2004 NFL Draft Running Back Top 10

Heading into the final day before the draft, here's an updated ranking and scouting reports of the top 10 Running Backs for this years draft class.

Name: Steven Jackson School Oregon State Year 3Jr
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 241 40: 4.55 Pos: RB

Bio: Two year starter awarded multiple All American and All Conference honors during both campaigns. Finished his junior season with 350/1,545/19 rushing, also catching 44/470/3. Sophomore totals were 319/1,690/15 on the ground and 17/165/1 as a pass catcher. Has averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 743 rushing attempts the past three seasons.

Pos: Big, powerful ball handler with a variety of skills and abilities. Displays excellent vision and running instincts; patient, waits for blocks to develop then follows them at the line or down the field. Will pick and choose his spots, displays good footwork in a small area and weaves his way through the traffic finding the open spots on the field. Sets up defenders, makes them miss and displays a good burst of speed. Runs with balance, adjusts off the initial hit and effective between tackle or cutting the corner on the outside. Punishing runner that moves the pile and wastes defenders as he plows over them. Looks like a runaway locomotive in the open field and does not go down without a fight. A legitimate receiving threat that runs well after the reception. Effective blocking for the passing game.

Neg: Cannot run to daylight and lacks the great acceleration in the open field. Would not be considered an elusive or explosive back.

Analysis: An all around running back that can be a work horse carrying the ball, Jackson has all the skills to be a top ball handler at the next level. Has proven durability as well as productivity the past two seasons and combines power, speed and football intelligence. Terrific prospect for the next level.

Name: Kevin Jones School Virginia Tech Year 3Jr
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 227 40: 4.41 Pos: RB

Bio: All American and All Conference selection as a junior after totaling 265/1,494/20 on the ground. Sophomore totals were 160/871/9 carrying the ball when he split time with Lee Suggs. Played extensively his first year in the program posting rushing numbers of 175/957/5. Ran for a school record 241 yards against Pittsburgh last season, also recording seven 100-yard rushing games during the campaign, another Tech record.

Pos: Explosive runner with great elusiveness and the ability to create. Patient back that sees the field and follows blocks at the line of scrimmage or down the field. Quick footed, explosive and immediately cuts it back, bouncing to the outside and avoiding piles. Freezes defenders and makes them miss. Decisive ball carrier with top instincts. Finds the running lanes and bursts through them with authority. Slippery, runs with great balance and slides off defenders, staying on his feet to pick up the positive yardage. Fast enough to cut the corner or run to daylight. Gets through the tight spots on the inside and takes it North/South without wasting much movement. Strong lower body and does not go down easily. Improved his hands as the season progressed last year.

Neg: Gives marginal effort blocking and not effective. Though a strong runner, not a powerhouse on the inside. Played with a sore hamstring as a junior.

Analysis: Combining both skill and instinct, Jones is the complete package at running back and offers a variety of skills. His explosion coupled with the ability to run on the inside or outside makes him a perfect fit for almost any offensive system.

Name: Chris Perry School Michigan Year 4Sr
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 224 40: 4.52 Pos: RB

Bio: Shared Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors as a senior after rushing totals of 338/1,674/18. Third on the team in receiving with 44/367/2. Broke the century mark rushing the prior season after posting 267/1,110/14, while catching 14/156/0. Highlight of his junior season came against Florida in the Outback Bowl when he was named the game's MVP after gaining 193 offensive yards and scoring a record 4 touchdowns.

Pos: Tough ball handler that made a huge climb up draft boards after a monumental senior campaign. Patient runner that sets up blocks, has a burst through the hole and breaks tackles, picking up yardage off initial contact. Weaves through the small openings in defense or bounces it to the outside avoiding piles. Excellent ball carrying instincts and a north/south runner with an aggressive style. Follows blocks at the line of scrimmage or down the field and works his runs. Excellent receiving threat who makes the difficult reception in contorted positions.

Neg: Marginal blocker at best. Lacks the explosive footwork or the ability to immediately cutback and make defenders miss. Does not create if caught behind the line of scrimmage.

Analysis: Literally taking the ball and running with it as a senior, Perry had an outstanding '03 campaign and could not be stopped. Most important to scouts, he was consistent every Saturday and showed up to play football. The combination of running skills as well as the ability to catch the ball makes him a valuable player at the next level.

Name: Greg Jones School Florida State Year 4Sr
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 249 40: 4.58 Pos: RB

Bio: Three year starter that led the Seminoles in rushing since his sophomore campaign. Senior ground totals were 144/618/7. Second team All-ACC as a junior after 161/938/8 on the ground despite missing the final five games of the season with a torn MCL. Sophomore numbers included 134/713/6. Cousin to former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.

Pos: Big, powerful runner who carries the ball with a good degree of intelligence. Patient at the line, waits for blocks to develop and sees the field. Displays footwork in a small area with the quickness to avoid piles. Adequate skill around tackle and follows blocks anywhere on the field. Punishing runner with powerful hips and the lower body to break several tackles during a single run. Puts his shoulders down and falls forward gaining the extra yardage when tackled. Runs with terrific balance. Displayed adequate pass catching hands and blocking skills in the past.

Neg: May be too big at this point. Did not show the same blocking intensity as a senior he previously displayed. Seemed to lose the edge off his game as a senior after the knee surgery and had a very inconsistent week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

Analysis: When Jones eventually returns to full strength off his knee injury, he will fill a variety of roles at the next level. Offers the skills to be a big interior runner yet the abilities to take it on the outside if necessary. Also has the stature to be a fullback in the William Floyd mold. A projected high pick coming into the season, Jones could end up being a steal during the early part of round two.

Name: Julius Jones School Notre Dame Year 5Sr
Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 217 40: 4.51 Pos: RB

Bio: Academically ineligible in '02 season but returned to lead the Irish in rushing last season posting 229/1,268/10 on the ground. Led the team in both rushing and kick returning as a junior in '01 posting 168/718/6 on the ground and averaging 22.5 yards on 18 kick returns. Started four of ten games as a sophomore and registered 162/657/7 carrying the ball. Performed well at the Senior Bowl and had fine workouts at the Combine.

Pos: Explosive ball carrier effective on the interior or outside of tackle. Patient, waits for blocks to develop and makes the first man miss. Has a burst of speed, runs with authority through the hole and fast enough to turn the corner. Will pick and choose his spots, finds the running lanes and plays with both balance and body control. Works his runs, falls forward when tackled, yet at the same time elusive with the ability to create if nothing's available. Adequate pass catcher out of the backfield.

Neg: Marginal blocker that does not attack assignments. Has some fumbling issues which rear their ugly head.

Analysis: A gifted athlete that has watched his draft stock soar since the post season, Jones offers a terrific combination of speed and explosion. May not be able to handle the pounding of being an every down back but has the skills to fit a variety of offensive systems and should be a productive NFL ball carrier.

Name: Tatum Bell School Oklahoma State Year 4Sr
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 212 40: 4.42 Pos: RB

Bio: Three year starter who posted 213/1,286/16 on the ground and 9/60 as a pass catcher last season when he was an All Conference selection. Totaled 175/1,096/11 on the ground as a junior a breakout sophomore campaign of 197/776/6 rushing with 18/97 catching the ball. Performed well at the Combine completing 25 repetitions on the bench then running a pair of forties that averaged 4.42.

Pos: Explosive running back that's made a big move up draft boards the past three months. Tough on the inside, runs with authority through the hole and possesses a straight line burst of speed. Strong, puts his shoulders into opponents and falls forward when tackled. Improved his patience as a senior, waits for blocks to develop and displays the ability to make the first defender miss.

Neg: Must improve his blocking intensity. Not a natural pass catcher. Indecisive running outside of tackle.

Analysis: A hard working prospect and solid athlete, Bell has the skills which translate well to the next level. Known as a player that does the extras to become better on the football field, Bell possesses the skills to be a primary ball carrier in the NFL.

Name: Michael Turner School Northern Illinois Year 4Sr
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 237 40: 4.51 Pos: RB

Bio: First team All Conference selection as a senior after posting 310/1,648/14 on the ground while catching 19/230/3. Forced into the starting lineup as a junior and responded with a career high 338/1,915/19 carrying the ball, adding 10/100/0 as a receiver. Also started eleven games as a true freshman finishing with 200/983/7 on the ground.

Pos: Tough, durable interior runner capable of being a feature back. Combines power, speed as well as running instincts. Sees the field, patient and follows blocks. Easily keeps his feet off the initial hit, runs low to the ground and keeps chugging up the field. Powerful, picks up a lot of yardage off initial contact and tough on the inside. Gets around tackle displaying the speed and agility to beat defenders to the flanks. Competitive, plays with an aggressive style and gets stronger as the game progresses, taking important hand-offs deep into the fourth quarter. Improved his tenacity as a blocker last season.

Neg: Lacks a burst through the hole as well as overall explosion. Cannot quickly cut back against the grain and not a runner that creates if nothing's available. Did not distinguish himself at the Senior Bowl and looked slow.

Analysis: 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.

Name: Mewelde Moore School Tulane Year 4Sr
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 209 40: 4.68 Pos: RB

Bio: Leaves Tulane with setting 24 school records and 7 league records. Posted 185/915/5 carrying the ball also catching 39/408/4. Started the first nine games of the '03 season before being shelved with a broken bone in his left hand. Junior totals were 288/1,138/6 on the ground with 52/545/3 as a receiver. Had career numbers as a sophomore totaling 262/1,421/8 as a ball carrier and 65/756/7 as a pass catcher when he gained All American acknowledgement. Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2000 when he started seven games and posted 174/890/2 on the ground and caught 33/350/1.

Pos: Quick, versatile ball handler perfectly suited for a West Coast offense. Instinctive carrying the ball, immediately finds the running lanes and quickly gets through the open spots on the field. Also patient, waits for blocks to develop and works his runs. Elusive and slides off defenders displaying the abilities to create yardage if nothing is available. Tough on the inside, drives up the field and works to finish runs. Natural pass catcher possessing soft hands with the ability to turn the short screen pass into a long gainer. Viable receiving threat down the field. Quick footed in all aspects of his game.

Neg: Cannot take a consistent pounding on the inside and rarely picks up yardage off initial contact. More quick than fast and cannot run to daylight or turn the corner with regularity.

Analysis: The "go to guy" for the Tulane offense since his freshman year, Moore is a competitive prospect that can fill a variety of roles at the next level. Pass catching skills are such that he could effectively be lined up in the slot as a third receiver. The type of skill player that can have specific plays drawn up for his abilities at the next level.

Name: Cedric Cobbs School Arkansas Year 5Sr
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 223 40: 4.75 Pos: RB

Bio: First team All Conference choice in 2003 after rushing numbers of 227/1,320/10 with 8/34 as a receiver. Started the first four games of his junior campaign but sustained turf toe and finished the season with 74/399/2 on the ground. Suffered a hamstring injury in '01, playing in nine games and rushed for 102/340/7 on the year. Impacted the program as a true freshman in 1999 with a team leading 116/668/3 carrying the ball. Sat out the 2000 campaign with a separated right shoulder. Arrested in January of 2002 for DWI and possession of Marijuana but has since been tested every month by the school.

Pos: Big, powerful ball carrier that can be a team's feature running back when healthy. Sees the field, quickly finds the running lanes and will pick and choose his spots through the defense. Patient, waits for blocks to develop then slides through the small creases. Runs power and easily breaks the first tackle, picking up yardage off initial contact. Plays with terrific balance and easily regains running form off attempted tackles. Aggressive and moves the pile. Adequate quickness, footwork or the ability to bounce it to the outside and make the first man miss. Flashes skill as a receiver and effective running after the reception.

Neg: Not explosive and has more built up speed than a sudden burst. Fumbled the ball more than usual as a senior. Prior run-ins with the law are well documented and at one time labeled a "soft" player by his coaches. Durability is a major question.

Analysis: After his freshman season with the Razorbacks, Cobbs established himself at the next franchise running back to come from the college ranks. Injury and transgressions then slowed his development while limiting his playing time. Though Cobbs responded with a tremendous senior campaign he must still prove he can stay healthy, for an entire season to be a feature ball carrier in the NFL.

Name: Adimchinobe Echemandu School California Year 5Sr
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 226 40: 4.59 Pos: RB

Bio: All Conference selection last season after leading Cal in rushing with 238/1,195/13. Caught 22 passes for 185 yards. Did not play the prior two seasons due to academic ineligibility. Sophomore totals were 58/215/3. Cousin to former Cal defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha, first round selection for the Oakland Raiders in the 2003 draft.

Pos: Explosive ball carrier who runs with a good degree of power. Quick through the hole, gets a good head of steam going and drives up the field and stays on his feet off the initial hit. Aggressive, works his runs and picks up yardage off initial contact. Fast enough to cut the corner and displays a burst of speed. Improved his run instincts almost weekly as a senior. Good athlete.

Neg: More of a straight line runner who lacks footwork or the ability to elude defenders. Does not carry the ball with great balance or body control. Fumbled on several occasions last season. Seemed to wear down as the season progressed and his workload was greatly diminished during the late part of the year. Will turn 24 years old next November.

Analysis: A physically gifted prospect that stepped up to the plate as a senior, Echemandu displayed a variety of abilities in '03. Still a raw talent that needs work, he's a back that can be productive in a rotational system in the NFL.

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