This year’s running back class is loaded and features enough talent that we could see two players selected inside the 1st round.
The last time a running back was taken in the 1st round was the 2012 Draft which had three backs taken in the first. Those players were Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson. So far those three picks have looked horrific. Wilson has retired to injury problems, Richardson has been a major bust to date and, despite showing real promise in his rookie season, Martin has faded into a running back committee member in Tampa Bay.
As a result of this and some other factors the position has largely become devalued in the last few years. But the class features a burst of talent that could see several teams fall in love with someone early on.
So, here we run down some of the best:
By Stephen Rhoden Jr – Lead NFL Writer – @SRhodenJr
[youtube id=”LQkHP5BxxMU” align=”center” maxwidth=”680″]
Todd Gurley Georgia 6’1” 226lbs
NFL Films’ Greg Cossell, a man whose life and job is to watch tape of players, has Gurley classed as “the best back in the Draft” based on his film study and it is hard to disagree with him. Gurley has all the makings of a runner you anchor your ground game on for years to come.
• Physical runner
• Shows great balance and awareness of what’s going on around him
• Can break tackles
• Complete back, excellent in the ground and air game as well as a blocker
• Fights for every yard
• Major injury concerns, Gurley missed games in 2013 with an ankle injury and theN tore his ACL in November and is still rehabilitating.
• Concerns that injuries may have blunted his speed
Prediction – 1st round selection
[youtube id=”HsnQkFKz2t4″ align=”center” maxwidth=”680″]
Melvin Gordon Wisconsin 6’1″ 213lbs
Gordon is down as my 2nd best back in the group. He is an explosive playmaker who has drawn comparisons to Jamal Charles. I don’t feel that he is as good a back as Gurley is at the moment. However, Gordon comes with a clean record injury-wise and that could be what makes him go off the board before Gurley.
• Fluid runner who can string a series of move together
• Doesn’t lose speed making sharp cuts
• Rapid acceleration and when he gets going he is rarely caught
• Makes defenders miss in open space
• Not as polished as Gurley in the passing game
• Does not run over defenders
• Rarely finishes his runs with power
Predication – 1st Round
[youtube id=”UjR7oidwXOI” align=”center” maxwidth=”680″]
3. TJ Yeldon Alabama 6’2” 221lbs
TJ Yeldon is a step down from Gordon and Gurley and for me he leads the second wave of the running back talent in the draft. He is yet another product off of the Alabama running back production line. Joining the likes of Marc Ingram, Trent Richardson & Eddie Lacy to all make the leap to the NFL from the Crimson Tide.
• Big build and exceptional athletic ability
• Great acceleration and speed
• Show terrific vision in the backfield
• Can make explosive cuts which leaves defenders in the dust
• Stands tall when running so struggles to run over defenders
• Struggles to break tackles
• Shows hesitation when making moves which can slow down his momentum
Prediction – 2nd or 3rd round
JAY AJAYI BOISE STATE 6’0” 216lbs
Bounces off of tacklers. Can put a move on anybody. Doesn’t slow down on runs. Great balance between sped and power. Proper workhouse 3 down back Not the complete back yet. Looks to bounce to the side a bit too much
Prediction – 2nd round
DUKE JOHNSON MIAMI 5’9” 206
At threat on every play. Makes people miss and very strong. Toughness keeps legs churning. Can be used in return game. Great threat as a receiver. Reminds me of Frank Gore. Not got the ideal size for the position. Doesn’t break lots of tackles.
Prediction – 2nd or 3rd Round