The running back position is a difficult one to scout when deciding which player you want to select in the NFL Draft, especially in the first round. Due to all of the beating and pounding that a running back receives from play to play, injuries are occurring much more often and now teams have resorted to having two, three and sometimes even four solid running backs on their roster. Since players at the RB position are so disposable, their draft value is continually decreasing as seasons progress.
In the 2013 NFL Draft there will be no shortage of talented running backs. From Le'veon Bell to Mike Gillislee and Montee Ball, there are some outstanding, versatile players available at the running back position that could impact a franchise immediately. Generally, not many RBs are selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and this year will be not be much different. However, it would be no surprise if more than five backs were selected in the first two rounds.
There is unbelievable talent in the upcoming NFL Draft and organizations all over are already contemplating which players they would select. Many teams will stress their rookie search on positional needs, while other franchises decide to make their selections based on the best player available. Many teams will be able to take advantage of the incredible RB depth in this draft, and quite a few will be able to start their draftees right away and expect instant productivity.
The following five players are the most talented running backs eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Eddie Lacy is a strong, speedy back who can battle to find the open hole and explode into full stride simultaneously. Lacy is absolutely one of the top dual-threat running backs eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, with his explosive rushing and reliable receiving abilities.
In his junior season at Alabama, Lacy recorded five multiple touchdown games. He also scored at least one touchdown in nine of 13 games throughout the year. Lacy's gritty determination to fight his way towards the end zone every time he touches the football makes him a valuable asset, and a complete steal, to whichever team that may decide to draft him.
Weight: 220 pounds
2012 College Stats: 184 rushing attempts for 1,182 yards and 16 TDs with 20 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown
Current Projection: Early to Late Third
Joseph Randle had a spectacular junior season with Oklahoma State, however, his sophomore season cannot be overlooked whatsoever. In his second year in college, Randle put up video game numbers by rushing 208 times for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns. Add in 43 receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns, making him one of the most efficient running backs that year.
Randle is a physical force that constantly sacrifices his body to get into the end zone and he isn't expected to be selected until after the third round . Not only is Randle ready to play immediately his rookie season, but as of now he will be a complete steal in the draft currently projected for the third round.
For NFL teams that like to pride themselves on rushing the football, with the constant ground-and-pound, Randle is a great candidate. Last season, Randle recorded at least 100 yards rushing in eight of his 12 games and already has an NFL-type body that will only improve.
Don't be surprised if Randle has his draft stock rise dramatically once the college football and NFL seasons have concluded and more in-depth player research is done by organizations. If for some reason Randle actually drops to the third, or even fourth round, he will end up being one of the biggest steals in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Weight: 200 pounds
2012 College Stats: 257 rushing attempts for 1,351 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 28 receptions for 224 yards
Current Projection: Late-Third to Mid-Fourth
Mike Gillislee is an absolute workhorse who is tough to take down once he touches the football. In the most dominant conference in college football, the SEC, Gillislee has shown an innate ability to compete at a high level week in and week out. He has an uncanny ability to fight forward for extra yards when it seems as if he has nowhere to go.
Gillislee was a major part of a Florida Gators' offense that was just one game short of reaching the national championship, against a Notre Dame team they would have matched up very well against. After patiently waiting his turn behind standout players like Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, Gillislee exhibited his magical talents when given the chance this season.
Whichever team decides to take a chance on Gillislee will be ecstatic in the long-run. Gillislee may not instantly be a feature back in the NFL, but will most likely start as an outstanding role player who will eventually flourish into a dominant force. Once he adjusts to the elevated physicality and high-level play of the NFL game, Gillislee will be an elite back. There is a bunch of potential for Gillislee to thrive, but it will take the right situation and necessary development.
Weight: 209 pounds
2012 College Stats: 235 rushing attempts for 1,104 yards and 10 touchdowns along with 15 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown
Current Projection: Mid-Third to Late-Fourth Round
The past three seasons, Montee Ball has been an absolute monster for the Wisconsin Badgers, scoring loads of touchdowns and running for thousands and thousands of yards. Ball is hands down one of the most NFL-ready players in this entire draft and will contribute to whichever team drafts him immediately.
The performances he exhibited in his junior and senior seasons say enough. Running the football 639 times in his final two collegiate seasons, he recorded a total of 3,653 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns on the ground along with 33 receptions for 371 yards and six receiving touchdowns.
Second only to Le'veon Bell, Ball is an absolute no-brainer in the 2013 NFL Draft if a team is in dire need of heading in a new direction at running back. I believe Ball should be drafted in the second round, but that will only happen if a team decides to build him into a major part of the offense. Ball definitely deserves the chance, by the way, after performing in the superhero-like way he has the past two years for the Badgers.
Anywhere deeper than the second round is a complete robbery for an organization and any semi-interested teams that decide to pass on Ball will terribly regret doing so in the future.
Weight: 212 pounds
2012 College Stats: 332 rushing attempts for 1,730 yards and 21 touchdowns along with nine receptions for 65 yards.
Current Projection: Mid-Second to Mid-Third
Despite Michigan State struggling to a 6-6 record this season, Le'veon Bell established himself as one of the most elite running backs in college football. Bell has proven his superb football knowledge and skills since the very first year he joined this program. As a freshman, Bell garnered 107 rushing attempts for 605 yards and eight touchdowns, along with 11 receptions for 97 yards.
Bell has continually improved all aspects of his game throughout his time at Michigan State and has proven to greatly elevate his level of play in crucial outings and situations. In order to become bowl eligible, Michigan State needed to win their final game against Minnesota and Bell had one heck of a performance. Rushing the ball 35 times for 266 yards and one touchdown, Bell carried his team to victory.
This is the very same presence Bell can have at the next level. He is a physical force at 6'2", 244 pounds and has an endless desire to win. Bell will most likely be selected in the second round, unless the personnel of a certain organization fall in love with him enough to sacrifice a first-round pick. He has definitely earned himself the right to be selected in the first round, but it is likely some team will come up with a complete steal in the second round when he slips down a few spots.
Weight: 244 pounds
2012 College Stats: 350 rushing attempts for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns along with 30 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown
Current Projection: Late-First to Mid-Second Round