Much of the focus of the annual NFL Draft – and rightly so – is on the blue-chip players that organizations are counting on to be the superstars for years to come, but the majority of NFL rosters are comprised of players taken in the later rounds of the draft each year.
Even if a team hit on every first- and second- round pick – which has never happened – and they were to all stay healthy for a decade – which also never happens – it would still comprise less than 40 percent of the 53-man roster.
Using the Minnesota Vikings as an example, they currently have 13 players on their roster that were first- or second-round picks and that is likely a little higher than the league average.
Much of the roster is filled by players who aren’t selected as high draft picks when the lights are the brightest and the national attention is focused in on the draft.
For those getting ready to hunker down for draft weekend and see where the top talent falls and which players the Vikings end up adding into the fold for their own future, these are the running backs who will be included among those who should get to hear their name called on draft weekend.
Leon Allen, Western Kentucky, 5-11, 235 – He had more than 2,000 total yards in 2014 but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of 2015 and will likely drop deep (if not out of the draft) over injury concerns.
Peyton Barber, Auburn, 5-10, 225 – He exploded on the scene in 2015, rushing for 1,000 yards and 13 TDs but would likely have better suited to stay in school one more year, back up his 2015 season and drive up his draft stock.
Tra Carson, Texas A&M, 6-0¼, 235 – A fifth-year senior who began his career at Oregon and ended up leading A&M with 1,165 rushing yards in 2015, he’s a hard-nosed runner who doesn’t have breakaway speed.
Josh Ferguson, Illinois, 5-9½, 198 – A Swiss Army Knife type player who can be a third-down guy, slot receiver and hurry-up offense option, he is too undersized to be an every-down bell-cow type.
Aaron Green, TCU, 5-11, 203 – A fifth-year senior who started at Nebraska. He’s a little undersized but was very productive his last two seasons.
Devon Johnson, Marshall, 6-0½, 236 – A converted tight end who ran for 1,700 yards as a junior in 2014, he missed six games last year with a back injury that will need medical clearance before a team jumps on him.
Daniel Lasco, Cal, 6-0¼, 209 – Came from a pass-happy offense in which he ran for 1,115 yards as a junior but dropped to just 331 yards last year as Jared Goff took over the offense.
Keenan Reynolds, Navy, 5-10, 200 – An option quarterback who ran for more than 3,900 yards over the last three seasons, he still has a two-year Navy commitment that will greatly impact his draft standing. A patient team could get a steal.
Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia, 5-10½, 208 – He led the Big 12 in rushing with 1,519 yards, but some scouts see him more as a wide receiver than a running back at the next level.
Kelvin Taylor, Florida, 5-10¼, 207 – The son of Fred Taylor, he is undersized but ran for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. He’s not as electric as his dad, but he could become a solid complementary back.
Soma Vainuku, USC, 5-11½, 249 – A fullback and special teams ace who will likely find a job somewhere as a versatile lead dog for a power running back in the NFL.
Deandre Washington, Texas Tech, 5-8½, 204 – Undersized, but an intriguing prospect who had 2,500 rushing yards his last two seasons. Has an NFL career ahead of him. Could be his generation’s Dave Meggett.
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas, 5-10¾, 220 – Sidelined last year with a foot injury or he likely would have been a mid-round pick. Now there are more questions than answers.
Storm Woods, Oregon State, 6-0, 212 – A four-year starter who was used as both a primary runner and receiver. His carries went down each of his four seasons, which will negatively impact his draft stock.