Alabama Heisman finalist Trent Richardson is the undisputed class of the 2012 draft where running backs are concerned. For the 31 teams that don’t land the Crimson Tide star, though, there are some fine consolation prizes waiting.
This trio of runners are poised to make a quick impact at the next level:
Chris Polk, Washington
Done in by an ineffective defense, the Washington Huskies limped to a 7-6 finish this season. On offense, though, Chris Polk put on an impressive show, finishing the year with 1,488 rushing yards and 12 TDs.
Polk is also an outstanding receiver who caught 31 balls and another four touchdowns. He has the toughness to be an every-down runner in the NFL. A potential late first-round selection, he could be the answer to the revolving-door backfield of the Browns.
LaMichael James, Oregon
An undersized scatback with blazing speed, James would love to be the second coming of Darren Sproles…though he’d settle for Reggie Bush. He rang up 1,805 rushing yards and 18 TDs in Oregon’s fast-paced offense.
James has durability concerns, especially after dislocating his elbow this season, but he’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field. That kind of electricity would make him a great fit for any team looking for a third-down back.
Lamar Miller, Miami
Lamar Miller’s 1,272 yards on the season doesn’t look like such an impressive total, but there’s more to the Miami sophomore’s story. He averaged 5.6 yards a carry while serving as the only reliable weapon on a disappointing Miami offense that struggled to a 6-6 record.
Miller has the combination of speed and power to be a terrific NFL feature back, but he’s also a big-play threat. He broke off runs of 35-plus yards in each of the season’s first five games.