NFL Draft: 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. <br><br> This year's class offers a good stable of running backs that runs deep.

Ronnie Brown School: Auburn
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 233 40: 4.49 Year: 5Sr

Bio: All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 153/913/8 on the ground and adding 34/ 313/1 as a pass catcher. Posted career rushing numbers as a sophomore of 175/1,008/13. Used in the starting lineup at running back and fullback.

Positives: Well-built ball carrier with outstanding size/speed numbers. Displays excellent vision, immediately finds the hole and possesses good football intangibles. Follows blocks at the line of scrimmage or down the field. Excellent awareness in all aspects of his game. Solid footwork for a big ball carrier. Makes himself the hot receiver on blitzes and help out the quarterback.

Negatives: Indecisive blocking and tentative at times. Not a quick-footed, elusive runner who creates if nothing is available.

Analysis: A competitive back with outstanding physical skills, Brown proved himself to be a "do-it-all" ball handler in ‘04. Improved every facet of his game last season, especially his blocking and pass catching, and as a result will be an early first-round pick.
Cedric Benson School: Texas
Ht: 5-10.5 Wt: 222 40: 4.55 Year: 4Sr

Bio: 2004 Doak Walker Award winner and a unanimous all-conference choice after posting 326/1,834/19 on the ground and adding 22/179/ 1 as a pass catcher. Led Texas in rushing the past four years.

Positives: Big, powerful ball carrier who controls games or breaks them wide open. Patient back who displays vision at the line of scrimmage or down the field. Possesses some wiggle and juke in his runs, sets up defenders, making them miss at the point. Very tough to bring down.

Negatives: Gives minimal attempts blocking. Seemingly goes down rather easily at times or finishes the play running out of bounds. Experienced fumbling problems this season. Made some very selfish comments prior to his junior campaign when asked to share the load at running back.

Analysis: Benson has all the physical skills to be a premier NFL back. Must pick up the tempo of his blocking. A franchise running back when hitting on all cylinders.
Carnell Williams School: Auburn
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 217 40: 4.50 Year: 4Sr

Bio: All-conference selection last season as well as SEC Special Team's Player of the Year. Led Auburn on the ground, posting 239/1,165/12, adding 21/152/1 as a pass catcher and averaging 11.4 yards on 22 punt returns, with 18.8 yards on 8 kick returns. Fractured his left fibula during sophomore campaign.

Positives: Quick-footed, elusive runner who combines both the physical and mental skills to produce at the next level. Fast around the corner, has a burst of speed and can run to daylight. Game-breaking return specialist. Effective picking up blitzes and blocking in pass protection.

Negatives: Not a strong back effective in short yardage situations. Ducks his head blocking, which makes it difficult for him to finish. Has had problems fumbling the ball in the past.

Analysis: A ball handler who possesses great explosion and quickness, Williams offers excellent upside for the next level. Comes off a Senior Bowl where he was effectively used in a West Coast system.
Marion Barber III School: Minnesota
Ht: 5-11.5 Wt: 221 40: 4.49 Year: 3Jr

Bio: All-Conference selection the past two seasons. Rotated into the starting lineup as a junior yet still produced a career high 231/ 1,269/11 on the ground after 207/1,196/17 the prior year.

Positives: Nice sized interior runner with a good array of ball handling skills. Sees the field, displays the ability to cut back in a small area and avoids defenders or piles. Patient. Displays good footwork through the trash, straight arms opponents to keep runs alive then aggressively puts his shoulders down and drives up the field. Possesses the agility to get outside around the corner

Negatives: Must pick up the intensity blocking. Not winning out in any foot races.

Analysis: A productive ball carrier with good blood lines, Barber offers potential as a feature runner at the next level. Has a smooth style and plays faster than he looks on film. Also does a solid job catching the ball when it is thrown in his direction.
Eric Shelton School: Louisville
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 246 40: 4.57 Year: 4Jr

Bio: Led the team in rushing as a junior posting 146/938/20 while adding six receptions. Second team all-conference choice last year. Sophomore totals included 166/790/10. Began his college career at Florida State.

Positives: Punishing interior ball carrier who can handle a heavy work load. Possesses great power, can be his own blocker and breaks several tackles during a single run. Also displays good running vision. Fluid ball handler who looks like he's gliding on the field. Looks like a runaway locomotive on the open field.

Negatives: Lacks overall quickness and does not possess a burst through the hole. Marginal skills as a pass catcher. Occasionally lined up at fullback yet does not attack blocking assignments.

Analysis: A big, brutish ball carrier, Shelton has the natural skills to be a feature running back at the next level. Could pick up the intensity in several different areas, yet possesses good running back intangibles.
Ryan Moats School: Louisiana Tech
Ht: 5-8.5 Wt: 210 40: 4.50 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Two-year starter and WAC Offensive Player of the Year last season after rushing totals of 288/1,774/18 with 15/116/1 as a receiver. Allconference selection as a sophomore after 199/ 1,300/10 on the ground.

Positives: Tough, intelligent ball carrier effective anywhere on the field. Sees the field, sets up blocks and immediately finds the running lanes. Cuts back against the grain, elusive and has the ability to beat defenders around the corner. Slips the grasp of defenders, has a darting style and uses an effective straightarm to keep runs alive. Solid pass catcher.

Negatives: Must concentrate on ball security, as he will fumble at times. Gives marginal attempts blocking and is overrun in pass protection.

Analysis: Very productive the past two seasons, Moats projects well as a third down back at the next level. Though he possesses marginal size to be a feature runner, he is a complete back who could also see spot duty as a starter in the NFL.
Vernand Morency School: Oklahoma State
Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 212 40: 4.65 Year: 4Jr

Bio: All-conference selection who became a full-time starter last season, leading the team on the ground with 250/1,454/12. Spent time in the Colorado Rockies farm system before entering OSU. Will be 25 years old by draft day.

Positives: Explosive straight line running back with excellent power. Runs with forward lean, displays a burst of speed and quick through the hole. Breaks the first tackle and carries the pile. Displays top first-step quickness and can switch it on.

Negatives: Does not display top lateral speed and has difficulty if he must immediately change direction. Does not create and has difficulty running east/west. Must improve his blocking techniques. Ran poorly during his Pro-Day workout.

Analysis: A well-sized, explosive ball carrier, Morency possesses top physical skills for the next level. Lacks flexibility and is a ball carrier who needs room to work, yet he should produce for an offense that rotates ball carriers.
Kay Jay Harris School: West Virginia
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 241 40: 4.65 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Second-team all-conference selection as a senior after leading the Mountaineers on the ground with 140/825/9 while adding 16/131/2 catching the ball. Played minor league baseball. Will be 28 years old before draft day.

Positives: Well-sized interior ball carrier who can handle the load. Patient back who sees the field, finds the hole, then breaks several tackles during a single hand off. Possesses a burst of speed. Adequate speed and agility around tackle.

Negatives: Wastes a lot of motion and not an efficient, streamlined runner. Does not display the ability to change direction or cut back running full speed. Struggled with minor nicks and bruises the past two seasons.

Analysis: Possessing outstanding size/speed numbers for the next level and showing flashes of dominance carrying the ball, Harris is a prospect worthy of being a top-45 choice at face value. Harris sits as a late first day choice best suited in a system that rotates ball carriers.
Ciatrick Fason School: Florida
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 207 40: 4.65 Year: 3Jr

Bio: Became a full-time starter last season and led the team on the ground with 222/1,267/10, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Also added 35/266/2 as a receiver.

Positives: Well-sized ball carrier with a penchant for breaking the long run. Sees the field, follows blocks and keeps driving up the field. Excellent short yardage runner. Deceptively elusive, quickly cuts back against the grain. Displays good blocking vision, chips defenders, disrupting their angle to the play.

Negatives: Not a smooth back and looks like he's laboring most of the time. Does not run with great body control. Lacks the speed to run to daylight and possesses just adequate size.

Analysis: A productive ball carrier consistently progressing on the football field, Fason has the size and build to be a productive runner at the next level. May take some time adjusting to a pro style offense but has the tools to eventually develop into a featured ball carrier.
J.J. Arrington School: California
Ht: 5-9 Wt: 214 40: 4.48 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Junior college transfer who emerged as one of the nation's top backs last season after totaling 289/2,018/15 on the ground and adding 21/121 as a pass catcher. Averaged more than six yards per attempt on almost 400 carries the past two seasons.

Positives: Hard-running, tough ball carrier with marginal size for the next level. Waits for blocks to develop and displays good first-step quickness. Has a burst through the hole, beats defenders around the corner and keeps his feet moving up the field. Quickly cuts back against the grain, making defenders miss, and displays excellent footwork. Outstanding ball-carrying instincts as well as vision.

Negatives: Lacks the speed to run to daylight. Not a back who creates something out of nothing. Struggled at the Senior Bowl as his lack of size seemingly hindered him all week.

Analysis: Tremendously productive on the college level as Cal's feature ball handler last season. Offers a lot of skill for the next level, yet lacks the size to handle the workload and better suited as a situational running back.

Complete Running Back Rankings - Complete NFL Draft Rankings

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