Of all the players practicing this week, Blount has the most to gain and the most to prove, and so far he’s been the best running back in Mobile. After his breakdown at the end of the Boise State game at the beginning of the year, Blount’s draft stock took a major hit. But after being reinstated later in the year, he was given a second chance to play football, and is now making the most of his opportunity to perform in front of NFL scouts. At 6-foot, 245 pounds, Blount is a big, physical runner who excels between the tackles. Through two practices, he’s displayed patience, excellent vision and a burst through the line. He’s finished every run and won’t stop until the whistle is blown. He’s also done a nice job during blocking drills and has showed toughness. If Blount continues to play this way, there’s a strong chance that an NFL team will spend a late round selection on him. Despite his troubles, he’s a very talented runner.
2. Rashawn Jackson, Virginia
Prior to the 2009 season, Jackson was primarily a blocking fullback who would occasionally be used in the offense. But this past year, Jackson showed the ability to be a capable runner in case of injury; he carried the ball 96 times for 461 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson has flashed that ability in Mobile, and in addition to being a competitive blocker; he’s flashed reliable hands out of the backfield. He’s finished all of his runs strong through the first two practices and is being recognized as a big back rather than a fullback.
3. Joique Bell, Wayne State
Bell has rushed for over 2,000 yards the last two seasons and has dominated the competition at the Division II level. His production at Wayne State earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and a chance to standout in front of NFL scouts. The 5-foot-11, 223-pound Bell has been above average, and has done some good things in the run game during practice. He’s shown patience and has good vision, but he’s not effective on the edge. He’s a downhill runner, who has an unorthodox running style in the open field. He’s struggled in pass protection and has to show more toughness against bigger opponents.
A four-year starter for Mississippi State, Dixon has been productive during his career despite not having premier talent around him. In Mobile, Dixon has been surrounded by the best of the best and has failed to shine. Measuring in at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, Dixon could stand to lose a few pounds and become a complete back rather than just a lumbering runner up the middle. He’s been disappointing in the passing game and appears to not give maximum effort. Dixon entered this week as a highly regarded runner with second round ability, but through two practices he’s been mediocre.
Tate is coming off of a breakout 2009 season where he rushed for 1,362 yards and 10 touchdowns, and unfortunately he has yet to standout for the South Team. Tate hasn’t been used too much and when he’s been involved in the run game he hasn’t impressed. In passing drills on Tuesday, Tate dropped a couple of balls and didn’t look comfortable catching passes. He’s never been a strong pass catcher.
At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, Miller has good size and quickness, but has been limited over the years due to injury. He’s been a pleasant surprise at the Senior Bowl and is a late round sleeper, who could compete for a roster spot at the next level. Miller has finished his runs strong during practice and displayed toughness in pass protection. But he has to work on his hands and become a factor out of the backfield.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: email@example.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.