NEW YORK -- There's not a whole lot that anyone knows about the 2011 NFL Draft, thanks to the labor situation keeping the Panthers from negotiating with one prospect. But there is one truth that we think we know: there might be a single running back taken in the first round.
One. That's it ... if someone bites on Mark Ingram with their top pick. However, Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams -- the third-ranked RB on CBSSports.com's prospect board -- thinks something different might unfold. In fact, he thinks we'll see "a couple running backs" go early on Thursday.
"The draft is full of surprises," Ryan Williams told CBSSports.com at NIKETOWN on Wednesday. "They say they don't want running backs in the first round -- how can you not take running backs in the first round when a lot of teams are taking running backs.
"I think we're going to get a couple running backs in the first round."
But at the stage that he said this (less than 24 hours from the first round), there's not a whole lot for him to gain from saying this. He knows who's interested in his services.
And he also knows how many teams might be desperate for a second and/or first explosive running back capable of stepping in and making a difference right away.
"You look at the Dolphins, they're losing Ricky [Williams], Ronnie [Brown]," Williams said. "You look at the Bengals, they're losing [Cedric] Benson. Redskins lost [Clinton] Portis.
"Knowshon [Moreno] with the injury problems. Baltimore Ravens with Willis McGahee … so the list goes on."
Williams also added about the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, "he's already gone."
And he's right. These guys are either out the door or likely gone. Miami's made their intentions clear (it's why nearly everyone has Ingram pegged to the Dolphins), DeAngelo seems like a lock to leave the Carolinas because of his status and Jonathan Stewart, Benson is an unrestricted free agent, etc., etc.
That's the weird thing about this draft -- there's a lot of teams who need running backs but a ton of teams who aren't acting all that interested in taking a running back early. After all, there's a ton of depth and, as always in this day and age, a ton of teams that actually need healthy, talented running backs.
For the Dolphins, Williams already has a solution: draft and pair him with Darren Evans, our 31st-ranked running back prospect , who also happens to have played at Virginia Tech.
"You know what would be great? If the Dolphins picked up me and Darren [Evans of Virginia Tech]," Williams half-joked. "I feel like me and Darren pair well with each other. They're losing Ricky and Ronnie -- pick up Ryan and Darren."
No one's going to bank on the Dolphins listening to Williams' advice, much less a pile of teams jumping all over a running back in the first round, but just remember if they do -- after giving credit for where you heard it first -- tell someone to hire Williams as a draft analyst ASAP.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .