Best Running Backs
Feb. 15, 2002
Almost every NFL team is in the market for a Running back, whether it be to start or in a backup role. This year's class is full of good prospects, but not very many ``can't miss'' prospects. Here's a look at players we see getting the call on Draft Day.
There isn't much debate who is the No. 1 prospect in this year's RB class. The only possible knock on Green is that his receiving skills need some work. He appears to be ready to step right in and start from the get go.
Ranking: No. 14, 1st Round.
Foster is quite possibly the most talented back in this group. The problem with grading him is the troubles he has had in college. Injuries and suspensions make this prospect somewhat of a wildcard. Foster could be the best to come out of this group or the biggest bust. A lot will depend on the situation he's drafted into.
Ranking: No. 30, 1st Round.
Portis is a smaller back, who compares favorably to Warrick Dunn, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's as good a receiver as a runner, but that's not to say his running lacks much. Overall he has the ability to make a huge impact.
Ranking: No. 33, 2nd Round.
This kid is one of our personal favorites. Taylor is shifty, breaks tackles, and can run over a would-be-tackler when he needs to. He avoids the big hit and is a good shot yardage back. So why isn't he the top back of his class? He lacks the true straight line speed. If he can prove his critics wrong and run a better 40 time, he could move into round 1.
Ranking: No. 41, 2nd Round.
Duckett was amazing for the Spartans this past season. He was as close to being unstoppable as any back in all of college football. The problem we see for him moving on to the next level is this: big backs just don't seem to do well in the NFL. Duckett has better moves than the average big back, but making a name for himself in the NFL is going to be rough.
Ranking: No. 45, 2nd Round.
There was a time when it appeared Luce Staley was done with football. As a freshman he looked to be on his way to stardom. Then a knee injury, followed by varies other injuries led him to almost give up football entirely. This past season he proved to be 100 percent healthy, and ready to take the next step. Staley will fall in the draft due to his injury concerns, but it's hard to bet against a guy who has been through what he's been through.
Ranking: No. 51, 2nd Round.
Look out for this kid. In our opinion his stats don't lie. He was the dominant player in 1-AA football this season. He won't be drafted too early due to playing in a lower division, but he could turn out to be one of the top backs in this class of running backs.
Ranking: No. 65, 3rd Round.
Wells didn't do many things in college to draw attention to himself. He isn't flashy, he doesn't look like a great back on the field, and his receiving skills leave a lot to be desired. However, you can't ignore his production. Almost 1,300 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 5.2 yards per carry in the Big Ten are hard to ignore.
Ranking: No. 68, 3rd Round.
Not many fullbacks get drafted any more, but Johnson should be the first out of this year's class. He's a solid lead blocker with better than average hands. He also is a great short yardage runner. Johnson has the size and skills to develop into one of the leagues better all around fullbacks in a couple years.
Ranking: No. 72, 3rd Round.
Petersen is probably the best all around runner is this year's class. The problem is that's really all he did. He'll have to develop some receiving skills at the next level. Maybe the skills are there, and the style of offense at Georgia Southern just didn't allow them to come out? Peterson will also face a much faster game at the next level. He'll take more time than most players to develop.
Ranking: No. 80, 3rd Round.
Henry was a very consistent all around back in college. He's a very good inside runner, who is thought to be lacking the extra gear to break it outside. We feel he's way underrated, and could prove to be the sleeper of this class.
Ranking: No. 96, 3rd Round.
Davenport is a fullback with running back skills. He looked to be developing into a premier prospect as early as his sophomore season, but injuries have always seemed to hold him back. He could develop into a very good fullback, or possibly just end up a short yardage back.
Ranking: No. 98, 4th Round.
Redmon is an early entry candidate, who would have helped his draft position a lot by going back to school for another season. He was a standout this past season for the Gophers putting up big numbers against quality opponents. His lack of good size will be one thing causing him to fall towards the bottom of this year's class. The other will be his lack of receiving skills. At his size those skills are a must. His lack of development in this area will cause him to slide on draft day.
Ranking: No. 103, 4th Round.
The best back in the nation every other week. That's the way we saw it. The kid looked fabulous, then flat. Why? Just look at the schedule. Haywood couldn't do anything against the good defenses (Nebraska, Colorado, K-State). He has all the tools, including excellent hands, but if he couldn't get it done against the big boys in college, there's no reason to believe he can get it done in the NFL.
Ranking: No. 104, 4th Round.
Scobey falls into the same category as the previously mentioned Ennis Haywood. He was a team leader and showed flashes of greatness but when it came down to playing with the big boys, he disappeared. Scobey still has a lot to prove to the scouts.
Ranking: No. 120, 4th Round.
Williams came out of nowhere this season to be a major surprise for the Hoosiers. At this point he still has a lot of untapped potential. He's a power back with good hands, and has a lot of down the road potential.
Ranking: No. 131, 5th Round.
Gordon has been ranked by many to be a possible 1st round selection. In our eyes he has a long way to go. His positives are that he's big and fast. The negatives? He runs too upright and isn't very elusive. The questions about him making the transition from D-2, make us conclude, he's going to have a really tough time making the transition.
Ranking: No. 149, 5th Round.
This is the classic case of a great running back in a body that's simply too small. Stephens has all the skills for the next level, and is a great inside runner for his size. There's the size thing again. He's just too small to be anything other than a specialty back in the NFL.
Ranking: No. 162, 6th Round.
Burns is an intriguing prospect. He could be drafted much earlier, or not at all. He's very good in all aspects of the game, but not exceptional in any of them. Another year in college and we could be looking at an elite prospect.
Ranking: No. 166, 6th Round.
Martin is a very athletic blocking back. He has good hands, and could develop into something special if given the chance.
Ranking: No. 191, 6th Round.
Betts had impressive numbers this season at Iowa. Impressive until you figure in that most of his damage came in 5 games against weak defenses. We see him as an overrated prospect that lacks the overall game speed to make it in the NFL.
Ranking: No. 194, 7th Round.
Stackhouse is clearly the most dominating blocker of the fullback class. The reason he's projected low in the draft is because blocking is really the only thing he does well at this point. He doesn't appear to have much ability besides blocking.
Ranking: No. 204, 7th Round.
Morris almost came out after a fine junior season, and now appears to have made the wrong decision. This season he played in a platoon situation and struggled with it. He's a very talented back, who's out to prove he should be drafted much higher. He could be very successful at the next level if given the opportunity.
Ranking: No. 208, 7th Round.
Baxter is a very good runner from the fullback position. In the NFL, fullbacks don't get many carries on average, so his chances for success will be very limited. He could develop into a goal line back, but he lacks a lot when it comes to being an all around fullback.
Ranking: No. 223, 7th Round.