Of all the positions on the field, running back is considered the easiest position for a rookie to step into and be able to make an impact on an NFL roster. For the most part, the position is reliant on instinct, and the responsibility does not change much when a player makes the jump from college football to the NFL. There is no doubt that some of these guys leaving college early will be an instant upgrade for whatever NFL roster they make.
Chris Wells, 1st Round: Chris "Beanie" Wells was the lynchpin of the Ohio State offense over the past two seasons. He is a big back, but Wells also has very deceptive speed with the ability to get to the edge and then run away from linebackers and some defensive backs. The knock on Wells is his health. Not only does he find himself hurt often, he seems to get hurt in big games, or just before them. In all honesty, Wells probably chose to leave Ohio State early to avoid another injury while in college, injury that could have hurt his draft stock. Wells will go in the first round, but I don’t think he should be the first back off the board. I would take him with caution.
Knowshon Moreno, Projected 1st Round: Moreno may be the most talented young player coming out, with Percy Harvin perhaps being the one exception. Moreno has amazing speed and a great burst through the hole when he runs between the tackles. Due to his exceptional athleticism, I expect Moreno to wow the scouts at the combine, and that should be enough to move him into the top 10 of this year’s draft.
LeSean McCoy, Projected Late 1st Round: Most likely, McCoy will not come off the board until late in the first round, or maybe even early in the second round. However, look at him to have the same sort of impact that Felix Jones had after he was drafted late by the Dallas Cowboys. McCoy can flat out play. During his days at Pitt, many anointed him as the second coming of Tony Dorett. McCoy did not let anyone down with those expectations.
Donald Brown, Projected 2nd Round: Brown is a flat-out workhorse in an era where workhorse backs are becoming harder to find. He carried UConn throughout the season, and for his final game in the International Bowl, Brown ran for 261 yards, proving he was ready to go pro. This is a good move, because with Brown’s rushing style, he will most likely break down sooner rather than later, meaning he needs to get into the NFL and start making money as soon as possible.
Shonn Greene, Projected 2nd Round: Talk about a Cinderella story. A year ago, Greene was out of football due to academics. In 2008 he was one of the hottest backs in the country, and he was rewarded for his efforts with the Doak Walker Award. Greene is a tough inside runner and was the only back to pick up 100-plus yards in every game this season. He should become a solid, reliable back for some NFL team. Leaving early was the best thing Greene could due because his stock could only go down if he played another season at Iowa.
Glen Coffee, Projected 4th Round: I don’t really like the fact that Coffee is in this year’s draft. He is going to need to really produce at the combine and at Alabama's Pro Day to increase his draft stock. I’m not saying that Coffee is not a good player, but he did run behind one of the best offensive lines in college football. Scouts take that into consideration when evaluating talent of his level.
P.J. Hill, Projected 5th Round: A lot of people said that Hill reminded them of Ron Dayne. He is big, powerful, patient in the backfield, and knows how to set up his blocks. However, also like Dayne, Hill is shaping up to be a shaky NFL running back. He is already experiencing injury problems which is something common for a bruising back of his mold. Hill will likely go on the second day, and you will hear about him late next year or sometime in the future in one of those ‘remember when’ moments.