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2012 NFL Draft: 5 Mid-Round Options at Running Back for the Philadelphia Eagles

Louis MustoContributor IIIApril 6, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 5 Mid-Round Options at Running Back for the Philadelphia Eagles

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    After some wise acquisitions this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles likely have their eyes set on the 2012 NFL draft and filling the remainder of their needs through the process later this month.

    With most of their primary needs filled, the Eagles will use the draft to add depth to their roster.  

    Ronnie Brown did a dismal job as the backup for LeSean McCoy and forced him to shoulder much of the Eagles’ load on the ground. A draft class highlighted by talented running backs should present some tempting options for the Eagles to fill that backup spot behind McCoy in 2012.

    Here are five players that could alleviate some pressure off of the Eagles’ prized-possession McCoy and provide great support rushing the football for Philadelphia.

Bernard Pierce, Temple

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    Bernard Pierce is a hometown kid, hailing from Glen Mills and playing his college football at Temple University. He boasts great size, standing 6’ tall and weighing 218 pounds, and showcases good ability with the football in his hands.

    Pierce is an elusive runner, though not the quickest player on the field. He can deliver the blow when needed and plays best as an inside runner.  

    There will be concerns about his trouble staying on the field, but that enables him to be a good backup for McCoy, not projecting well as an every-down back.

Vick Ballard, Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard is a burly, power back with good speed to boot. Ballard was a highly productive back in college and has the physical tools to be successful in the NFL.

    Unfortunately, Ballard has a tendency to run very tentatively, forgetting to use his size to his advantage.

    Despite this, Ballard is a skillful inside runner with great initial burst to break through the line of scrimmage. He does not present the ability to be a feature back in the NFL, but would make a solid third-down back for the Eagles and delivers a much-needed change of pace from LeSean McCoy.

Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati

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    An electric back from Cincinnati, Isaiah Pead might be the most intriguing running back prospect in the draft.

    Expected to go anywhere between the second and fourth rounds, Pead will give whomever drafts him an instant boost in speed on the gridiron. As you may know, the Philadelphia Eagles love offensive players with speed.

    Pead is a talented, productive running back, contributing on the ground and out of the backfield as a receiver. He is not capable of being an every-down back, but combined with LeSean McCoy, the duo’s speed and athleticism alone could easily wear down opposing defenses.

    He hits the hole as fast as anyone in the NFL and is a home run threat every time he has the football in his hands. It will be hard to ignore this kid come draft time for most teams.

Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M

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    Cyrus Gray is another great back in the 2012 NFL draft with good, prototypical size and outstanding speed to go along with it.

    The Texas A&M product can play with the best of them, contributing on the ground or through the air.

    He is a shifty runner, much like LeSean McCoy, and does not like to go down on first contact. Question marks about his skill set have knocked him down towards the middle rounds, but for a team like the Philadelphia Eagles looking for a No. 2 back, Gray is a premier candidate.

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State

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    Undersized, but boasting phenomenal speed, San Diego State’s Ronnie Hillman is an intriguing change-of-pace prospect in this year’s NFL draft class.

    Having run a 4.45 at the combine and a 37-inch vertical jump, Hillman is one of the most athletic running backs this year. He relies heavily on that athleticism for his success, but has great vision from the backfield which enables him to be as good as he is.

    Despite being a very fluid runner, Hillman is not going to bowl anyone over at his small stature. However, Hillman has what it takes to make an impact when he is on the field and would be a solid addition to the Philadelphia Eagles backfield.

     

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