Tag:RB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:57 pm
 

2012 RB class gaining ground with GMs

The current mindset in the league is to not use a top 10 pick on a running back, given the manner in which the position is utilized now, the relatively short shelf-life, and the success teams have had in unearthing viable and productive runners in later rounds.

There was only one runner chosen in the 2011 draft, former Alabama star Mark Ingram by New Orleans, and his onetime Crimson Tide teammate, Trent Richardson, could be the lone back in the first round in two months.

Richardson, though, is seen as a top 10 selection. But while Richardson is pretty much everyone's pick as the No. 1 back, and seemingly a lock to be chosen in the top 10, as usual there remains considerable debate about who the second back off the board will be, and how high he will be tabbed.

One somewhat surprising result of the combine, beyond the fact there are some speedy prospects, is that the running back spot as a group might include more overall durability and toughness than previously believed. Even in a league where time sharing has become so prevalent, those attributes are coveted.

A few scouts noted after the combine that nearly all of the highly rated backs possess some injury history, but have logged 200 carries or more in a college season.

Even a prospect with some definite warts, like Chris Polk of Washington, averaged 276.5 rushing attempts in his final two seasons. Lamar Miller of Miami, the speediest back at the combine (4.40), had a 227-carry season.

Virginia Tech underclass prospect David Wilson, another very fast runner, has a 290-attempt season on his resume. Doug Martin from Boise State had a 263-carry season.

And the undersized LaMichael James, a player some compare to Darren Sproles and viewed more as a complementary back because of his size, averaged 257.0 carries over three seasons at Oregon.

 As one general manager noted, Richardson probably will be the lone back in the first round, certainly in the top 20, but there "will be enough runners to go around."

--By Len Pasquarelli
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:22 pm
 

OT, RB depth underrated strengths of 2011 class

For most fans of the NFL draft, it is simply human nature to focus on the best players. These, of course, are the headliners that typically are drafted highest and thus, are expected to make the most immediate and lasting impact in the NFL.

Scouts, however, are very well aware of the fact that the big names will only constitute the first 32 or 64 picks of the 254 players selected this year.

As such, they're dedicating much of their attention to the lower rated prospects... and what they've been discovering is the unusual depth at offensive tackle and running back in this year's class.

By now, everyone knows the elite offensive tackles. Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder are all expected to be first round picks . The depth behind the "fabulous five" is worth mentioning too.

Teams are quite high on the toughness and consistency of Alabama's James Carpenter and Miami's Orlando Franklin. With a little fine-tuning, TCU's Marcus Cannon, Indiana's James Brewer and Florida's Marcus Gilbert could surprise. Though level of competition questions abound, no one dominated their opponents as consistently as Villanova's Ben Ijalana throughout his respective career. There are a lot of teams very high on the long-term upside of lower level FBS prospects Derek Newton (Arkansas State), Jah Reid (Central Florida), Willie Smith (East Carolina), Byron Stingily (Louisville) and Byron Bell (New Mexico).

Running backs offer similar depth.

I highlighted three of the "sleeper" running backs that I really like in this video with CBS' Lauren Shehadi. Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones and Hawaii's Alex Green are only a few of the backs not getting a lot of media attention that I feel will ultimately surprise. I'm also particularly high on Clemson's Jamie Harper, Louisville's Bilal Powell and Miami's Graig Cooper, though NFLDraftScout.com currently rates all three as Day three picks or, in the case of Cooper, even a potentially undrafted player.

Last year we saw two undrafted free agents lead all rookie running backs in rushing yards. Tampa found their star in former Oregon Duck LaGarrette Blount and New Orleans found a true diamond in the rough in former Tiffin Dragon (and Washington State Cougar) Chris Ivory. The three running backs drafted in the first round -- CJ Spiller (Buffalo), Ryan Matthews (San Diego) and Jahvid Best (Detroit) were all relative disappointments as rookies.

Considering the underrated talent of this year's RB class, don't be surprised if a Day Three find winds up competing for the league's rookie rushing title again in 2011...
 
 
 
 
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