2010 NFL Draft Running Backs Previews

Our NFL Fantasy Football Analyst Russ Bliss provides his analysis on this years draft candidates.

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1) C.J. Spiller, Clemson (5’10”, 196 lbs): Extremely fast and elusive runner with great field vision, hands for catching the ball, and who also excels in the return game. Doesn’t have the desired size to be a feature RB and is not a strong inside runner, but should excel as the lightning in a 2 RB platoon. Not a good or willing blocker and reports vary about his toughness. Has drawn comparisons to Chris Johnson, but is probably more like Felix Jones at the NFL level.

2) Ryan Mathews, Fresno State (5’11”, 218 lbs): Has the prerequisite size and speed (4.45 in the 40) to be a primary RB in the NFL. Tough inside runner with plenty of strength to break tackles and can also get outside. Lacks experience catching the ball as he only caught 19 passes in his college career. Has some durability issues as has missed time every year because of injury.

3) Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (5’11’, 229 lbs): A power runner who consistently broke tackles in college, Dwyer also shows surprising elusiveness for a big RB. Bruises his way thru a hole and is a load to bring down. Plays faster than his mediocre 40 times indicate. Wasn’t asked to catch many passes so his receiving ability probably needs work. There are questions about whether his stats were inflated because of the triple option offense run by Georgia Tech but considering his size and power, he should translate well as a 2 down player in the NFL

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4) Jahvid Best, California (5’10”, 199 lbs): Possesses breakaway speed and has a knack for making big plays. Not big or strong enough to push the pile, Best tends to dance trying to make a play happen when the hole isn’t there instead of taking what is there. Excellent pass catching abilities. Has had injury issues and is not likely to hold more than a complimentary player getting 10-15 carries on average at most in a 2 back system.

5) Joe McKnight, USC
(5’11”, 198 lbs): Is a multipurpose threat as a runner, receiver, and return man with excellent speed and vision. But lacks the strength to run inside and goes down too easily at first contact. Has had problems fumbling the ball and was not a feature RB in college. Another in the new line of smaller, faster complimentary RB’s in a two back system at the NFL level.

6) Toby Gerhart, Stanford (6’0”, 231 lbs): Strong inside runner with the ability to push the pile and doesn’t go down without a fight. Great character and works hard. Terrific college production (3,007 rushing yards and 43 TD’s the last 2 seasons combined). Has been a workhorse logging 553 carries in the last two seasons and there is concern about the mileage already on his legs. Lacks speed though and not very elusive, relying on his power to break tackles instead of trying to weave his way thru traffic. Could be a power RB in a split system - Big Guy reminds me of my article last year ( 2009 NFL Draft Preview Running Backs ) about Chris Wells. Also, some even think a switch to fullback would be more natural for him. Could be a lot like Baltimore Ravens RB Leron McClain in the NFL.

Others to keep an eye on:

Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State (6’1”, 233 lbs): 3 year starter who is a big, powerful RB with decent enough speed to be a successful power RB at the NFL level, but is disinterested as a blocker.

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Montario Hardesty Tennessee (6’0”, 225 lbs): Had excellent senior season (his first as the feature RB). Has good enough size and power, but lacks speed and not elusive.

Charles Scott, LSU (6’0”, 238 lbs): Has the size and an aggressive running style to be effective in the NFL but isn’t fast, needs work on catching the ball, and comes with some injury concerns.

LaGarrette Blount, Oregon (6’1”, 241 lbs): Big RB with marginal speed who comes with a lot of character questions after punching an opponent in the opening game of 2009 season. Lack of desire to block and inexperience in passing game make him a short yardage/goal line RB at best in the NFL. However, guys like this can turn things around and even become a TD maker in the NFL.

Ben Tate, Auburn (5’11”, 220 lbs): Has desired size and speed and a solid all around game but is more of a jack-of-all-trades than a RB who possesses any special abilities that really stand out.

Joique Bell, Wayne State (5’11”, 220 lbs): Small school stud with excellent build for the position to be a feature RB but lacks top speed and needs to show he can perform against top competition.

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