an opening win against Boise State, including nine times on the final drive. In that game, the big guy leaped over a safety and ran over two defenders. "Le'Veon is an intriguing kid," a scout said. "He's probably worked himself up into that mid-second round. When I was at Michigan State (for its pro day), he caught the ball real well. He's smooth, he's fluid. Lorenzo White, who played for Michigan State and the Oilers (and is Michigan State's running backs coach), a year ago he told him that he needed to lose some weight and get down to about 230 to get that extra speed he'd need in the NFL. He's weighing 229 right now vs. playing at 245, so he feels a lot better. For (Green Bay's) style — zone running, downhill — he's a good back for that style of offense."

Overrated

Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-10, 220): Michael, a five-star recruit, was the Big 12's Freshman of the Year with 844 yards and 10 touchdowns. It was a foreshadowing of big things to come but also the start of a relatively disappointing career. As a senior, he missed two games and had just two starts, falling to No. 3 on the depth chart at one point. He finished with 432 yards (4.7 average) and 12 touchdowns. He was suspended for one game (and criticized the play calling via Twitter while watching the game) and ejected from another game for throwing a punch. "Christine, he's had some issues, man," a scout said. "Does he have ability? He has a bunch of ability. Can you count on him week in and week out? That's going to be his biggest deal. When you give him the ball, he can do some special things. In terms of finishing his runs and running tough, he didn't do that this year like he did his junior year. I'm not sure why. If a team jumps up there and grabs him in the third, they'd be taking a risk. In the fourth or somewhere in there, that makes sense." Thomas was more to the point: "Total freaking head case."

Sleeper

Michael Hill, Missouri Western (5-10, 204): Hill was a first-team All-American and one of three finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II's Heisman) with a whopping 2,168 rushing yards (7.0 average) and 16 touchdowns. He topped 100 yards in 10 of 12 games. Then, he was named MVP of the Raycom College All-Star Classic with 148 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. He ran in the high 4.5s at his pro day. "He's moving up on our board," a scout said. "That all-star game had a bunch of guys from the SEC and he didn't look out of place."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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