The NFL season is already about halfway through. At this point, fans know what to expect from their teams. Needs are surfacing and concerns are mounting for some teams.
It’s never too early to start looking into the NFL draft. It’s nice to not be the ignorant fan in a large fanbase. By getting to know these players, you get to learn more about your team's next draft pick or opponent's newest weapon.
I’ve ranked the top 10 rushers in this year's draft class. I wouldn’t consider this to be an elite class, but there is some talent to be had.
Take a look.
Marcus Lattimore is one of the most dynamic backs in football. In a class pretty limited on feature backs, he is the one that teams will gush over.
Lattimore has an excellent burst. His unique blend of power and speed makes him an elite prospect in the upcoming NFL draft. What I like most about Lattimore is his power. He hits the hole with such a punch that, even if he was to get wrapped up, he’s still going to drag the defender to the second level.
Watch Lattimore’s pad level; he is always trying to get lower than a defender to truck through him. There isn’t much to not like about this prospect. He is a true workhorse back.
If there is one negative aspect of his game, it’s that he lacks true game-breaking speed. I wouldn’t expect to see Lattimore breaking too many long ones at the next level.
Projected Round: Top 10
Joseph Randle is nasty. To me, he is the most intriguing running back in this draft because I believe he has an unbelievably high ceiling.
Randle is a very quick back. He has excellent vision and seems to know where each defender is on the field. That vision allows him to anticipate cuts, which he does fluidly.
I don’t know that I see a back in this class that moves laterally like he does while maintaining his power and speed. He is so exceptionally quick in his moves that he often leaves defenders in the dust.
Despite being a speedy back, Randle still packs a good bit of power. He is also a very capable receiver out of the backfield. Whether receiving or rushing, I don’t see Randle stopped for a loss a lot. He is always falling forward after contact.
One thing that has me weary about Randle is that he is 6’1” and could find it hard to get his pad level lower than NFL defenders. It’s hard to run over players at that height.
Projected Round: 1-2
Hello, C.J. Spiller 2.0.
Andre Ellington is ridiculously fast. I was recently watching him and found myself thinking that Ellington is on a different level than anyone else on that field.
Ellington gives you that shifty playmaking running back. He’ll outrun anyone on an opposing defense. He is very elusive and often makes defenders miss. Ellington has good vision. He sees defenses develop and move and is able to run in and out of their gaps to break off huge gains.
The negatives around Ellington are just that he isn’t very powerful. He’s 5’10” and 180 pounds. At the next level, Ellington is going to find a lot of contact at the line of scrimmage. Unless he learns to keep his legs churning and get a little pop in his play, he’ll see a lot of runs for a loss.
Projected Round: 2
Le'Veon Bell is a really interesting prospect. His power is incredible, and he really started the season off with a boom.
What I like about Bell is that he is rarely brought down at first contact. He is explosive through his gaps and can get to the second level with little effort. It seems like Bell is always gaining positive yards.
Bell’s weakness is that he doesn’t really have that next gear that makes him a legitimate home run threat. I think that Bell has a real solid future as a yards-per-carry back that can run down defenses.
Projected Round: 2-3
There is a huge disclaimer with Giovani Bernard. He is a very talented back who should be considered injury prone.
If Bernard can become more durable, a team will score big by drafting him. He is an explosive back who picks up yards in large chunks.
He has great speed and decent enough power to be able to break through weak tackles. Bernard is shifty and quick, which makes him almost impossible to tackle in the open field.
Like I said, the knock is that Bernard can’t stay healthy. When he does play, he’s always among the best players on the field. He is a viable receiver out of the backfield and is the prototype “home run” back.
Projected Round: 3
6. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford: Work-horse back who does everything well. Could be the steal of the 2013 draft at the position.
Projected Round: 3
7. Montee Ball, Wisconsin: Excellent skill set. Was considered a top running back prospect last year. Lacks true speed and burst and must improve a dreadful senior season to be considered a solid NFL prospect.
Projected Round: 4
8. Eddie Lacy, Alabama: Similar to the typical Alabama running back. Lacy has great power but doesn’t have the all around skill set to be great. One has to wonder if Lacy’s early success has to be attributed to Alabama’s tremendous line.
Projected round: 3-5
9. Knile Davis, Arkansas: I think it’s unlikely Davis comes out this season. He has a good skill set; he’s explosive and powerful. Yet, it doesn’t seem that Davis is maximizing his potential. He would be wise to stick around for his senior season.
Projected Round: 4-6
10. Mike Gillislee, Florida: Unlimited potential for the surprise Gator back. He has been stellar this year, posting a high average and leading the Gators to their top 10 ranking. He is a skilled blocker who can do it all. Gillislee could be trending way up with more consistent games like he has been having this season.
Projected Round: 2-6