One of the most difficult positions to evaluate for the NFL Draft is running back. The biggest problem isn't identifying talent, but determining draft position and value. Successful running backs have come out of a wide range of rounds, including undrafted free agents. Boise State's Doug Martin possesses the potential to develop into the most successful running back in the 2012 draft class.
It's very likely that he doesn't crack the first round, which shows the difficulty getting the right player at the right spot. Alabama's Trent Richardson is the only running back who is a lock to come off the board in the first round. He's the best all-around back and may be the closest thing to a can't-miss prospect. However, if draft history has taught us anything it's that there's no such thing as a can't-miss prospect.
Someone like Doug Martin has just as much opportunity to develop into an elite running back. His ability to press the line and quickly get through openings help him avoid losing yardage. He runs with great leverage, allowing him to pick up yards after contact. Martin boasts deceptive speed and the ability to score from anywhere on the field.
He has gained a lot of comparisons to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Both players are short and compact but still run with good power. Martin's success depends on which team decides to select him. Opportunity, scheme fit and organizational stability play a major role in the production of a prospect.
For example, Ray Rice could've landed with any other team in the league, which could've limited his development. Being selected by team with an established starter would have limited his carries and opportunity for success. Richardson could very well land on a team like the Kansas City Chiefs or Tampa Bay Buccaneers who already have a productive starting running back.
On the other hand, Martin can come off the board in the second round and find himself on team like the who Cincinnati Bengals, who need a long-term answer position. Talent is a major part of the a prospects development, but it's not the only thing that determines success.