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Thursday, April 19, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Top Ten Running Backs

The running back position has been decreasing in value in executive offices for quite some time. After the last few seasons, with the proliferation of the passing game, they're going to fall even further down the list. Outside of Trent Richardson, I wouldn't be surprised if the second back didn't come off the board until the forties. This has nothing to do with the quality of the backs in this draft, but just the evolution of the offensive game plan.

Simply put, Trent Richardson is the best all around back to come into the league since Adrian Peterson. While he's not the athlete AD is, he's better in the passing game, both blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. In short, he's a true three-down back. Coupled with Peterson's injury issues and fumbling problem, I would be tempted to take Richardson over him if I had to draft one of them.

David Wilson and Doug Martin, of Virginia Tech and Boise State respectively, are also three-down backs. I like both of them, but I give the edge to Wilson, because I think he has a much higher upside. On a side note, he really impressed scouts at the Combine by showing up to all of his interviews in a suit. Supposedly, he did the same thing when attending classes. It may sound silly, but that's the kind of statement that tells you he's serious about impressing and that he's mature.

Here are the rankings:


1Trent RichardsonAlabama5092228
2David WilsonVirginia Tech5095206
3Doug MartinBoise St.5081211
4Isaiah PeadCincinnati5097197
5LaMichael JamesOregon5080194
6Lamar MillerMiami5106212
7Christopher PolkWashington5106215
8Cyrus GrayTexas A&M5102206
9Tauren PooleTennessee5095205
10Robert TurbinUtah St.5095222

There are a couple of guys that I think are being overrated by the analysts I've heard. First off, Chris Polk, who's in most people's top five, might be steady, but he doesn't possess any qualities or show anything that made me think he will be an above-average NFL back. He's not a quick-twitch athlete with burst.

Next, Lamar Miller has great burst, lateral movement, and from all I've heard, he's a good citizen, whose coaches and teammates love. However, Miller's shoulder problems worry me. I don't care how fast you are, there will always be a time in the NFL when you have to drop the shoulder and truck someone. Even after the shoulder surgeries, we're still really not sure he can do that. In addition, I don't see him breaking many tackles. That is an absolute must in the league.

On the other hand, there's one guy I think can make a splash at the next level and another that I'm simply rooting for. LaMichael James did nothing but produce at Oregon and showed that he has great burst and explosiveness. He shows good vision and the ability to be a one-cut-and-go back. The only concern I have is his size. He'll either have to get in a situation where he only handles the ball 50% of the time or put on 10 to 15 pounds and keep his quickness.

Lastly, Robert Turbin of Utah State has all the tools to be a good back. He looks much bigger than the 222 pounds he weighed at the Combine, and it's chiseled. At first, I thought I was looking at a linebacker. He plays with explosion and power, quick feet, and for someone as tightly built as he is, he displays good flexibility.

However, it's everything he's been through that makes you want the guy to succeed. He was raised in a single parent home (his father), because his mother was simply never around. His brother has been in-and-out of jail for most of his life. He has two sisters - one died when she was only 21 and the other has been paralyzed since birth. Because of injuries, he has lost two full seasons while in college. Through it all, his coaches couldn't be more complimentary, and there's no way you can question his drive, will, and character. If I had a late round pick and was simply looking for a good football player who I wouldn't have to worry about off-the-field, Turbin would be at the top of the list.

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