Scouting the Running Backs

Teams are always looking for ball carriers in the draft. Whether it is franchise backs in the early part of round one, situational runners in the middle frames or ball handlers to add depth to a roster, running backs are selected early and often. This year's class offers a good stable of running backs that runs deep into the second round. The first pair off the board will be juniors followed by a trio of upperclassmen. The group is characterized by powerful, interior ball carriers.

Running Backs

Steven Jackson/Oregon St/6-1/235/4.55/Junior: Looking for a big, powerful interior back to carry the load? Then Steven Jackson is your man. Can only be used in certain offensive systems but a back you can build your offense around.

Kevin Jones/Virginia Tech/5-11.5/227/4.53/Junior: Jones is a great combination of innate abilities, football skills and physical stature. His athleticism leads one to believe he can be used in a variety of offensive systems that rely on running the ball. A solid prospect that will be an early choice this April.

Greg Jones/Florida St/6-1.5/250/4.58/Senior: Jones was well on his way to being the first back drafted last season had he left for the NFL until the injury. Combines many different skills with an overpowering style on the inside yet also displays the agility to get around tackle and cut the corner. A heavy-duty back that can handle many hand-offs, though his knee must be thoroughly checked out.

Chris Perry/Michigan/6-1/220/4.55/Senior: Known coming into his senior campaign as an underachieving ball carrier that was plagued with inconsistency, Perry answered many of his critics in 2003. Big and powerful, the former Wolverine starter also displays top running backs instincts and superb hands out of the backfield.

Tatum Bell/Oklahoma State/5-10/212/4.42/Senior: A hard working prospect and solid athlete, Bell has the skills that translate well to the next level. Known as a player that does the extras to become better on the football field, Bell possesses the abilities to be a primary ball carrier in the NFL as he is effective on the interior and has the speed to run around tackle.

Julius Jones/Notre Dame/5-9.5/217/4.51/Senior: Explosive ball carrier effective on the interior or outside of tackle, Jones is a patient runner who waits for blocks to develop then makes the first man miss. A gifted athlete, he has watched his draft stock soar since the post season and has the skills to fit a variety of offensive systems in the NFL.

Tatum Bell/Oklahoma State/5-10/212/4.42/Senior: A hard working prospect and solid athlete, Bell has the skills that translate well to the next level. Known as a player that does the extras to become better on the football field, Bell possesses the abilities to be a primary ball carrier in the NFL as he is effective on the interior and has the speed to run around tackle.

Julius Jones/Notre Dame/5-9.5/217/4.51/Senior: Explosive ball carrier effective on the interior or outside of tackle, Jones is a patient runner who waits for blocks to develop then makes the first man miss. A gifted athlete, he has watched his draft stock soar since the post season and has the skills to fit a variety of offensive systems in the NFL.

Michael Turner/Northern Illinois/5-10.5/237/4.51/Senior: A talented ball carrier productive anywhere on the field, Turner possesses the size and speed to be a starting feature back at the next level. May have dispelled the belief that he is not fast enough after timing to a 4.52 at the Combine. Must improve the finer details of his position but a solid first day pick that could crack a starting lineup by the end of his rookie campaign.

Mewelde Moore/Tulane/5-10.5/209/4.68/Senior: A quick, versatile ball handler perfectly suited for a West Coast offense, Moore was the "go to guy" for the Tulane offense since his freshman year and is a competitive prospect that can fill a variety of roles at the next level. His pass catching skills are such that Moore could effectively be lined up in the slot as a third receiver? The type of skill prospect that can have specific plays drawn up for his abilities at the next level.

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