Position Analysis: Running backs

The college ranks are bringing a large contingent of draft-worthy running backs to the NFL, but many of them, especially the later-round values, are more specialists than all-around backs. John Holler breaks down the top 20 with stats, analysis and more.

POSITION ANALYSIS – Not a stellar year for running backs, there likely won't be one taken until the middle of the first round. Mark Ingram is a former Heisman Trophy winner and likely the first RB to come off the board to a team like Miami at No. 15. While running backs will dot the draft board throughout all seven rounds, there may only be one or two coming off on Day One and a couple more coming off in the second round, making this one of the weaker classes at the top that we have seen in some time.

VIKINGS RUNNING BACKS – Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker, Albert Young (FA), Naufahu Tahi (FA), Ryan D'Imperio.

VIKINGS NEED – The Vikings used a second-round pick on Gerhart last year, so it doesn't seem likely that they will jump on a running back early in the draft. With Peterson, Gerhart and Booker all under contract, the Vikings, if they address the position at all, will likely wait until the late rounds to grab a rookie to compete with Booker for the third-down back role. Tahi will likely be a free agent when the NFL resumes its business and, given his up-and-down career, the team may look in the sixth or seventh round to potentially draft a replacement if Ryan D'Imperio isn't ready with his transition from college linebacker to NFL fullback.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

Mark Ingram, Alabama, 5-10, 215 –
Third-year junior…Two-year starter who rushed 329 times for 2,581 yards and 30 touchdowns rushing, and catching 53 passes for 616 yards and four TDs …Son of former Giants wide receiver Mark Ingram…First player to win the Heisman Trophy and National Championship since Tony Dorsett at Pitt in 1977…Has good run instincts and allows blockers to set up…Has size and strength to be a workhorse between the tackles…Good burst through the hole and rarely goes down on first contact…A willing blocker who can stop blitzers with leverage and strength…Secures the ball well and isn't a fumbling concern…Reminds some old-school scouts of Emmitt Smith…Doesn't have elite edge speed…Isn't overly elusive in the open field…Has decent hands, but wasn't used much as a receiver – averaging just one catch per game…Doesn't make too many tacklers miss and will take heavy shots before going down…Ran a 4.62 40 at the Combine with 21 reps of 225 pounds, a 31½-inch vertical jump and a 9-10 broad jump.
PROJECTION: There was some shock expressed when Ingram ran a relatively slow 40 at the Combine, but he isn't a speed merchant. Smith never had great speed, but did everything well, which is what Ingram does to a lesser degree. He won't come off the board until the middle of the first round (Miami could use a young RB), but should be the first RB drafted – for good reason.

Mikel Leshoure, Illinois, 5-11¾, 230 – A third-year junior…Became a starter in 2010, rushing 281 times for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns, while catching 17 passes for 196 yards and three TDs…Got suspended for a game in 2009 for violating team rules after missing time in 2008 with a broken jaw suffered in a fight with a teammate…Powerful between-the-tackles runner…Has good footwork to find holes and avoid head-on tackles…Excellent strength and isn't stood up too often…Best inside rusher in this year's class…Never had a fumble in 481 career touches…Willing blocker who takes on contact…Has surprising deep speed when he gets through the line untouched and is off to the races…Averaged six yards a carry for his college career…Not a polished talent and will need time to adjust to the complexities of an NFL offense…Wasn't used extensively as a receiving option…Doesn't always display patience and will run into his own linemen…Doesn't always give consistent effort…Ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine with 21 reps, a 38-inch vertical jump and a 10-2 broad jump.
PROJECTION: History may well view LeShoure as the best running back in the 2010 draft class is he goes to the right team – as a similarly sized Rashard Mendenhall did when he landed in Pittsburgh. He is a late first-round prospect and would look to be an ideal fit with a team like New England, which has gone with a patchwork running game for years. He has the intangibles to make an immediate impact. His stock is rising.

Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, 5-10, 211 – A third-year sophomore…Started all 13 games as a freshman, rushing 293 times for 1,720 yards and 21 touchdowns, but started just five of 10 games in 2010, rushing 110 times for 529 yards and nine TDs…In two years, caught just 26 passes for 289 yards and two TDs…Had good speed to get to the corner…Decisive inside runner…Sets up his blocks and strings moves…Is hard to bring down on initial contact and typically runs through arm tackles with ease…Solid receiver who can beat single coverage with linebackers…A bit undersized to be an every-down between-the-tackles NFL pounder…Needs to improve blocking technique…Doesn't have breakaway speed…Inexperienced at major college level with just 400 carries…Doesn't have great physical bulk strength and may slow down if he adds too much muscle…Missed time due to injury last year and carries some medical concerns…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine with 19 reps, a 40-inch vertical jump and a 10-3 broad jump.
PROJECTION: From the pure physical perspective and the lack of wear and tear on his body, some scouts think Williams could be the best back in the draft. However, had he returned for his junior season at VT, he could have been a top 10 or 15 pick next year. As it stands, he'll be fortunate to come off the board early in the second round.

Daniel Thomas, Kansas State, 6-1¾, 228 – A fifth-year senior who spent two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College (one of three junior colleges he attended) in 2006-07 before starting two years after sitting out the 2008 season…In two years, rushed 545 times for 2,905 yards and 30 touchdowns, while catching 52 passes for 428 yards…Led Big 12 in rushing both seasons…A tough downhill type of runner who gets stronger as the game goes on…Always moving forward and gaining additional yards…Almost prototype RB size and strength…Has good footwork to sift through holes that develop late…Looks smooth as a receiver out of the backfield despite not being used much in that capacity…Hard to tackle one-on-one…Durable player who never missed a college game due to injury…Doesn't have breakaway speed to tear off the 80-yard back-breaking run…Wasn't asked to be a blocker…Always had trouble with grades to remain eligible, which could be a red flag for teams that run complicated offenses…Wasn't used much as a blocker and, when he was, didn't always give top effort…Runs much too upright and will take too many big hits…Doesn't have much experience against top competition…Didn't run or jump at the Combine because of a hamstring injury, but did 21 reps.
PROJECTION: A big back drives through tackles, but doesn't offer much in the way of big-play ability. A second- or a third-round prospect who will be asked to be a role player. He has the talent to be a solid NFL running back, but has a couple too many downsides to go before the middle to end of the second round and more likely he will wait until the third.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, 5-6½, 192 –
Third-year junior…Started 35 of 36 career games, rushing 788 times for 4,051 yards and 46 touchdowns and catching 151 passes for 1,056 yards and five TDs…High school All-American and Associated Press Texas Player of the Year as a senior…Few college runners have even been as productive – he averaged 105 rushing yards in 36 career games and scoring 51 touchdowns…Surprisingly good inside runner who has incredible toughness…Has great speed to the corner and can make tacklers miss…Great initial burst…Can stop and start and get back to full speed very quickly…Incredible receiving threat, averaging more than 50 catches a year…Is very small and doesn't project to be a franchise-type back…Doesn't have great strength and will get swallowed trying to run up the middle consistently in the NFL…Doesn't show a lot of patience when plays get strung out and will take himself out of yardage opportunities…For his initial burst, doesn't have good long speed down the field to finish TD runs…Too small to be used as a blocker…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine, with a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-5 broad jump (didn't lift).
PROJECTION: A wild card among the running backs in this draft. He could be a poor man's version of Ray Rice, who has become a dominant player as part of an inside-outside combo. However, when drafting running backs, it's hard to justify taking a third-down/change-of-pace type higher than the third round. Fantasy owners may fall in love him, but GM's will likely be more patient in taking him. He's got Ray Rice potential, but he isn't Ray Rice.

DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma, 6-0, 214 – Fifth-year senior…Started 35 of 50 career games, rushing 759 times for 3,819 yards and 50 touchdowns and catching 157 passes for 1,571 yards and 13 TDs…Blew up in 2010, with 282-1,253-15 rushing numbers and 71-594-5 receiving – all single-season career highs…A classic North-South runner between the tackles whose production exploded in his senior season when given the chance to be the main man all season…Has solid burst and makes decisive cuts…One of the best receivers in the Class of 2010, catching 157 in his career and 71 last season…Has a second gear when he gets in the open field…Strong character and team leader…Adds the potential as a kick returner…Has a history of significant injuries – dislocated kneecap, a ruptured hamstring, ankle sprains and cracked ribs…That could be associated with an upright running style that opens him up to big hits…Doesn't make people miss…Age is a factor – sat out 2006 season so as not to be Adrian Peterson's caddy…Doesn't have the frame to take a pounding or speed to avoid big hits…Tied for first with a 4.37 40 at the Combine, with 21 reps of 225 pounds, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 10-10 broad jump (best among all RBs).
PROJECTION: A solid college multi-purpose back that projects to play a Reggie Bush type role in an offense as part-time runner and third-down receiver. He may go higher than he is projected here, but his downsides are pretty significant in terms of transitioning to the NFL. He could develop into a Chester Taylor-type runner receiver, but he will likely always be a role player and never "The Man."

Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State, 5-7¼, 199 – Fourth-year senior…Two-year starter who missed much of 2009 season with ankle injury…In two healthy seasons, he rushed 512 times for 3,220 yards and 32 TDs…Broke the Texas single-season rushing record held for more than 30 years by Earl Campbell…Is hard to hit and can burst through openings for big gains – averaging almost six yards a carry for his college career…Very strong legs to hold his ground in traffic…Dangerous in the open field…Has good field vision and sees holes as they start to open…Makes players miss in the open field…Kick return ability is a plus…Had a good week at the Senior Bowl…Doesn't have the size to run inside at the next level…Is usually stopped upon contact and doesn't gain much when wrapped up…Wasn't used as a receiver much – which is a detriment given that is his most likely NFL role…Does have good strength, bulk or bulk potential…Ran a 4.46 40 at the Combine with 24 reps, a 35-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump.
PROJECTION: Hunter is a player with talent, but, given his size, will be pigeon-holed as a third-down specialist/return man that will drop his value into the final day of the draft.

Shane Vereen, California, 5-9¾, 205 – Fourth-year junior…One-year fulltime started who rushed 231 times for 1,225 yards and 13 touchdowns…As a backup in 2009, still posted 183-1,000-12 numbers…Caught 74 passes for 674 yards and six TDs in three years…Excellent balance and agility to stay on his feet after contact…Makes good cuts when holes open up and hits them hard…Can change direction…Bounces runs to the outside quickly if holes are shut down…Compact build that makes him hard to zero in on…One of the best receivers among the 2011 draft class…Sets up his blockers well to the outside and shows patience…Never a workhorse type who has proved he can be a full-time back…Not an effective blocker and doesn't have the inherent strength to make up for it…Isn't cautious with the ball and will leave it open to be stripped, which will have to change…Played in a spread offense in which most decisions happened well in front of him in open space…Doesn't get a lot of yardage after contact…Doesn't have a second gear…Had a position-best 31 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine with a 4.49 40 a 34-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump.
PROJECTION: Vereen was Jahvid Best's backup until last year, yet still ranks fifth in all-purpose yards at Cal. He has a place on an NFL roster, but his lack of size will make him much more likely to be a specialist – and specialists start going in the fourth round.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Jordan Todman, Connecticut, 5-9¼, 195 –
Third-year junior…One-year full-time starter…In last two seasons, he rushed 569 times for 2,995 yards and 28 touchdowns…Proved that, despite being undersized, could be an every-down back – rushing 334 times in 12 games (28 carries a game) last year…Has good speed to turn the corner and make a one-cut up the field to cover ground in a hurry…He good initial burst into and out of the hole…Can make hard cuts and not lose speed or have to re-start…Works for yards after contact as hard as any other RB in the draft…Willing worker…Doesn't have size or strength to be a full-time back, a between-the-tackles workhorse or a consistent blitz pick-up specialist…Doesn't have the strength many of the shorter RBs possess…Doesn't break a lot of tackles once wrapped up…Doesn't have a second gear to take carries to the house…Hasn't run any downfield routes in the passing game and will need to learn…Ran a 4.40 40 at the Combine with 25 reps, a 38-inch vertical jump and a 10-6 board jump.
PROJECTION: Todman, like Donald Brown before him, showed that a smaller back from a school like U-Conn could get noticed for being a college workhorse, but Todman will likely best suit the role Brown has had with Indy – a part-time, change of pace back in an offense, but not a go-to 20-carry type. Those guys can be had late.

Dion Lewis, Pitt, 5-8, 195 – Third-year sophomore who spent 2008 season at Blair Academy in New Jersey…Started 23 of 25 career games, rushing 544 times for 2,950 yards and 30 touchdowns and caught 52 passes for 405 yards and one TD…Broke Tony Dorsett's school freshman rushing record and first player since Michael Vick to win both Big East Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year in the same season…Shows more than a willingness to run inside despite his lack of size…Averaged 114 yards rushing per game in his Pitt career…Has quick acceleration…Hits the cutback lane hard and effectively…Spins away from tackles well…An effective receiver who makes things happen in space…Doesn't have great top-end speed…Was much more effective in 2009 than in 2010...Very undersized for the rigors of the NFL…Doesn't have good power to gain yardage after contact on a regular basis…Not an effective blocker when asked to do so…Ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine with 17 reps, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 9-4 broad jump.
PROJECTION: A small, undersized back who doesn't have return experience, he could stay on the board a long time. He will be a roster-filler to start, but in the right situation could be a Day 3 player to follow.

Delone Carter, Syracuse, 5-8¼, 216 – Fifth-year senior who was granted a medical redshirt in 2007 for a dislocated hip…Two-year starter who rushed 269 times for 1,308 yards and 20 touchdowns in that span…Ohio's Mr. Football as a high school senior…Kicked off team after getting charged with assault in a fight with a fellow student in February 2010, but later reinstated…Compact frame with power to run between the tackles…Good speed to bounce runs outside and turn the corner…Maintains his feet well and rarely gets stopped in tight quarters…Keeps legs moving after first contact and consistently gained extra yardage…Doesn't shy away from contact and will lower his shoulder and deliver the shot rather than take them…Doesn't have a second gear to break clear in the open field…Is undersized…Had just 24 receptions in 42 career games…Ran a 4.54 40 at the Combine with 27 reps, a 37-inch vertical jump and a 10-0 broad jump.
PROJECTION: An undersized fireplug of a running back who will get drafted, but won't be brought in to be a starter. His potential to be a versatile and valuable backup will like have him coming off the board in the middle rounds.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Johnny White, North Carolina, 5-10, 205 –
Fourth-year senior…Started as a freshman and a senior, setting career bests in 2010 with 130 carries for 763 yards and seven touchdowns and catching 24 passes for 288 yards…Was moved to cornerback due to injuries in 2008…Good field vision and consistently hits the hole…Has enough quickness to the turn the corner and break off runs…Versatile, having played RB, CB, kick returner, punt returner and special teamer on coverage teams…Solid receiver…Limited experience…Injuries have been an issue each of the last three years and didn't lift at the Combine while recovering from a broken clavicle…Doesn't break too many tackles after first contact…Essentially a one-cut runner who isn't very creative…A solid athlete who is a little smaller than most NFL teams want, but does enough things well to get consideration in the fourth or fifth round.

Stevan Ridley, LSU, 5-11½, 223 – Third-year junior…Never a full-time starter, because became the Tigers primary running threat in 2010 – rushing 249 times for 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns…Runs with good balance…Hits the hole decisively and consistently picks up additional yards after contact…Has good lower-body strength to push the pile…A punishing blocker when asked to pick up blitzes…Has very average speed and doesn't possess a second gear in the open field…Only started nine games and had just 300 college rushing attempts…Slows down when he reverses his field, allowing defenders to catch up…A player with a good skill set, he projects as a third-down type back, but never played on third downs at LSU, which could drop him farther than he should on draft weekend.

Evan Royster, Penn State, 6-0, 210 – Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who had 604 carries for 3,503 yards and 24 touchdowns in that span, while catching 58 passes for 544 yards and three TDs…Was one of the more highly recruited lacrosse players in the country as a high school senior…A durable workhorse type who started his last 38 games and had consistent production (averaging 90 yards per start)…Has strong lower body to pound the ball between the tackles…Has good balance and rarely gets tripped up or runs into his own blockers…Not a fumbler…Good receiver out of the backfield…Doesn't have great burst or distance speed…Is not a student of the game and doesn't put in the extra effort many of his peers in this group do…Runs with choppy steps that don't eat up a lot of yards getting up the field…A player who has proven to be a durable college player, his lack of explosiveness will likely keep him on the board well into the third day of the draft.

Bilal Powell, Louisville, 5-10¾, 204 – Fourth-year senior…One-year starter who rushed 229 times for 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns…Has powerful lower body and can break arm tacklers and run over defenders…Has good footwork and can gain something out of nothing…A solid receiving option…A hard worker who gives a lot in practice and the weight room…A good finisher who drags tacklers with him consistently…Doesn't have top-end speed…Runs east-west too often and that won't work against NFL linebackers…Doesn't consistently tuck the ball in when in traffic, which could lead to fumbles…Viewed by some as a one-year wonder…His work ethic and character will earn him points, but he is a raw prospect with limited experience, which should drop him into the later rounds.

Damien Berry, Miami, 5-9, 188 – Fourth-year senior who came to Miami as a safety, but converted to the offense in 2009…In two years, he rushed 283 times for 1,558 yards and 13 touchdowns…Has two children…Physical runner who pounds the ball between the tackles…Good burst into the hole…Reads blocks well and is patient before hitting the hole…Has a long stride in the open field that eats up yardage quickly…Suffered a torn right ACL and a partially torn ACL and MCL In October 2010, but kept playing and had surgery in December…Doesn't have a second gear and gets caught too often…Is skinny and shorter (5-9) than his listed height of 5-11, which cause some durability red flags…Attacks defenders, which isn't a wise move in the NFL…A solid college talent, but he doesn't have the kind of traits that make draft decision-makers drool over him. A potential third-down back and special-teams player who will make an NFL roster but will likely never be a starter. It won't help that he won't be 100 percent when teams are working him out following his knee surgery, which could drop his stock even father.

Noel Devine, West Virginia, 5-7, 160 – Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who finished his career with 729 carries for 4,560 yards and 29 touchdowns and catching 98 passes for 620 yards and two TDs…Most all-purpose yards (5,761) in school history…Lost both of his parents to AIDS before he was 12 years old…Has three children…Excellent speed and explosion…A difference-maker in the return game…Very good strength…Makes quick, decisive cuts and makes defenders look foolish often…Uses his lack of size to his advantage…Very strong…Size will always be his concern – there aren't many 160-pounders who last too long at the pro level…Doesn't usually get away from defenders when they get their hands on him…Will find it hard to be a third-down back because of his lack of blocking ability…Caught 98 passes in college, but averaged just seven yards per reception…Suspended two games last year for his involvement with an on-campus fight and was arrested in 2008 for a barroom assault…He will find a spot on a roster because of his return potential, but his size will have some teams not even rating him a draftable prospect, which will drop him into the later rounds to a team that already has depth at the top of their RB position.

Alex Green, Hawaii, 6-0¼, 220 – Fourth-year senior…Didn't have offensive attempts until 2009…As a senior, he rushed 146 times for 1,235 yards (a sparkling 8.5-yard average) and 18 touchdowns, which catching 27 passes for 363 yards (13.4 yards) and one TD…Physical and tough…Gains a lot of yards after initial contact and rarely gets slowed up by arm tackles…Is able to bounce plays outside to gain yards…Uses a stiff arm well…A solid receiver who has good hands…Runs too high and will take big hits…Viewed as a one-trick pony who is only effective running North-South…Isn't a good pass protector and will open his QB to big hits off of blitzes…Seems to go after defenders rather than trying to make them miss and sacrifices yards as a result…A hard-nosed player whose inconsistent production from one game to the next and one drive to the next is going to trouble coaches watching game film, which should drop him to the later stages of the draft.

Da'Rell Scott, Maryland, 5-11, 205 – Fourth-year senior…Never played a full season as a starter, rushing 430 times for 2,493 yards (5.8 yard average) and 17 touchdowns…His best season was as a sophomore (209-1,178-8) in 2008…Has explosive initial burst and can get into defense in a hurry…Very good lower-body strength…A home run threat…Good receiving skill set…Part of a three-back rotation and never got to play as a workhorse type of back…Injuries also played a role in keeping him back with knee and wrist injuries being a concern…Slows down when he changes direction…Isn't an effective between-the-tackles runner…Has a growing history as being viewed as a fumbler…Size limits him as a blocker…Has the tools to be a third-down type back in the NFL if not asked to block and has potential as a kick returner, but doesn't have the look of being an NFL starter.

John Clay, Wisconsin, 6-1¼, 258 – Fourth-year junior…Started 18 of 37 career games, rushing 629 times for 3,471 yards and 41 touchdowns…Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2009…After the 2009 season, he has surgery on both ankles…Incredible size and strength…An old-school North-South runner who can punish defenders…Rarely gets tackled high or slowed up by arm tackles…Played in a pro-style offense, which gives scouts a more accurate look at how he will transition…Plays with very little instincts and looks like he has blinders on, often shocked by hits coming at him…Doesn't have a second gear and gets tracked down constantly and consistently in the open field…Doesn't have the speed to bounce runs outside when the initial running lane is plugged…History of ankle injuries is a big red flag because of his size…Weight has fluctuated by 20 pounds in just a couple of months, so conditioning is a big question…There is a place in the NFL for Clay, who is massive and could be a short-yardage specialist, but he is a one-trick pony and physical inside run defenses will assault him. He will likely be drafted late, but he doesn't look to be more than a specialized role player.


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Not a stellar year for running backs, there likely won't be one taken until the middle of the first round. Mark Ingram is a former Heisman Trophy winner and likely the first RB to come off the board to a team like Miami at No. 15. While running backs will dot the draft board throughout all seven rounds, there may only be one or two coming off on Day One and a couple more coming off in the second round, making this one of the weaker classes at the top that we have seen in some time. Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker, Albert Young (FA), Naufahu Tahi (FA), Ryan D'Imperio. The Vikings used a second-round pick on Gerhart last year, so it doesn't seem likely that they will jump on a running back early in the draft. With Peterson, Gerhart and Booker all under contract, the Vikings, if they address the position at all, will likely wait until the late rounds to grab a rookie to compete with Booker for the third-down back role. Tahi will likely be a free agent when the NFL resumes its business and, given his up-and-down career, the team may look in the sixth or seventh round to potentially draft a replacement if Ryan D'Imperio isn't ready with his transition from college linebacker to NFL fullback. Third-year junior…Two-year starter who rushed 329 times for 2,581 yards and 30 touchdowns rushing, and catching 53 passes for 616 yards and four TDs …Son of former Giants wide receiver Mark Ingram…First player to win the Heisman Trophy and National Championship since Tony Dorsett at Pitt in 1977…Has good run instincts and allows blockers to set up…Has size and strength to be a workhorse between the tackles…Good burst through the hole and rarely goes down on first contact…A willing blocker who can stop blitzers with leverage and strength…Secures the ball well and isn't a fumbling concern…Reminds some old-school scouts of Emmitt Smith…Doesn't have elite edge speed…Isn't overly elusive in the open field…Has decent hands, but wasn't used much as a receiver – averaging just one catch per game…Doesn't make too many tacklers miss and will take heavy shots before going down…Ran a 4.62 40 at the Combine with 21 reps of 225 pounds, a 31½-inch vertical jump and a 9-10 broad jump. There was some shock expressed when Ingram ran a relatively slow 40 at the Combine, but he isn't a speed merchant. Smith never had great speed, but did everything well, which is what Ingram does to a lesser degree. He won't come off the board until the middle of the first round (Miami could use a young RB), but should be the first RB drafted – for good reason. A third-year junior…Became a starter in 2010, rushing 281 times for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns, while catching 17 passes for 196 yards and three TDs…Got suspended for a game in 2009 for violating team rules after missing time in 2008 with a broken jaw suffered in a fight with a teammate…Powerful between-the-tackles runner…Has good footwork to find holes and avoid head-on tackles…Excellent strength and isn't stood up too often…Best inside rusher in this year's class…Never had a fumble in 481 career touches…Willing blocker who takes on contact…Has surprising deep speed when he gets through the line untouched and is off to the races…Averaged six yards a carry for his college career…Not a polished talent and will need time to adjust to the complexities of an NFL offense…Wasn't used extensively as a receiving option…Doesn't always display patience and will run into his own linemen…Doesn't always give consistent effort…Ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine with 21 reps, a 38-inch vertical jump and a 10-2 broad jump. History may well view LeShoure as the best running back in the 2010 draft class is he goes to the right team – as a similarly sized Rashard Mendenhall did when he landed in Pittsburgh. He is a late first-round prospect and would look to be an ideal fit with a team like New England, which has gone with a patchwork running game for years. He has the intangibles to make an immediate impact. His stock is rising. A third-year sophomore…Started all 13 games as a freshman, rushing 293 times for 1,720 yards and 21 touchdowns, but started just five of 10 games in 2010, rushing 110 times for 529 yards and nine TDs…In two years, caught just 26 passes for 289 yards and two TDs…Had good speed to get to the corner…Decisive inside runner…Sets up his blocks and strings moves…Is hard to bring down on initial contact and typically runs through arm tackles with ease…Solid receiver who can beat single coverage with linebackers…A bit undersized to be an every-down between-the-tackles NFL pounder…Needs to improve blocking technique…Doesn't have breakaway speed…Inexperienced at major college level with just 400 carries…Doesn't have great physical bulk strength and may slow down if he adds too much muscle…Missed time due to injury last year and carries some medical concerns…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine with 19 reps, a 40-inch vertical jump and a 10-3 broad jump. From the pure physical perspective and the lack of wear and tear on his body, some scouts think Williams could be the best back in the draft. However, had he returned for his junior season at VT, he could have been a top 10 or 15 pick next year. As it stands, he'll be fortunate to come off the board early in the second round. A fifth-year senior who spent two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College (one of three junior colleges he attended) in 2006-07 before starting two years after sitting out the 2008 season…In two years, rushed 545 times for 2,905 yards and 30 touchdowns, while catching 52 passes for 428 yards…Led Big 12 in rushing both seasons…A tough downhill type of runner who gets stronger as the game goes on…Always moving forward and gaining additional yards…Almost prototype RB size and strength…Has good footwork to sift through holes that develop late…Looks smooth as a receiver out of the backfield despite not being used much in that capacity…Hard to tackle one-on-one…Durable player who never missed a college game due to injury…Doesn't have breakaway speed to tear off the 80-yard back-breaking run…Wasn't asked to be a blocker…Always had trouble with grades to remain eligible, which could be a red flag for teams that run complicated offenses…Wasn't used much as a blocker and, when he was, didn't always give top effort…Runs much too upright and will take too many big hits…Doesn't have much experience against top competition…Didn't run or jump at the Combine because of a hamstring injury, but did 21 reps. A big back drives through tackles, but doesn't offer much in the way of big-play ability. A second- or a third-round prospect who will be asked to be a role player. He has the talent to be a solid NFL running back, but has a couple too many downsides to go before the middle to end of the second round and more likely he will wait until the third. Third-year junior…Started 35 of 36 career games, rushing 788 times for 4,051 yards and 46 touchdowns and catching 151 passes for 1,056 yards and five TDs…High school All-American and Associated Press Texas Player of the Year as a senior…Few college runners have even been as productive – he averaged 105 rushing yards in 36 career games and scoring 51 touchdowns…Surprisingly good inside runner who has incredible toughness…Has great speed to the corner and can make tacklers miss…Great initial burst…Can stop and start and get back to full speed very quickly…Incredible receiving threat, averaging more than 50 catches a year…Is very small and doesn't project to be a franchise-type back…Doesn't have great strength and will get swallowed trying to run up the middle consistently in the NFL…Doesn't show a lot of patience when plays get strung out and will take himself out of yardage opportunities…For his initial burst, doesn't have good long speed down the field to finish TD runs…Too small to be used as a blocker…Ran a 4.59 40 at the Combine, with a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-5 broad jump (didn't lift). A wild card among the running backs in this draft. He could be a poor man's version of Ray Rice, who has become a dominant player as part of an inside-outside combo. However, when drafting running backs, it's hard to justify taking a third-down/change-of-pace type higher than the third round. Fantasy owners may fall in love him, but GM's will likely be more patient in taking him. He's got Ray Rice potential, but he isn't Ray Rice. Fifth-year senior…Started 35 of 50 career games, rushing 759 times for 3,819 yards and 50 touchdowns and catching 157 passes for 1,571 yards and 13 TDs…Blew up in 2010, with 282-1,253-15 rushing numbers and 71-594-5 receiving – all single-season career highs…A classic North-South runner between the tackles whose production exploded in his senior season when given the chance to be the main man all season…Has solid burst and makes decisive cuts…One of the best receivers in the Class of 2010, catching 157 in his career and 71 last season…Has a second gear when he gets in the open field…Strong character and team leader…Adds the potential as a kick returner…Has a history of significant injuries – dislocated kneecap, a ruptured hamstring, ankle sprains and cracked ribs…That could be associated with an upright running style that opens him up to big hits…Doesn't make people miss…Age is a factor – sat out 2006 season so as not to be Adrian Peterson's caddy…Doesn't have the frame to take a pounding or speed to avoid big hits…Tied for first with a 4.37 40 at the Combine, with 21 reps of 225 pounds, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 10-10 broad jump (best among all RBs). A solid college multi-purpose back that projects to play a Reggie Bush type role in an offense as part-time runner and third-down receiver. He may go higher than he is projected here, but his downsides are pretty significant in terms of transitioning to the NFL. He could develop into a Chester Taylor-type runner receiver, but he will likely always be a role player and never \"The Man.\" Fourth-year senior…Two-year starter who missed much of 2009 season with ankle injury…In two healthy seasons, he rushed 512 times for 3,220 yards and 32 TDs…Broke the Texas single-season rushing record held for more than 30 years by Earl Campbell…Is hard to hit and can burst through openings for big gains – averaging almost six yards a carry for his college career…Very strong legs to hold his ground in traffic…Dangerous in the open field…Has good field vision and sees holes as they start to open…Makes players miss in the open field…Kick return ability is a plus…Had a good week at the Senior Bowl…Doesn't have the size to run inside at the next level…Is usually stopped upon contact and doesn't gain much when wrapped up…Wasn't used as a receiver much – which is a detriment given that is his most likely NFL role…Does have good strength, bulk or bulk potential…Ran a 4.46 40 at the Combine with 24 reps, a 35-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump. Hunter is a player with talent, but, given his size, will be pigeon-holed as a third-down specialist/return man that will drop his value into the final day of the draft. Fourth-year junior…One-year fulltime started who rushed 231 times for 1,225 yards and 13 touchdowns…As a backup in 2009, still posted 183-1,000-12 numbers…Caught 74 passes for 674 yards and six TDs in three years…Excellent balance and agility to stay on his feet after contact…Makes good cuts when holes open up and hits them hard…Can change direction…Bounces runs to the outside quickly if holes are shut down…Compact build that makes him hard to zero in on…One of the best receivers among the 2011 draft class…Sets up his blockers well to the outside and shows patience…Never a workhorse type who has proved he can be a full-time back…Not an effective blocker and doesn't have the inherent strength to make up for it…Isn't cautious with the ball and will leave it open to be stripped, which will have to change…Played in a spread offense in which most decisions happened well in front of him in open space…Doesn't get a lot of yardage after contact…Doesn't have a second gear…Had a position-best 31 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine with a 4.49 40 a 34-inch vertical jump and a 9-7 broad jump. Vereen was Jahvid Best's backup until last year, yet still ranks fifth in all-purpose yards at Cal. He has a place on an NFL roster, but his lack of size will make him much more likely to be a specialist – and specialists start going in the fourth round. Third-year junior…One-year full-time starter…In last two seasons, he rushed 569 times for 2,995 yards and 28 touchdowns…Proved that, despite being undersized, could be an every-down back – rushing 334 times in 12 games (28 carries a game) last year…Has good speed to turn the corner and make a one-cut up the field to cover ground in a hurry…He good initial burst into and out of the hole…Can make hard cuts and not lose speed or have to re-start…Works for yards after contact as hard as any other RB in the draft…Willing worker…Doesn't have size or strength to be a full-time back, a between-the-tackles workhorse or a consistent blitz pick-up specialist…Doesn't have the strength many of the shorter RBs possess…Doesn't break a lot of tackles once wrapped up…Doesn't have a second gear to take carries to the house…Hasn't run any downfield routes in the passing game and will need to learn…Ran a 4.40 40 at the Combine with 25 reps, a 38-inch vertical jump and a 10-6 board jump. Todman, like Donald Brown before him, showed that a smaller back from a school like U-Conn could get noticed for being a college workhorse, but Todman will likely best suit the role Brown has had with Indy – a part-time, change of pace back in an offense, but not a go-to 20-carry type. Those guys can be had late. Third-year sophomore who spent 2008 season at Blair Academy in New Jersey…Started 23 of 25 career games, rushing 544 times for 2,950 yards and 30 touchdowns and caught 52 passes for 405 yards and one TD…Broke Tony Dorsett's school freshman rushing record and first player since Michael Vick to win both Big East Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year in the same season…Shows more than a willingness to run inside despite his lack of size…Averaged 114 yards rushing per game in his Pitt career…Has quick acceleration…Hits the cutback lane hard and effectively…Spins away from tackles well…An effective receiver who makes things happen in space…Doesn't have great top-end speed…Was much more effective in 2009 than in 2010...Very undersized for the rigors of the NFL…Doesn't have good power to gain yardage after contact on a regular basis…Not an effective blocker when asked to do so…Ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine with 17 reps, a 34½-inch vertical jump and a 9-4 broad jump. A small, undersized back who doesn't have return experience, he could stay on the board a long time. He will be a roster-filler to start, but in the right situation could be a Day 3 player to follow. Fifth-year senior who was granted a medical redshirt in 2007 for a dislocated hip…Two-year starter who rushed 269 times for 1,308 yards and 20 touchdowns in that span…Ohio's Mr. Football as a high school senior…Kicked off team after getting charged with assault in a fight with a fellow student in February 2010, but later reinstated…Compact frame with power to run between the tackles…Good speed to bounce runs outside and turn the corner…Maintains his feet well and rarely gets stopped in tight quarters…Keeps legs moving after first contact and consistently gained extra yardage…Doesn't shy away from contact and will lower his shoulder and deliver the shot rather than take them…Doesn't have a second gear to break clear in the open field…Is undersized…Had just 24 receptions in 42 career games…Ran a 4.54 40 at the Combine with 27 reps, a 37-inch vertical jump and a 10-0 broad jump. An undersized fireplug of a running back who will get drafted, but won't be brought in to be a starter. His potential to be a versatile and valuable backup will like have him coming off the board in the middle rounds. Fourth-year senior…Started as a freshman and a senior, setting career bests in 2010 with 130 carries for 763 yards and seven touchdowns and catching 24 passes for 288 yards…Was moved to cornerback due to injuries in 2008…Good field vision and consistently hits the hole…Has enough quickness to the turn the corner and break off runs…Versatile, having played RB, CB, kick returner, punt returner and special teamer on coverage teams…Solid receiver…Limited experience…Injuries have been an issue each of the last three years and didn't lift at the Combine while recovering from a broken clavicle…Doesn't break too many tackles after first contact…Essentially a one-cut runner who isn't very creative…A solid athlete who is a little smaller than most NFL teams want, but does enough things well to get consideration in the fourth or fifth round. Third-year junior…Never a full-time starter, because became the Tigers primary running threat in 2010 – rushing 249 times for 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns…Runs with good balance…Hits the hole decisively and consistently picks up additional yards after contact…Has good lower-body strength to push the pile…A punishing blocker when asked to pick up blitzes…Has very average speed and doesn't possess a second gear in the open field…Only started nine games and had just 300 college rushing attempts…Slows down when he reverses his field, allowing defenders to catch up…A player with a good skill set, he projects as a third-down type back, but never played on third downs at LSU, which could drop him farther than he should on draft weekend. Fifth-year senior…Three-year starter who had 604 carries for 3,503 yards and 24 touchdowns in that span, while catching 58 passes for 544 yards and three TDs…Was one of the more highly recruited lacrosse players in the country as a high school senior…A durable workhorse type who started his last 38 games and had consistent production (averaging 90 yards per start)…Has strong lower body to pound the ball between the tackles…Has good balance and rarely gets tripped up or runs into his own blockers…Not a fumbler…Good receiver out of the backfield…Doesn't have great burst or distance speed…Is not a student of the game and doesn't put in the extra effort many of his peers in this group do…Runs with choppy steps that don't eat up a lot of yards getting up the field…A player who has proven to be a durable college player, his lack of explosiveness will likely keep him on the board well into the third day of the draft. Fourth-year senior…One-year starter who rushed 229 times for 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns…Has powerful lower body and can break arm tacklers and run over defenders…Has good footwork and can gain something out of nothing…A solid receiving option…A hard worker who gives a lot in practice and the weight room…A good finisher who drags tacklers with him consistently…Doesn't have top-end speed…Runs east-west too often and that won't work against NFL linebackers…Doesn't consistently tuck the ball in when in traffic, which could lead to fumbles…Viewed by some as a one-year wonder…His work ethic and character will earn him points, but he is a raw prospect with limited experience, which should drop him into the later rounds. Fourth-year senior who came to Miami as a safety, but converted to the offense in 2009…In two years, he rushed 283 times for 1,558 yards and 13 touchdowns…Has two children…Physical runner who pounds the ball between the tackles…Good burst into the hole…Reads blocks well and is patient before hitting the hole…Has a long stride in the open field that eats up yardage quickly…Suffered a torn right ACL and a partially torn ACL and MCL In October 2010, but kept playing and had surgery in December…Doesn't have a second gear and gets caught too often…Is skinny and shorter (5-9) than his listed height of 5-11, which cause some durability red flags…Attacks defenders, which isn't a wise move in the NFL…A solid college talent, but he doesn't have the kind of traits that make draft decision-makers drool over him. A potential third-down back and special-teams player who will make an NFL roster but will likely never be a starter. It won't help that he won't be 100 percent when teams are working him out following his knee surgery, which could drop his stock even father. Fourth-year senior…Three-year starter who finished his career with 729 carries for 4,560 yards and 29 touchdowns and catching 98 passes for 620 yards and two TDs…Most all-purpose yards (5,761) in school history…Lost both of his parents to AIDS before he was 12 years old…Has three children…Excellent speed and explosion…A difference-maker in the return game…Very good strength…Makes quick, decisive cuts and makes defenders look foolish often…Uses his lack of size to his advantage…Very strong…Size will always be his concern – there aren't many 160-pounders who last too long at the pro level…Doesn't usually get away from defenders when they get their hands on him…Will find it hard to be a third-down back because of his lack of blocking ability…Caught 98 passes in college, but averaged just seven yards per reception…Suspended two games last year for his involvement with an on-campus fight and was arrested in 2008 for a barroom assault…He will find a spot on a roster because of his return potential, but his size will have some teams not even rating him a draftable prospect, which will drop him into the later rounds to a team that already has depth at the top of their RB position. Fourth-year senior…Didn't have offensive attempts until 2009…As a senior, he rushed 146 times for 1,235 yards (a sparkling 8.5-yard average) and 18 touchdowns, which catching 27 passes for 363 yards (13.4 yards) and one TD…Physical and tough…Gains a lot of yards after initial contact and rarely gets slowed up by arm tackles…Is able to bounce plays outside to gain yards…Uses a stiff arm well…A solid receiver who has good hands…Runs too high and will take big hits…Viewed as a one-trick pony who is only effective running North-South…Isn't a good pass protector and will open his QB to big hits off of blitzes…Seems to go after defenders rather than trying to make them miss and sacrifices yards as a result…A hard-nosed player whose inconsistent production from one game to the next and one drive to the next is going to trouble coaches watching game film, which should drop him to the later stages of the draft. Fourth-year senior…Never played a full season as a starter, rushing 430 times for 2,493 yards (5.8 yard average) and 17 touchdowns…His best season was as a sophomore (209-1,178-8) in 2008…Has explosive initial burst and can get into defense in a hurry…Very good lower-body strength…A home run threat…Good receiving skill set…Part of a three-back rotation and never got to play as a workhorse type of back…Injuries also played a role in keeping him back with knee and wrist injuries being a concern…Slows down when he changes direction…Isn't an effective between-the-tackles runner…Has a growing history as being viewed as a fumbler…Size limits him as a blocker…Has the tools to be a third-down type back in the NFL if not asked to block and has potential as a kick returner, but doesn't have the look of being an NFL starter. Fourth-year junior…Started 18 of 37 career games, rushing 629 times for 3,471 yards and 41 touchdowns…Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2009…After the 2009 season, he has surgery on both ankles…Incredible size and strength…An old-school North-South runner who can punish defenders…Rarely gets tackled high or slowed up by arm tackles…Played in a pro-style offense, which gives scouts a more accurate look at how he will transition…Plays with very little instincts and looks like he has blinders on, often shocked by hits coming at him…Doesn't have a second gear and gets tracked down constantly and consistently in the open field…Doesn't have the speed to bounce runs outside when the initial running lane is plugged…History of ankle injuries is a big red flag because of his size…Weight has fluctuated by 20 pounds in just a couple of months, so conditioning is a big question…There is a place in the NFL for Clay, who is massive and could be a short-yardage specialist, but he is a one-trick pony and physical inside run defenses will assault him. He will likely be drafted late, but he doesn't look to be more than a specialized role player. 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