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Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

There might be little argument about who the best running back in the NFL was during the 2012 season, but there's plenty of room for debate after that.

The NFL is loaded with talented runners in all shapes and sizes, and as the final positional installment of our NFL 1,000 series, we take a look at the best 90 runners in the league based on the skills they showed during the 2012 season.

As with all the positions in this year's position-by-position rankings, we are scoring criteria at different weights, but they always add up to a maximum of 100. Players in this case can receive up to 25 points for power, 25 for speed, 40 for vision and 10 for receiving. Speed, by the way, isn't just a matter of a player's sprinting ability. It takes into account his ability to burst through gaps and his quickness laterally.

Our scouting team reviewed film from the 2012 season of more than 100 running backs to come up with the top 90 players. The rankings are based on the players’ skills and execution in 2012, with no credit received for career achievements or potential.

Players who played fewer than 100 snaps at running back last season didn't qualify for the rankings.

In the case of a tie, we broke it based on which back we'd rather have on our team for a game right now. 

The NFL 1,000 series will wrap up with a recap of the top 100 players overall and a look at the entire list of 1,000 players. In the meantime, you can find all the positions ranked at the B/R NFL 1,000 home page.

 

All stats from Pro Football Focus.

90-86. Powell, Moore, Thomas, Draughn, Choice

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William Powell, Arizona Cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

90. William Powell, Cardinals

55/100

Power: 17/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 16/40; Receiving: 7/10

William Powell made the most of his limited reps with the Cardinals, proving to be a very good receiver and a solid runner between the tackles and in space. He doesn’t blow you away with any singular skill, but he has the attributes of a good backup and rotational running back. He doesn’t run with the power to be a goal-line or short-yardage back, but he has the quickness to be an option on third downs.

89. Mewelde Moore, Free Agent

56/100

Power: 13/25; Speed: 17/25; Vision: 21/40; Receiving: 5/10

Mewelde Moore was brought into Indianapolis to work as a veteran presence in a young backfield and as a short-yardage asset. He did both when healthy, playing well as a third-down back and situational runner. His value was more in his blocking ability and pass-catching skills, as the Colts rarely leaned on Moore to help as a runner in a crowded backfield.

88. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins

56/100

Power: 17/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 20/40; Receiving: 4/10

Daniel Thomas has the size and strength to be a very effective power back, but limited vision and inconsistent aggressiveness has led to him being a rarely used big back. The Dolphins expected more, and frankly we did too, heading into 2012. Thomas has to learn to play meaner and with more burst with the ball in his hands. A player with his raw ability should be nearly impossible to take down in the open field.

87. Shaun Draughn, Chiefs

58/100

Power: 15/25; Speed: 14/25; Vision: 25/40; Receiving: 4/10

Shaun Draughn will be fighting for a roster spot with the Chiefs in training camp this year. Last year’s sixth-round pick, Cyrus Gray, should be healthy and ready to earn that No. 2 back spot alongside Jamaal Charles. Draughn isn’t quick within a confined area and doesn’t have the power to break many tackles. He’ll need to show his worth on special teams.

86. Tashard Choice, Bills

60/100

Power: 18/25; Speed: 16/25; Vision: 23/40; Receiving: 3/10

Tashard Choice is an above-average athlete but not a player with the speed to run away from the defense on the edge. He plays with nice vision and sees the field well when moving laterally. When he breaks through the first line of defense, he’s not elusive in the open field but has a way of falling forward to pick up yards. A powerful runner, Choice is a nice option as a backup.

85-81. Stephens-Howling, Powell, Ware, Hillis, Leonard

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Danny Ware (currently a free agent)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

 

85. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Free Agent

60/100

Power: 17/25; Speed: 19/25; Vision: 20/40; Receiving: 4/10

The Cardinals backfield was a mess in 2012, and that opened the door for the diminutive LaRod Stephens-Howling to receive a share of the starting carries. At just 5’7”,180 pounds, he doesn’t pack much punch between the tackles, but he’s quick in space and has a dynamic ability to find openings on the edge. A likely third-down back in the future, he hasn’t yet been re-signed for the 2013 season.

84. Bilal Powell, Jets

60/100

Power: 15/25; Speed: 17/25; Vision: 25/40; Receiving: 3/10

Tabbed as a potential sleeper in 2012, Bilal Powell played well when given the chance. He’s still a promising prospect in a New York backfield that’s wide open heading into the season. He’s not a major yards-after-contact player, but he shows good vision to pick up positive yards and can keep the chains moving on first and second downs. While not a receiving threat on third down, he’s a solid enough blocker to be trusted on the field.

83. Danny Ware, Free Agent

61/100

Power: 16/25; Speed: 17/25; Vision: 24/40; Receiving: 4/10

The Tampa Bay backfield became a one-man show with the addition of Doug Martin, but Danny Ware was able to complement the rookie with the all-around skill set to come in no matter the situation. While Ware lacks the speed and strength to be a No. 1 back, he’s a reliable secondary option. Ware has the size to come in on short-yardage situations and showed solid enough hands to spell Martin on third down.

82. Peyton Hillis, Free Agent

61/100

Power: 20/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 22/40; Receiving: 4/10

Peyton Hillis was supposed to go to Kansas City and become Jamaal Charles’ running mate. Instead, he showed that he can’t be that guy at this point in his career. He was even reunited with the same offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, who he had during his breakout season back in 2010 with the Cleveland Browns. Hillis was never a shifty back, but he did have the explosiveness to press through the hole with force. That part of his game was never visible last season. He looked slow and sluggish and didn’t break many tackles en route to his 309 yards rushing on 85 carries.

81. Brian Leonard, Buccaneers

62/100

Power: 20/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 22/40; Receiving: 5/10

As much of a running back as he is a fullback, Brian Leonard has the strength to push the pile and make plays between the tackles. He doesn’t show the speed to threaten the defense outside the hashes, but he shows good cutting ability to turn and run when the line opens up an inside hole for him. Leonard has a nice all-around game, and he works well as a third-down back and short-yardage runner.

80-76. Parmele, Greene, Starks, Rainey, Snelling

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Jalen Parmele (currently a free agent)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

80. Jalen Parmele, Free Agent

63/100

Power: 16/25; Speed: 20/25; Vision: 22/40; Receiving: 5/10

When Maurice Jones-Drew was out with injury, the Jaguars were forced to turn to Jalen Parmele to back up Rashad Jennings. While he didn’t steal the starting job, he played well enough to emerge as a depth runner in a needy backfield. Parmele is a big back, but he didn’t show the pop to create yards after contact. Good speed and vision allowed him to produce at a decent rate in limited reps.

79. Shonn Greene, Titans

63/100

Power: 17/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 25/40; Receiving: 6/10

Shonn Greene wasn’t able to live up to expectations in New York, but he has the skills to land on his feet with the Titans. He has the size to become a power back, but he struggled to break free from defenders who penetrated the line and hit him in the backfield. With limited speed, he won’t run away from defenders or hit the corner hard, but he has skills as a between-the-tackles runner. A better offensive line may open doors for Greene to produce.

78. James Starks, Packers

64/100

Power: 22/25; Speed: 17/25; Vision: 22/40; Receiving: 3/10

James Starks was limited to just six games in 2012 due to injury, keeping the third-year back from realizing the potential that had fans excited for his breakout season. He shows very good patience and vision in the Packers’ one-cut scheme, and he has the speed to pull away from defenders when he’s given running room. Not much of a receiver, Starks has to become more reliable on third down before he can be trusted with a larger role.

77. Chris Rainey, Free Agent

64/100

Power: 14/25; Speed: 24/25; Vision: 23/40; Receiving: 3/10

Chris Rainey is a track star playing football, and that comes with all the positives and negatives you can imagine. He has to learn to run the ball with power and keep the football tucked away. He’s electric in space, but his understanding of receiving concepts is poor for a pro-level player. Rainey is a true developmental prospect, but you can't teach speed.

76. Jason Snelling, Falcons

64/100

Power: 22/25; Speed: 12/25; Vision: 24/40; Receiving: 6/10

Jason Snelling is a hard-nosed runner who fights for every yard. He is powerfully built and can pick up tough yards between the tackles. Snelling has below-average speed and struggles getting to the edge or pulling away from defenders. He is at his best when he can make one cut and run downhill. He sees a lot of his action on throwing downs because he has solid hands out of the backfield and is adept at picking up the blitz.

75-71. Ball, Ogbonnaya, Royster, Batch, Mendenhall

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Lance Ball, Denver Broncos
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

 

75. Lance Ball, Broncos

65/100

Power: 17/25; Speed: 19/25; Vision: 25/40; Receiving: 4/10

A bowling ball at the position for the Broncos in 2012, Lance Ball didn’t pick up the tough inside yards you would expect. His running style doesn’t match his physique, and without great speed to make plays outside the tackle box, Ball found himself on the outside looking in at carries. He’ll bring value as a No. 2 back, but the Broncos coaches must get harder running from him. If the Broncos add a running back in the draft, Ball could be the odd man out.

74. Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns

65/100

Power: 17/25; Speed: 19/25; Vision: 24/40; Receiving: 5/10

Chris Ogbonnaya may not have name recognition, but when the Browns needed a backup to Trent Richardson in 2012, it was the former Texas Longhorn who produced best. He’s an average athlete for the position, but he runs hard and is a willing contributor no matter the down or distance. Ogbonnaya is a lunch-pail running back coaches will love.

73. Evan Royster, Redskins

65/100

Power: 20/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 26/40; Receiving: 4/10

Before Alfred Morris took over as the Redskins’ primary back, it looked like 2012 could be Evan Royster’s year. He’s a big, powerful back who fits well in short-yardage and goal-line situations. In a one-cut zone-blocking scheme like the one favored in Washington, he’s strong enough to make one cut and get going downhill. Still, he doesn’t have the speed to consistently pull away from the defense. If used in short-yardage situations only, he would bring value to the team in 2013.

72. Baron Batch, Steelers

66/100

Power: 22/25; Speed: 20/25; Vision: 20/40; Receiving: 4/10

The Steelers are undergoing a makeover at running back, and Baron Batch figures to contribute as the team’s goal-line and short-yardage back. He has the size to pick up tough yards between the tackles and good speed to get through the second level once he clears the line of scrimmage. Limited ability as a receiver keeps him off the field on passing downs, but Batch could be leaned on heavily in 2013 in heavy running packages.

71. Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals

66/100

Power: 20/25; Speed: 15/25; Vision: 25/40; Receiving: 6/10

Rashard Mendenhall has lost a step due to injury, but he’s still capable of carrying the load as a power back. In the right offensive system, he has the burst to threaten the defense between the tackles and pick up yards if he can get into a rhythm. Bruce Arians might just be the man to get Mendenhall back on track in Arizona.

70. Curtis Brinkley, San Diego Chargers

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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

 

Power

19/25

Curtis Brinkley should be a load to bring down in space due to his size, but until he learns to churn his legs through the run and attack the defense, he’s just a big guy with no lower-body drive.

Speed

17/25

When you look at his size, Brinkley has enough speed to pick up yards and get into space, but he’s not a threat to run away from the defense or shake tacklers in space.

Vision

24/40

A better ability to read and react off the handoff will be key for Brinkley to succeed. Too many times he tried to bully his way through the offensive line instead of waiting for an opening.

Receiving

6/10

Not a gifted receiver, Brinkley showed that he’s athletic enough to make plays when the ball is delivered with accuracy. But he’s not smooth enough in space to be much of a threat as a receiver.

Overall

66/100

A solid back with a strong first step and burst, Brinkley is a sleeper waiting for his opportunity to shine. With limited reps in 2012, he wasn’t able to build any momentum or develop a rhythm. But we saw the cutting ability, balance and speed for him to be trusted with more carries when healthy. Brinkley has the all-around game to do damage.

69. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

The strength Ryan Williams showed at Virginia Tech wasn't all there in his his first real NFL season. He appeared timid when meeting tacklers, perhaps due to lingering issues from a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011 season. A shoulder injury ended his 2012 after five games. 

Speed

21/25

While Williams was a speed player in college, injuries have slowed him down as a pro. He still shows nice burst coming out of his stance and in his first few steps, but you can see him struggle to maintain that speed or accelerate to his top level.

Vision

22/40

Williams hasn’t had a chance to learn to read an NFL offensive line and blocking scheme. He’s limited to running through designated holes at this point. While he looks for the cutback, he’s not doing so fast enough to convert those runs.

Receiving

5/10

Williams struggled when used as a receiver out of the backfield, failing to show the consistent hands needed to be trusted in the flats and on the edge. He doesn’t look the ball in fully before running.

Overall

66/100

Williams was supposed to be the guy to turn the Cardinals running game around, but injuries mean he hasn't had much of a chance. It won’t get any easier for him next season because now he will have to battle Rashard Mendenhall for the starting job.

68. Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns

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Jason Miller/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Montario Hardesty is a solidly built running back who posses adequate speed and power. He is a one-cut runner who can get to the second level but usually doesn’t get much farther than that. His power doesn’t always show up on film, and he should play with more aggression.

Speed

21/25

Hardesty has enough speed to challenge the defense and push upfield for yards. He’s not overly shifty in space, but he shows nice burst as a north-south runner.

Vision

25/40

Hardesty hasn’t learned yet how to set up his blocks and cut off the strength of his linemen. That’s a big area of improvement for him heading into 2013 and the key to his becoming more of an option behind Trent Richardson.

Receiving

4/10

Hardesty wasn’t used much in the passing game. He shows average hands when thrown to and must work on his concentration when bringing in the ball.

Overall

66/100

Largely used in a backup role this past season, Hardesty hasn’t put together the type of season Browns fans hoped for. He has good potential, but we’re still waiting for impact.

67. Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers

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Donald Miralle/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Despite having a massive frame, Jackie Battle didn’t show the power when running to impress as a short-yardage back. He's timid at the point of attack and will fail to drive his legs through the run.

Speed

22/25

Battle has good speed, especially for a player with his size. He's quick out of his stance and is able to cut and drive up the field with good acceleration. He shows enough speed to pull away from defenders.

Vision

21/40

Battle showed improved vision in reading his blocks and in picking apart the defensive line. He still has to learn to better use his power and vision in conjunction. He should be a player making hard cuts upfield and then hitting his second gear to run away from defenders.

Receiving

7/10

Battle does well in space as a receiver, showing good ability to look the ball into his hands and then turn upfield. He's a pitch-and-catch receiver, though, and won't make tough grabs in traffic.

Overall

66/100

Battle made the most of more opportunities in San Diego once injuries hit the backfield. He's a high-level athlete for the position and a solid backup option.

66. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

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Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Ronnie Hillman doesn’t show the size or strength to be a threat between the tackles or after contact. He can be driven backward by tacklers. When he does break tackles, it’s due to his speed and agility, not his strength.

Speed

20/25

Hillman has enough speed to get to the edge, but he relies mostly on his excellent quickness to create big plays. He’s shifty and elusive and can break long runs if given room to run on the edge.

Vision

25/40

He lacks the size to gain consistent positive yards between the tackles but uses his above-average vision to bounce plays outside for extra yards. He’s much better reading blockers in space and picking up yards outside the tackle box. In traffic, he can be timid and ineffective.

Receiving

5/10

Hillman looks like the type of athlete who could become a good receiver, but he wasn’t used much as a receiver in 2012. When targeted, he dropped too many passes for our tastes.

Overall

66/100

Hillman doesn’t have the overall skill to be an every-down back, but he is a nice change-of-pace guy who can make plays outside.

65. Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Power

15/25

Limited strength and leg drive keep Kevin Smith from picking up yards after contact or breaking tackles. He will shake arm tacklers but isn’t strong enough to put a hat on a tackler and keep going upfield.

Speed

17/25

Smith used to be faster, but injuries and time have limited his ability to accelerate away from the defense. He is still shifty enough in space and has a nice first step, but his speed has been reduced.

Vision

30/40

Smith is a smart player, and he reads the line well to find openings and rushing lanes. He’s able to hit the hole hard and get through the line but doesn’t show vision in space to make plays.

Receiving

4/10

A below-average receiver out of the backfield, Smith doesn’t show himself to be trustworthy when used as a target in the flats. Too many dropped passes plagued his film.

Overall

66/100

Injuries have hurt Smith’s career, but he rebounded with a nice showing on the edge for the Lions rushing attack in 2012. He has the size and speed to be a good all-around runner when healthy, but staying healthy has always been an issue for Smith.

64. Beanie Wells, Free Agent

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Beanie Wells doesn’t consistently run with the power or aggression you would expect from a player who weighs in at 230 pounds. He should be big and strong enough to break tackles and pick up yards after contact, but he lets his feet die too quickly and will get pushed back off the ball.

Speed

17/25

Wells doesn’t have the speed to get to the outside or the agility to make defenders miss. He’s a downhill runner who wins with momentum and burst.

Vision

25/40

Wells is able to find holes with above-average vision and make one cut to become a downhill runner. He doesn’t show good second-level vision to pick through traffic and gain yards down the field.

Receiving

4/10

Wells is rarely asked to go out on passing routes and will sometimes struggle in pass protection.

Overall

66/100

Wells has nice natural gifts, but his impact and production don’t match that ability. He has to become more consistent and show better all-around effort.

63. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Karl Walter/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Jonathan Dwyer is a very strong running back who shows good leg drive and pad level. His power rating shows a big man who can push the pile, but he has to run lower and make himself more of a missile when slamming into defenders. When he runs upright, defenders can get into his legs and body for tackles.

Speed

16/25

Dwyer lacks the top-end speed and doesn’t have the lateral quickness to make defenders miss. He won’t be shaking tacklers in space, but he builds momentum when running downhill.

Vision

27/40

Dwyer has better vision than given credit for and is able to hit the hole and get up to top speed very quickly. He needs to be a one-cut running back who finds his opening and attacks.

Receiving

3/10

One of the poorer pass-catchers we rated in 2012, Dwyer simply doesn’t have the athletic ability to adjust his body and bring the ball in consistently.

Overall

66/100

Dwyer has talent to be a starter, but he has to pull together his skills to make himself a better all-around player. He could be many spots higher in 2013.

62. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

A powerful back, Brandon Bolden gains most of his yards after first contact. He is effective between the tackles but is limited otherwise.

Speed

18/25

Great speed isn’t part of the package with Bolden, but he moves well enough to do things laterally and attack the line of scrimmage. He won’t get loose for big yards outside the hashes, though.

Vision

24/40

Bolden has above-average vision and is able to hit cutback lanes as soon as they open. He could learn to be more patient and let his blockers do their job before he hits the hole.

Receiving

5/10

An average receiver coming out of the backfield, Bolden doesn’t consistently look the ball in well enough to be trusted as a checkdown option.

Overall

67/100

Bolden is a young back who doesn’t have great hands or speed and struggles picking up the blitz, which is a must when you are a Patriots running back.

61. DuJuan Harris, Green Bay Packers

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Harry How/Getty Images

 

Power

21/25

DuJuan Harris is a short, compact running back who has great power for a player his size. He’s not afraid to initiate contact and run his body into defenders, and he’s shown good success coming off contact to pick up yards.

Speed

20/25

He has great quickness and the ability to plant and go. Harris doesn’t have elite speed, but he has enough speed to get to the second level and make big plays.

Vision

20/40

Finding seams in the defense is something Harris will have work on. His stretch-play vision was inconsistent in 2012.

Receiving

6/10

While not a natural receiver, Harris showed the baseline skill needed to develop into a good receiver out of the backfield. He has to learn to adjust to the ball in the air.

Overall

67/100

Harris showed a lot of promise late in the year and will see a lot more action next season.

60. Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Rashad Jennings doesn’t have the burst through the line of scrimmage or the lower-body strength to break tackles inside the box. His momentum is easily stopped at first contact, and he looks hesitant when getting to the second level of a defense.

Speed

16/25

Jennings isn’t overly agile in short areas nor does he possess the downhill speed to break through the second level of a defense. 

Vision

28/40

Jennings does possess pretty good vision in seeing blockers and anticipating holes opening up to the outside. He does a decent job of picking a hole and getting through the line of scrimmage. It’s just that he doesn’t have the burst or power to pick up many yards once he’s committed.

Receiving

7/10

If there’s one part of Jennings’ skill set that's better than the rest, it’s his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. He’s a smooth catcher with soft hands, although he still wasn’t a big option for the Jaguars with just 19 receptions.

Overall

67/100

Jennings doesn’t possess the speed or strength to be anything more than a borderline No. 2 running back option for a team.

59. Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings

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Andy King/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

A strong back with good size, Toby Gerhart can be an impact runner between the tackles. He will get behind his pads and can drive through defenders, but he must decide to play with more aggression and not look for cutbacks and openings as often. A 230-pound back should do more damage after contact than what we saw from him in 2012.

Speed

18/25

Not an elite runner in space, he has the quickness to evade tacklers in the backfield and can get to the corner. But he won’t pull away from tacklers and run into daylight. 

Vision

27/40

We saw too many times when Gerhart failed to wait on his offensive line to set up blocks on inside and outside runs, instead plowing ahead and running into the backs of his blockers. Patience and vision go hand in hand, and both are key areas where he has to improve in 2013.

Receiving

4/10

Gerhart didn’t contribute as a receiver in 2012, dropping too many passes. He has soft hands, we saw that in 2011, but he looked out of sync as a receiver in 2012.

Overall

67/100

Gerhart had to expect a bigger role in 2012 with Adrian Peterson coming off a late-season knee injury, but instead his role was reduced as Peterson came close to breaking the single-season rushing record. A good complementary back, it's not clear if Gerhart has the tools to take over if needed.

58. Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati Bengals

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Cedric Peerman possesses an excellent frame for a running back with a strong lower half. He runs well behind his pads and did a great job running through arm tackles in the limited action he saw last season for the Bengals.

Speed

20/25

Peerman possesses good speed running straight ahead but isn’t overly fluid in his lateral agility. He’s a load to bring down once he gets moving downhill, and that helped him average over seven yards per carry last season in limited action.

Vision

19/40

In order for Peerman to pick up additional carries, he needs to be better about picking his spots and getting downhill faster. There were a number of plays in which he looked hesitant behind the line of scrimmage.

Receiving

7/10

Peerman had nine targets last season and caught nine passes. Eight of those passes were against the Cleveland Browns, and three of those were on consecutive plays on the last drive of the game. He looked comfortable in space and showed soft hands on some passes that weren’t right on target.

Overall

68/100

Peerman made the most of his opportunities in 2012 and should be looking at some additional carries heading into 2013.

57. Justin Forsett, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Bob Levey/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

A good all-around athlete, Justin Forsett is able to generate power behind his runs despite a smaller frame at 5’8”, 190 pounds. He does well to initiate contact instead of waiting for the defender to hit him. From that, he is able to bounce off tacklers and pick up yardage after contact. He doesn’t offer much between the tackles with his lack of size and strength.

Speed

20/25

Good open-field speed allows Forsett to be a factor on outside runs and when making catches in the flats. He has the second gear needed to run away from linebackers and get into the secondary.

Vision

27/40

On outside runs, you will see Forsett picking through traffic and finding running lanes. He’s more limited between the tackles, but he showed a nice one-cut ability in the Texans’ zone-blocking scheme in 2012.

Receiving

5/10

Forsett wasn’t used much as a receiver out of the Texans backfield, but he didn’t impress with his catching radius or impact. A change of scenery may get him back on the track we saw in 2011, when he was a high-ranked receiving back.

Overall

68/100

Forsett was a solid No. 3 back in Houston, and he could be deserving of more time as a third-down back and change-of-pace guy. When given chances, he produced at a good clip. He could see a bigger role in Jacksonville next season.

56. Montell Owens, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Montell Owens doesn’t display the kind of lower-body strength when running through the box that you’d think when you see his size and frame. He’ll quit moving his feet at the point of contact and lose all leverage when engaged with defenders. He does show good upper-body strength when out on the edge, and he uses stiff arms to pick up additional yardage.

Speed

21/25

Owens has good speed when running north and south but doesn’t show the change-of-direction agility or burst to make plays when cutting upfield off stretch plays and tosses to the outside. He maintains good balance when running through traffic and has light enough feet to gain those extra couple of yards at the end of runs.

Vision

25/40

Owens will often cut back to the middle of the field when running stretch plays to the outside. That is different than most quicker backs, who prefer to kick everything to the outside. We saw a few different times where Owens was just one player away from breaking a big run. He would choose to lower his shoulder and try and drive through him instead of using a move.

Receiving

6/10

Owens showed pretty soft hands out of the backfield on the few plays he saw. He’s not much of a factor as a pass-catcher but was impressive as an outlet receiver and looked comfortable catching the ball out in space

Overall

68/100

Owens is a borderline No. 2 running back option who possesses a nice blend of speed and fluidity when running the ball.

55. Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Robert Turbin was one of the popular picks for midround rookie running backs who could step in and make a difference last season. He didn’t live up to that hype, but he showed some skills that could keep him on the radar heading into next season. He accelerates well through the hole and does a good job of keeping his feet moving after contact. He doesn’t possess a lot of lower-body strength but will shed a tackle here and there simply by running hard all the way through the play.

Speed

20/25

Turbin shows a good burst through the line of scrimmage and displayed good lateral agility to help get outside and down the field. He’s not a straight-line burner, but he shows enough of a short-area burst that he can explode through the second level and give linebackers problems with their angles in pursuit.

Vision

26/40

Turbin needs to be better at reading his blocks and understanding where the lanes and holes are being created. A little more patience would go a long way. He’s got the initial burst and acceleration to make big plays if he waits long enough to find the right lane to run through.

Receiving

6/10

Turbin wasn’t a big factor for the Seahawks in their passing game with Russell Wilson, but he did show an ability to make plays in space and be a reliable pass-catcher when given the opportunity. He doesn’t look extremely comfortable catching the ball on the run but should see an increased role next season.

Overall

69/100

Turbin received almost half of his total carries in the final four games of the season and averaged just under five yards per carry. He should see an increased workload next season. With better vision, he should make a big jump in these rankings next season.

54. Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

Vick Ballard possesses good strength for a running back at 5’10”, 217 pounds. He should have more power with his frame, but he runs very upright through traffic and is easily knocked off-balance at the point of contact.

Speed

16/25

Ballard doesn’t possess much speed when bouncing plays to the outside and isn’t overly fluid in changing directions. He’s often very deliberate in his cuts and doesn’t display the burst when coming out of his breaks needed to pick up large chunks of yardage on the ground. Ballard had just four rushes of 20 or more yards despite carrying the ball over 200 times in 2012.

Vision

30/40

Ballard has good instincts and vision when running between the tackles. He shows the awareness to know when defenses are overpursuing and when there’s a backside lane that’s open. But he doesn’t have the change-of-direction athleticism to turn that into a large gain. He’s inconsistent in picking his spots behind the line of scrimmage and will look timid at times.

Receiving

5/10

Ballard isn’t much of a threat in the passing game and looks very awkward trying to catch any pass that isn’t right on the money. He doesn’t have the open-field agility or lateral movements to adjust to off-target passes.

Overall

69/100

Ballard is a decent option at running back for the Colts but doesn’t possess the lateral agility or speed to be an above-average featured back in the NFL.

53. Alex Green, Green Bay Packers

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

Alex Green has a solid frame and runs behind his pads well. He’ll initiate contact with defenders and possesses the lower-body strength to push forward after initial contact. He will run through arm tackles out in space but doesn’t break a lot of tackles inside the box.

Speed

20/25

Green has solid speed and bounces plays to the outside well when a lane isn’t presented between the tackles. He’s got the speed to get outside but won’t win a footrace in the open field. He moves well laterally and has good burst out of his cuts when he’s heading upfield or making a move at the second level.

Vision

27/40

Green is a smooth athlete who moves well in space but doesn’t read blocks well or see lanes or holes developing around him. He needs to run with more patience and understand how to set up defenders and see these things in order to be a more dynamic player. 

Receiving

4/10

Green is not a player who will be anything more than an emergency option for Aaron Rodgers in the Green Bay passing attack. He doesn’t look comfortable catching the football and has trouble getting his body positioned to give Rodgers a good target.

Overall

69/100

Green has a solid frame and the physical skills to be an effective running back, but he lacks the vision to capitalize on those skills.

52. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Shane Vereen doesn’t have the frame or strength in his lower body to break tackles within the box. He does a good job of getting his pad level low between the tackles but is often at a stalemate at the point of contact. His feet will stop moving.

Speed

18/25

Vereen possesses adequate speed and can break runs into the open field, but he can get caught from behind. He’s a glider when running through the first two levels and can get to his top speed in a hurry, although it’s not of the game-breaking type. He moves well laterally and is smooth in his transitions on plays to the outside to cutting up the field.

Vision

30/40

He’ll often just pick a lane and run through it. Once he makes his decision on where he’s going, then he’s heading in that direction. Vereen could do a better job of seeing the field when getting to the second level. He possesses the athleticism to break plays to the outside and pick up chunks of yardage, but he often doesn’t see these opportunities.

Receiving

5/10

Vereen was not a factor in the passing game for the pass-happy Patriots last season. More than half of his 149 yards receiving in the regular season came on an 83-yard reception in the second meeting against the Jets. He showed in the playoffs that he could be an asset in the passing game if given the opportunity.

Overall

70/100

Vereen hasn’t made the impact that Stevan Ridley has. Brandon Bolden will also take up some of the rushing load next season in New England.

51. Felix Jones, Free Agent

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Felix Jones has enough strength to generate push behind the line of scrimmage when he comes out of his stance hard and hits the hole with force. That’s been an inconsistency of his, as he likes to bounce and look for huge openings in the line before attacking upfield.

Speed

19/25

Jones has the speed to make plays in space. Once viewed as a perfect complement to a power back, he’s now more of a third option but still potent when he can find running room. There’s enough burst here for Jones to pull away from defenses, but he will struggle to find a second gear in space at times.

Vision

28/40

Open-field vision is an asset that Jones has plenty of, but his ability to find holes behind the line of scrimmage is not quite as developed. He’ll lose patience looking for an opening and settles for a loss too often. He’ll bounce behind the line as opposed to lowering his pads and trying to pick up even a minimal gain.

Receiving

6/10

Jones was used often as a receiver in Dallas, but despite good production, we didn’t love what we saw from his receiving ability. Too many passes bounced off his shoulder pads or fell to the ground when he tried to make a move up the field before getting the ball tucked away.

Overall

70/100

Jones was drafted with big expectations, but now he’s available on the free-agent market after five seasons with the Cowboys. He’s still a nice option as a complementary back, but injuries are becoming a factor in his longevity.

50. Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Karl Walter/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

With a strong, impressive build, Isaac Redman has the athletic ability to run over defenders who get in his path. But he doesn’t generate many yards after contact. He hasn’t yet learned the art of lowering his shoulder to put a hit on the tackler and then keep his balance to continue the run down the field. 

Speed

13/25

Redman has good initial burst, but he doesn’t have the second gear needed to stretch the defense or pose a threat. When he manages to find space, he’ll be caught from behind and pulled down before he can get far up the field.

Vision

26/40

Redman plays with good vision for a younger back. He sees the field well but doesn’t always have the instincts to execute a cutback. He’s simply a north-south runner. If the hole is in front of Redman, he’ll run through it. 

Receiving

10/10

Redman’s ability as a receiver wasn’t expected when we started scouting the 2012 season. He was utilized often out of the backfield and didn’t drop a catchable pass all season. His ability to be trusted with the ball led to numerous checkdown opportunities.

Overall

71/100

A potential featured back in the Pittsburgh offense in 2013, Redman has the all-around game as a receiver and runner to move the chains and keep a defense on the field. He needs more touches to make that happen.

49. Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts

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Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

A nice-sized back with good natural ability, Donald Brown doesn’t offer much as a power runner. He tends to run upright, which limits his ability to squarely put a hit on defenders stepping into his rushing lane. He’s not a consistent threat between the tackles, but he does a good job falling forward to pick up positive yards after contact.

Speed

19/25

Solid speed allows Brown to get outside the tackle box and pick up yards in space. He shows nice burst when an opening is found and can accelerate past the first wave of tacklers. Brown doesn’t have the top-end speed to pull away from the defense and threaten the red zone.

Vision

28/40

A one-cut specialist, Brown shows good instincts to feel backside pursuit and find a rushing lane to get through. He doesn’t have the speed or agility to make cuts back away from the play and doesn’t consistently see openings off his backside when they are available. He’s a north-south runner.

Receiving

6/10

Brown has some value on third down as a pass-catcher coming out of the backfield, but injuries kept his targets down in 2012. When targeted, he did struggle at times to pull in passes that weren’t chest level.

Overall

71/100

Brown hasn’t quite lived up to his stock as a former first-rounder, but he is good as a leading man in a running back-by-committee approach. If he can stay healthy in 2013, Brown could handle the load for Indianapolis.

48. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

He doesn’t possess a big frame, but Daryl Richardson runs with authority when given the ball. He gets downhill quickly, and there isn’t much indecision shown once the ball is in his hands. His feet don’t stop after contact, but he is limited in his strength to break many tackles. 

Speed

19/25

Richardson is a shifty back whose lateral agility and change-of-direction fluidity is more impressive than his straight-line speed. He cuts well and shows impressive speed through his breaks when out in space. 

Vision

26/40

Richardson seems to get tunnel vision when running through the first level of a defense. He’ll often miss cutback lanes when running off tackle and doesn’t read his blockers as well as he needs to. 

Receiving

6/10

Richardson shows average hands out of the backfield and doesn’t look in passes when out on the edge. With his skill and lateral agility, it’s part of his game that he really should improve to help make an impact next season. 

Overall

71/100

Richardson has the physical abilities to be a player who makes a big jump in these rankings next season. With Steven Jackson gone, there’s a stage set for Richardson to see a bigger workload.

47. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals

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Bob Levey/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a good-sized back, but he doesn’t run with the power of a 215-pound player. He can move the pile between the tackles but relies heavily on a very talented offensive line to clear paths for him inside the hashes. Left to his own devices, Green-Ellis becomes an average back.

Speed

15/25

Not a speedy back in space or when coming out of the backfield, Green-Ellis will get caught from behind when he finds daylight. He does a good job combining speed and power to create broken tackles, but don’t expect him to bust off any game-changing long runs.

Vision

32/40

Running between the tackles, Green-Ellis shows good vision to read and adjust to the defense. He finds the hole quickly and is able to make a cut and get through traffic. In the open field, he’s not as quick to adjust and make cuts.

Receiving

8/10

The Bengals relied on Green-Ellis as an option in the flats, and he responded with consistent, solid hands. Just two drops on the year showed his level of ability.

Overall

72/100

Numbers can be deceiving, and Green-Ellis’ 1,000-yard season in Cincinnati isn’t as impressive as that stat used to be. He’s solid, but the team could use an upgrade early in the 2013 draft.

46. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions

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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Joique Bell has a solid frame and uses it well when running between the tackles. He has the strength to drive through contact and does a good job of getting his pad level low when running through traffic. Bell keeps his legs moving after initial contact and seems to always fall forward when being taken to the ground. 

Speed

15/25

Bell doesn’t possess enough speed to be a threat on the outside. He’s strictly an inside-the-box runner who needs to be moving north or south to be most effective. If you can stop his feet behind the line of scrimmage, then you’re in a good spot.

Vision

28/40

He’ll drop his head and drive forward when running through traffic instead of keeping his eyes up and looking to bounce plays outside. He’ll often hesitate behind the line of scrimmage with a couple of false steps that lead to short gains. 

Receiving

7/10

Bell shows good hands for a player his size and catches balls out away from his body. He demonstrates an ability to get out in space. He’s a weapon out of the backfield and a tough runner for defensive backs to bring down in the open field. 

Overall

72/100

Bell is a good complementary back for the Lions. He uses his solid frame well when running through traffic and is a reliable receiver out of the backfield. 

45. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Mikel Leshoure was a challenging grade for us when it came to rushing power. On one hand, he’s big, strong and naturally should be able to run through tacklers. His athletic ability indicates a power back. Game film, though, showed a big back who didn’t want to initiate contact or lower his shoulder to get through the defense. He didn’t pick up yards after contact, a staple for power backs.

Speed

16/25

Coming off injury meant Leshoure needed time to shake off the rust, but he topped 100 yards in his first game of the season and showed nice first-step quickness. His burst is powerful, but his top-end speed isn’t much higher than his initial steps. Leshoure has to either find a second gear or run much stronger downhill.

Vision

34/40

A talented one-cut back, Leshoure has natural instincts to feel the defense and adjust his directions and angles to get into space. He had a knack for finding space to pick up yards and didn’t let himself be pushed back for negative carries.

Receiving

6/10

The Lions weren’t shy about throwing to Leshoure out of the backfield, and he produced nicely. Our concerns came from dropped passes and struggles to adjust in the flats to pull in passes that just missed his frame. He’ll have to improve those alligator arms in 2013.

Overall

72/100

Leshoure was finally able to produce after he lost his rookie season to injury and started the 2012 season out off the field. Now that he’s shown his stuff, expect more production from the Lions’ likely No. 2 back.

44. Cedric Benson, Free Agent

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Cedric Benson is a throwback to the days before speed backs became the norm as starting running backs. He’s a solidly built player with the size and strength to run over defenders. He uses a nice stiff arm to keep defenders off his body and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and drive defenders off the ball. He can get high in his running technique at times, which limits his impact when meeting a defender.

Speed

15/25

Benson doesn’t show the speed to run away from the defense or break the ankles of defenders with a pretty open-field move. But he has nice burst out of his stance in the backfield and can generate the momentum needed to slash through traffic.

Vision

32/40

Benson does a good job picking and choosing his spots. He reads the offensive line well and is a prototypical one-cut running back. If the line gets push, he’ll follow its lead and can pick up yards when given running room.

Receiving

5/10

A limited receiver throughout his NFL career, Benson actually had one of his better seasons as a pass-catcher in Green Bay. With the soft touch of Aaron Rodgers throwing his way, he was able to improve his catching ability and contribute as a receiver.

Overall

72/100

Benson was playing quality football before losing the season to injury, but when he was on the field, we saw his trademark patience and power from the backfield.

43. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Power

21/25

A bowling-ball type of running back, Mark Ingram lives between the tackles. He has the low center of gravity to initiate contact with tacklers and good balance to continue the run after contact. He’s strong enough to break arm tackles and can run through defenders who don’t commit fully to the tackle.

Speed

18/25

Ingram isn’t the type of back to juke a defender in space and race away for big yards, but he has good burst coming out of the backfield and gets to top speed in a hurry. His speed might not be elite, but it’s good enough to get him past the second level of the defense when there’s an opening.

Vision

31/40

The major reason for Ingram’s spark in 2012 was his increased vision and awareness with the ball in his hands. He did a better job letting his blockers get set up before he tried slamming through the line. We did still see this in his film, but much less than in his 2011 set.

Receiving

4/10

A limited receiver, this isn’t part of Ingram’s game. He’s not the type of player you want to rely on in the flats or when releasing off play-action into a route.

Overall

74/100

Ingram showed some of the production to equal the promise that made him a first-round pick. While he’s not an elite athlete at the position, he brings value as a sledgehammer in the backfield

42. Ronnie Brown, San Diego Chargers

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Age and injuries have limited Ronnie Brown’s impact when meeting a tackler in the hole. He no longer has the strength to bull over defenders and keep his balance to pick up yards after putting the tackler on the turf.

Speed

19/25

Brown still shows signs of being able to pull away from defenders, but he’s no longer the electric runner that we saw back at Auburn or even in Miami with the Dolphins. In his first few steps, you see that old speed and burst, but he’s not able to maintain it to run away from the defense.

Vision

28/40

Seeing the field from the running back position means finding holes to run through when moving laterally and vertically. On stretch plays to the sideline, Brown wasn’t as efficient in finding space and getting his shoulders turned to pick up yards. He’s a much better north-south runner.

Receiving

10/10

Brown was thrown at 56 times in 2012 and didn’t drop a single pass. Not all of those attempts resulted in completions, but he did convert 49 of those attempts into catches.

Overall

74/100

A solid veteran back, Brown still has value as a complementary runner and receiver. His days of being the featured back are done, but he can fill in and produce.

41. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Jacquizz Rodgers is one of the smallest running backs in the league, but he can still pack a wallop on unsuspecting defenders. He runs extremely hard, and his compact build makes it seem as if defenders are trying to tackle a bowling ball. His legs are always churning, and he always tries to get that extra yard. Although he tries to run with power, his small stature is no match for bigger defenders who are expecting the contact.

Speed

20/25

While he doesn’t have top-end straight-line speed, he has elite quickness and one of the best jump cuts in the game. He is extremely shifty and can make defenders look silly with his elusiveness. He also has great burst and can hit the hole at near top speed.

Vision

30/40

Rodgers has good vision and excels at finding cutback lanes. He will hit the hole too fast at times before the play has a chance to develop, but he can be dangerous if he gets to the second level.

Receiving

8/10

A mismatch for most defenders, Rodgers combines great hands with his agility and quickness. Most of his routes are either screen passes or dump-offs over the middle, where he is able to make plays with his athleticism.

Overall

74/100

Rodgers was a great change-of-pace option for the Falcons this past season, and he was able to make big plays in the running and passing game. He lacks the size to be an every-down back, but he should be able to mesh well with Steven Jackson next year in the Falcons backfield.

40. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

A true power back, Michael Bush is a load for defenders to handle when he gets his massive frame moving downhill. At 245 pounds, he’s able to run over linebackers and effectively get to the second and third level of the defense with power. 

Speed

15/25

Bush doesn’t have the speed of the elite NFL running backs, but he’s fast enough to make plays, especially when combined with his power and strength. He’s not a shifty open-field runner, but his burst when coming out of his stance helps make up it.

Vision

34/40

Bush does a great job finding holes as a power back. He can see the defense and is able to crash through the line and leg drive to move the pile. His vision moving laterally is good, as he shows the talent to be a one-cut back in a stretch scheme.

Receiving

5/10

The former college football quarterback turned power back is a great athlete, but he’s not a great receiver. His lack of quickness in space makes Bush a limited route-runner, while his lack of flexibility makes him a poor receiver in space when asked to adjust to the ball.

Overall

74/100

Injuries kept Bush from becoming the impact the Bears hoped he could become as Matt Forte’s counterpart, but we’ll see that power-running addition to the offense in 2012.

39. LaMichael James, San Francisco 49ers

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Standing 5’8”, 195 pounds, LaMichael James doesn’t have the physical tools to be a power back. He doesn’t possess the strong lower body needed to run over tacklers or push the pile as a runner between the hashes, but he has a mean stiff arm and is able to bounce off tacklers to pick up yards after contact.

Speed

25/25

James is one of the NFL’s fastest running backs. When given running room on the outside, he’s able to stretch the field and can run away from defensive backs to pick up big yards. James is a player who defenders must bottle up and force back to the middle of the field. He has the elusiveness to shake defenders when approached in space and can sprint away once he creates an opening.

Vision

28/40

In the open field, James has a rare ability to feel pressure and find space. He’s very shifty and is able to spot openings on the fly. He’ll need to become better at running between the tackles and reading his blockers in that area, but he’s already shown to be a top-tier runner in space.

Receiving

6/10

A talented receiver out of the backfield at Oregon, James needs work in acclimating to the NFL. His body control has to catch up to the speed of NFL defenses, as does his hand strength.

Overall

75/100

James was dormant for much of the season. Once he hit the field, he did so with impressive speed and outside rushing ability.

38. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Prototypical size for a running back allows Knowshon Moreno to move the chains when defenses stack the box against him, but it isn’t great enough to generate broken tackles. He’s not the type of back who wears down a defense over time with his strength between the tackles.

Speed

17/25

Moreno’s speed hasn’t held up well over time, but he showed some of the burst that made him a first-round pick in 2009 last season. He’s quick to turn his shoulders and get upfield, and he has enough acceleration to get through the first level of the defense. But he isn’t fast enough to make plays down the field.

Vision

32/40

Perhaps the most improved area of Moreno’s game in 2012 was his vision. In the Broncos offense, he was able to run with good protection behind the line and then pick his spot. Once he found an opening, he was able to make a hard cut upfield and then simply run until tackled. That style of simplified decision-making is what he needs to succeed.

Receiving

9/10

It may have something to do with Peyton Manning at quarterback, but Moreno had his best season as a receiver in 2012. He showed good vision and soft hands when coming across the middle and out of the backfield.

Overall

75/100

Moreno wasn’t supposed to have a big year in Denver, but he played well when given a chance. That could mean the job as the team’s No. 1 back in 2013.

37. Mike Goodson, New York Jets

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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Mike Goodson shows good power and drive in his legs when running inside the box. He’s not deterred by first contact, but his frame won’t allow him to consistently break tackles when running between the tackles. He runs hard at the second level and with enough speed that a defender better be committed to making a tackle. 

Speed

19/25

Goodson is a glider when running out in space and once getting to the second level of a defense. He plants well and really drives out of those breaks. He has the athletic fluidity to make moves in the open field without slowing his momentum. 

Vision

30/40

Goodson will often try and cut back on stretch plays whether it’s open or not. He’s not great on draws in which there are defenders rushing up the sides and taking away his initial movements, which are normally laterally. He shows much better vision after getting past the line of scrimmage. 

Receiving

6/10

Goodson wasn’t a huge factor in the passing game for the Raiders last season, but he caught every intended target and showed that he could make big plays once the ball was in his hands. 

Overall

75/100

Goodson has a nice skill set that will be valuable to the New York Jets if he’s able to stay healthy.

36. Michael Turner, Free Agent

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Michael Turner showed last season that he’s lost a few steps. The 31-year-old put out his lowest yards-per-carry average of his career (3.6) and didn’t show the same power or burst through the line of scrimmage that he had in years past. Turner still possesses a very strong lower half that allows him to easily break arm tackles. He isn’t quick enough to get away from defenders joining in on the tackles once his momentum has slowed. 

Speed

18/25

Turner was never known as a speed back, but he displayed last season that he just doesn’t have the same initial burst through a hole that he did early in his time in Atlanta. The biggest difference is in his ability to move laterally through traffic. He doesn’t plant and cut as quickly, and holes and lanes close up on him quickly. 

Vision

35/40

The athleticism may be fading, but the vision is still there. He’s a savvy running back who knows how to read blocks and the flow of defenders pursuing him. He doesn’t always show the burst to get through the lane when it’s presented, but he’s normally headed in the right place. 

Receiving

5/10

Turner doesn’t possess the lateral agility or athletic fluidity to be much of a factor in the passing game. He never was a big factor throughout his career catching the ball.

Overall

75/100

Turner still has the vision and ability to play a role for someone next season, but he’s taken a pounding over his career. That may have caught up with him. 

35. Ahmad Bradshaw, Free Agent

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Elsa/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Ahmad Bradshaw doesn’t have the size or strength of a power back, and his film backs that up. He lacks the leg drive to push through the offensive line and drive the pile. In space, we don’t see him breaking tackles with power or picking up yards after contact on a consistent basis.

Speed

17/25

Bradshaw doesn’t have great speed, but he plays with good quickness and nice burst. What’s missing is a second gear that lets him press the defense and create big plays in space. He’s a chain-mover, not a sprinter.

Vision

30/40

Good vision behind the line of scrimmage gets Bradshaw going, and he does a good job of picking his spots and finding openings in the line. He’s not great at recognizing cutbacks or finding seams when he’s moving laterally. Bradshaw needs a designated hole to run through.

Receiving

9/10

One of the better possession receivers coming out of the backfield, Bradshaw isn’t an electric, big-play receiver, but he brings the ball in consistently and will limit drops and missed opportunities.

Overall

76/100

Bradshaw cracked 1,000 yards in 2012, but he didn’t show enough promise for the Giants to hang on to him long term. He has value as a between-the-tackles back.

34. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Lamar Miller runs hard between the tackles and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and drive forward through contact. He won’t be mistaken for a bruiser, but he does well with his pad level and at the point of contact. He’s not a guy who will pick up a lot of yards after contact, but he runs hard and makes the defender earn it. 

Speed

24/25

Miller has excellent speed and agility when changing direction. He plants and drives through his cuts well and possesses excellent burst through the hole. He gets to top speed in a hurry and shows a good understanding of when to plant and drive up the field. 

Vision

30/40

Miller shows good vision when getting to the second level and has the quickness and lateral agility to get through the lanes that are presented. He’ll dance a little behind the line of scrimmage at times. That leads to some negative runs. 

Receiving

5/10

Despite Milller’s quickness and open-field agility, he’s not much of a factor in the passing game. Securing the ball has been an issue in the past, and you could expect Miller to have a much bigger role next season now that Reggie Bush has moved on to Detroit. 

Overall

76/100

Miller was one of my highest-ranked running backs in the 2012 NFL draft class, but injury question marks pushed him down the board. When given chances in his first season, he impressed. He will be counted on for a big role in 2013.

33. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

Power

14/25

A small player without the bulk to move the pile, Danny Woodhead lacks the strength needed to get push on the line. When he meets a tackler in the hole or in space, he can get low and put a hit on the defender to pick up positive yards. 

Speed

21/25

Woodhead doesn’t have sprinter speed, but he has a nice combination of burst and quickness to make plays in space and elude tacklers. You won’t see him hit a second gear and accelerate away from would-be tacklers.

Vision

33/40

Watching Woodhead with the ball in his hands, you see a versatile player with the moves and vision to create yardage. He’s shifty in space, but his best asset is his ability to read openings and follow his blockers to daylight.

Receiving

9/10

Woodhead is a talented receiver on swing routes and when coming out of the backfield. He shows nice concentration to look the ball in, but he can put the ball on the ground in traffic. He is flexed out into the slot often and runs high-level routes for a back, but dropped passes keep him from a perfect score.

Overall

77/100

Woodhead could fit in a unique category as a utility player. Not a true running back but not quite a wide receiver, he’s a good fit as a third-down back in a spread-out offense.

32. Andre Brown, New York Giants

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images

 

Power

21/25

Andre Brown has the size and strength to be a power back and tough runner between the tackles. When he’s able to find an opening in the line, he’ll bust his way through and can initiate contact with tacklers. His balance after contact is excellent, allowing him to pick up yards even after a defender has attempted a tackle.

Speed

21/25

At 225 pounds, it’s surprising to see Brown running as well as he does. His first-step quickness allows him to beat defenders to the hole. He’s fast enough to eat up yards when he finds space, and he can run away from tacklers. 

Vision

28/40

A key area for Brown to improve on is his vision pre- and post-snap. He has to be more aware to which rushing lanes are open and which are closing and do a better job reading the blocks of his linemen down the field. He’s solid between the tackles, but he has to become a better all-around rusher.

Receiving

7/10

Brown wasn’t asked to be a receiver in the Giants offense, but he did well with limited touches. He has consistent hands to pull in the ball when it is thrown his way, and he only dropped one pass in 12 attempts. 

Overall

77/100

Brown wasn’t expected to become the Giants’ No. 2 running back in 2012, but he did thanks to an impressive display of power, speed and vision. He’ll challenge David Wilson for the starting job heading into 2013.

31. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

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Jeff Gross/Getty Images

 

Power

19/25

Ryan Mathews has the size to be an effective power back. The key is his health, and that’s been a factor. When Mathews is running at full speed, he has the strength to break tackles and pick up yards after contact.

Speed

23/25

Mathews has really nice speed in the open field. His burst is upper level, and when looking at the acceleration he shows when going from a stand-still position to top speed, you have to like what you see. 

Vision

30/40

Mathews has a natural ability to find running lanes and then use his ability to exploit the space given. He’s quick enough to explode through openings in front of him, but he must do a better job recognizing cutback lanes. Learning patience will be a big help to his ability to break through the line.

Receiving

6/10

A solid receiver out of the backfield, Mathews could have a higher grade if not for dropped passes and a limited catch radius when asked to adjust his body to bring in the ball.

Overall

78/100

If only Mathews could stay healthy. The player we ranked No. 12 overall after the 2011 season, he falls down the board after a frustrating season.

30. Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

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Elsa/Getty Images

 

Power

23/25

The rookie from Kansas State quickly made himself known to NFL defenders with his physical, angry style of running. Bryce Brown left it all on the field when he ran the ball, but unfortunately that meant he was often leaving the actual football on the field. Fumbles were a problem for him throughout the year. As powerful as he ran and as impressive as that was, it doesn’t matter if the end result is a fumble.

Speed

23/25

Speed can be a vague term, but for Brown it’s a compilation of his burst, acceleration and ability to maintain his speed. He does them all well. He’s fast enough to run away from the defense and is a true threat to go for six points every time he touches the ball. 

Vision

27/40

Brown was a bit too impatient in his first season, but he improved greatly as the year went on. Learning to read the line play and find cutback lanes is a key for his second season. Too often, we saw him try to slam his way through the line instead of waiting for a seam to open up.

Receiving

5/10

The Eagles did not throw to Brown often until later in the year, and that was by design. He didn’t show to be a reliable receiver, with three drops in 18 passes thrown his way.

Overall

78/100

Brown has raw talent that’s easy to spot, but his struggles to hold on to the ball make it tough to trust him as a featured back.

29. David Wilson, New York Giants

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Elsa/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

David Wilson doesn’t have natural power coming out of the backfield, but he can shake defenders off his frame when they come at him. He was ignored in the Giants backfield for much of the year, so we weren’t able to see him after wearing down a defense. But late in the year, we saw Wilson start to become a more powerful runner. 

Speed

22/25

A true speed back, Wilson has electric playmaking ability when he has the ball in space. As both a runner and a receiver, he showed excellent speed when moving up the sideline. Give Wilson space, and he’ll terrorize the defense. This is what he does best.

Vision

31/40

Cutback ability and the vision to find running room in space show up for Wilson when looking at his vision. He’s quick to find those seams and is athletic enough to adjust on the fly to move in and out of traffic. If anything, he gets too excited at times and tries to force runs when he should hold back and wait for the play to develop.

Receiving

7/10

When used as a receiver, Wilson responded and produced, but those opportunities were limited after he put himself in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. We saw a good athlete with some skills, but the limited touches make it tough to extrapolate what Wilson can do long term.

Overall

78/100

A fumble nearly ended Wilson’s rookie season in Week 1 when he put the ball on the turf on his second carry, but he didn’t drop the ball again on a rushing down all season. 

28. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Pierre Thomas doesn’t have all-star metrics, but he plays hard and is willing to put his pads on defenders. That results in him breaking tackles and throwing off defenders when met in the hole. Look at Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers and the seven tackles he either broke or shook in space as evidence of what Thomas can do with the ball in his hands.

Speed

15/25

Speed isn’t part of Thomas’ game, and he doesn’t show that raw sprinter skill set of a Jamaal Charles. Instead, he’s a patient and powerful back with good quickness and enough of a first step to drive the ball up field.

Vision

34/40

Reading the offensive line and knowing where your openings will be is a key attribute of an elite running back. Thomas may not be at the upper tier yet, but he does exhibit high-level ability to find openings on the move. He does a great job working down the line and attacking when he sees a crease. It’s rare to see Thomas waste a carry by slamming into the line prematurely.

Receiving

8/10

A very good receiver when thrown to, Thomas is removed for the more versatile Darren Sproles when the Saints plan to throw to the running back. He was still good for 39 catches and zero drops in 2012.

Overall

79/100

A four-deep backfield in New Orleans prevents Thomas from having the type of production he might in a single-back offense, but it’s evident on film that he’s a talented, capable back.

27. Ben Tate, Houston Texans

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Scott Halleran/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Ben Tate has the size, strength and leg drive to push through tacklers and punish the defense. He has the burst to quickly get through the line and isn’t afraid to pop tacklers when they approach. 

Speed

24/25

Tate has enough speed to get loose and make big plays from the backfield. He only had a long run of 25 yards on the year, but he’s fast enough to shift into second gear and take off. If used on more outside runs, Tate could show off more of his speed.

Vision

29/40

Tate wasn’t used as much as he could have been in 2012, but he was able to show that his vision and ability to find openings in space has improved. He’s taking a page from Arian Foster’s playbook and slow-playing outside runs by letting his offensive line get off the ball and set up before he crashes through the line. While he’s not quite to Foster’s level, it is clear that Tate is improving.

Receiving

6/10

Tate wasn’t a big option for the Texans in the passing game, but he displays soft hands when catching balls out in space when given the opportunity.

Overall

79/100

Tate has the skill to be a starter, but that opportunity likely won’t come in Houston. He’s doing the best to make the most of his carries and is one of the game’s best backup runners.

26. Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Power

23/25

Watching Bernard Pierce down the stretch in 2012, it was easy to see that the rookie running back has the power to shed defenders and pick up yards after contact. He runs with a mean streak and will attack tacklers in the hole. We saw Pierce creating fear in defenders as they became aware of his powerful running style. 

Speed

20/25

A sub-4.5 runner when he tested before the 2012 NFL draft, Pierce showed that speed plus more on the field. He’s game fast, moving well in his pads and pulling away from defenders when chased. His acceleration with the ball in his hands shows that he’s faster than was advertised.

Vision

30/40

At the end of the playoffs, Pierce was playing like a starting running back, showing the vision and patience needed to pick his spots and gain big yards. He’s smart enough to let his linemen establish their blocks, and he is powerful and fast enough to explode through those holes once created.

Receiving

6/10

Pierce didn’t see reps as a receiver often, not with Ray Rice on the same team. This will be a key area for him to work on in the offseason. Learning to turn his body and look the ball in will instantly make Pierce a more dependable receiver.

Overall

79/100

Pierce won’t be a No. 2 running back for long, not after the way he quickly threw off NFL defenders and ran his way into a major role in the Ravens’ postseason success.

25. Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Kendall Hunter has learned well from Frank Gore. He hits the hole with all of his 200 pounds and does so in a way that opens up rushing lanes. You wouldn’t know that Hunter is a smaller back by watching him run, as he’s constantly falling forward to pick up yards after contact. He may be small, but he is stout and packs a punch when making contact in the hole.

Speed

19/25

Hunter is more quick than fast, but we saw nice acceleration when he found openings and very good burst out of his stance in the backfield. He goes from zero to full speed in a hurry and can use that to run away from the defense in space.

Vision

31/40

A hard-nosed runner between the tackles, Hunter has to learn to be more patient and let his blocks get set up before he charges into the hole. He’s strong enough to still pick up positive yardage, but we would see bigger plays and longer runs from Hunter if he would pause and let things develop in front of him.

Receiving

7/10

A talented receiver dating back to his days at Oklahoma State, Hunter showed again in 2012 that he can be trusted as a releasing receiver out of the backfield on third downs. He has a limited catching radius due to shorter arms, but he looks the ball in well when thrown to.

Overall

79/100

Hunter was emerging as a very valuable No. 2 back in San Francisco before injury ended his season. He’s a Frank Gore lite, though, and has the all-around game to see plenty of carries in 2013.

24. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

 

Power

21/25

A stout runner, DeAngelo Williams can pick up yards after contact. What he does best is coming off tackle and in space. He can get low behind his pads and pop defenders, but he’s inconsistent here and can just as easily be tackled by one defender in space.

Speed

21/25

Williams can be fast in space, but that speed doesn’t result in him creating missed tackles. He’s not shifty on the edge but is more of a straight-line runner who gets behind his pads and goes full speed until brought down.

Vision

32/40

Williams is able to find openings and make cutbacks while moving at full speed. That’s a quality you want in an outside runner. He doesn’t see the field as well on inside runs and can be too impatient in letting things set up in front of him.

Receiving

6/10

Williams is a good athlete, but he's not a very good receiver. The ball comes in too hot for him to handle on checkdowns, and he’s too quick to turn up field and leave the ball behind him.

Overall

80/100

Forget for a moment how much money Williams makes and simply look at his ability. He’s a fast, dynamic runner and a quality starter for the Panthers.

23. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints

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Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

 

Power

15/25

Darren Sproles is not known for his power and ability to break tackles. At least not in the sense that he’ll lower his shoulder and drive through a defender. But he’ll break tackles simply by juking the defender out of their shoes when they plan to meet in the hole. Sproles does possess a strong lower half, and it’s that strength that gives him the power to make cuts in the open field.

Speed

20/25

Sproles is much more quick than fast. He might not win a foot race on straight-line speed, but he will change directions and cut as well as anyone in the league. He needs the ball in space to be most effective. When he gets it, he’s a threat to score each and every time.

Vision

35/40

Sproles’ vision is on display when he’s catching passes out of the backfield. He caught 75 passes out of the backfield last season to just 48 rushing attempts. He’s hard to find behind the line of scrimmage due to his 5'6" height, but he still managed over five yards per carry last season.

Receiving

10/10

Sproles is a household name around the NFL because of his ability to make plays in the passing game. He’s the perfect pairing for that offense. He sets up plays well and has a knack for finding space to sit.

Overall

80/100

Sproles is one of the most exciting players to watch when he gets his hands on the ball in space. He’s a role player in the sense that his size and frame will keep him from being an every-down back, but he has a definite purpose.

22. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots

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Elsa/Getty Images

 

Power

23/25

Stevan Ridley is a big, powerful back with the size and strength to push through tacklers at the line of scrimmage. He gets going with nice momentum, fueled by a powerful first step. From there, he’s bouncing off tacklers and picking up yards after contact with nice vision and impressive toughness.

Speed

16/25

While not a speed back, Ridley is fast enough to pick up longer runs when given space to operate. He was fast enough to get to the corner and run outside, but his true strength is between the tackles. His burst is more impressive than his speed.

Vision

35/40

Finding running lanes in the middle of the offensive line was Ridley’s game in 2012. He has good vision on the move and could find cutback lanes or hit his second gear and pile ahead for north-south yards. He doesn’t show high-level open-field vision or the ability to cut in space, but when he has to make that first read behind the line of scrimmage, Ridley is solid.

Receiving

6/10

Ridley was often replaced in passing situations, but when he was on the field as a receiver, the Patriots rarely went his way. Two drops on the year in 13 attempts isn’t what you want from a receiving back.

Overall

80/100

Ridley showed impressive production and toughness during the 2012 season, emerging as one of the game’s better young running backs.

21. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills

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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

Fred Jackson displays good pad level when running through the first level of defenders and is physical with tacklers at the point of contact. He uses his lower half well to create power when running inside the box by maintaining proper leverage and hip level to drive forward.

Speed

18/25

Jackson possesses adequate speed when getting out on the edge and breaking plays into the open field. He’s fluid in his lateral agility and uses that to pick up extra yardage when making moves at the second level. He displays a great ability to jump-cut and redirect to the backside of a play fairly quickly when he sees the defense flowing hard his way.

Vision

34/40

Jackson does a good job of seeing holes and lanes once he gets past the line of scrimmage. He’ll sometimes hesitate too much behind the line of scrimmage and dance before settling on a lane and driving through it.

Receiving

9/10

Jackson displays excellent hands and the athletic fluidity in space to be a great option out of the backfield in the passing game. He will even line up at wide receiver and run slants and drags across the field.

Overall

81/100

Jackson is a solid running back inside the tackles. His ability to catch passes and be used in the passing game only adds to his value.

20. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

Willis McGahee didn’t display the same power last season that he did earlier in his career. He still possesses enough upper-body strength to run through arm tackles, but his momentum running downhill is easily stopped. He becomes a nonfactor after any significant contact.

Speed

20/25

McGahee still possesses enough speed to get out on the edge and make plays down the field. Despite playing in only 10 games last season, McGahee still managed 731 yards on 167 carries for a 4.4 yards-per-carry average. He moves well laterally at the second level and possesses enough burst to get through lanes and into the open.

Vision

36/40

McGahee knows how to read and react to blockers. He displays good patience at the line of scrimmage and does a good job of "getting skinny" when maneuvering through the first line of defenders.

Receiving

8/10

McGahee shows good hands out on the edge and looks the ball in all the way. He is a solid checkdown option for Peyton Manning. He sets up screens well and shows enough lateral agility to maintain his balance when running routes.

Overall

81/100

McGahee, 31, is on the tail end of a successful career.

19. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Jonathan Stewart runs with power between the tackles and gets his pads low when running through traffic. He’ll get beneath defenders and bounce off them to pick up additional yardage. He’s a tough runner to bring down if you don’t get below his pads, wrap him up and drive through.

Speed

20/25

Stewart possesses enough speed to bounce plays to the outside and get down the field. He’s a smooth runner in the open field and is elusive with his ability to cut and change directions without slowing his momentum. He shows good burst through traffic and can get to the open field quickly when a lane is presented in front of him.

Vision

33/40

Stewart has a knack for knowing when the backside of a play is open. He shows great vision when reading blocks and recognizing the flow of defenders. He sees lanes open on a stretch play. He will get lost in traffic at times and plow forward after first contact without recognizing open field around him.

Receiving

6/10

Stewart shows average hands out of the backfield but is elusive in space once he gets his hands on the ball.

Overall

81/100

Stewart is a fluid athlete when running the ball through the second level and can change directions in space with ease. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he glides within the confines of where the defense is playing.

18. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons

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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Steven Jackson runs with good pad level and has the lower-body strength to drive through the pile after initial contact. He’s a north-south runner who needs to be going downhill to be effective. He runs through arm tackles and keeps driving his feet through traffic. He is always looking to grab an additional yard or two at the end of his runs.

Speed

16/25

Jackson is not a burner. Once he sees a lane or hole opening up, he’s planting his outside foot and driving through that hole. He has trouble making plays if his momentum is stopped behind the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t possess the burst to get back to full speed and pick up chunks of yardage. If you get his feet to stop or get him moving laterally, then you’ve already won. He’s light on his feet, but we wouldn’t consider his agility a big part of his game.

Vision

36/40

Jackson possesses excellent vision when reading blocks and recognizing lanes. He doesn’t have the burst to get through some of the lanes he sees, and he regularly looks like he’s about to break into the open field before being brought down by a tackler. He sees cutback lanes open on stretch plays and reads blocks at the second level well when running between the tackles.

Receiving

7/10

Jackson has always been a reliable pass-catcher. He looks more comfortable letting the pass get to his body than he does catching it out front with his hands.

Overall

81/100

Jackson is a powerful runner who can be a workhorse for the Falcons if they need him to be. He’s got eight straight 1,000-yard seasons and averaged over four yards per carry last season.

17. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys

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Tom Pennington/Getty Images

 

Power

19/25

DeMarco Murray uses power and leverage when running between the tackles. He shows a great ability to keep his feet moving inside the box and to never stop churning forward. He’s got a slender build for a running back but does well with his pad level at the point of contact.

Speed

23/25

Murray possesses great downhill speed and above-average lateral agility. He shows an understanding of when to accelerate through the hole and how to get his body properly positioned to get through the lane to the open field. He’s got the speed to beat defensive backs who take improper angles when he bounces plays to the outside.

Vision

32/40

Murray will cut back often when running a stretch play to the outside, whether it’s there or not. He displays an ability to slice through the backside pursuit on a stretch play and break it into the open field. He’ll sometimes lose track of defensive backs in front of his initial blocks and miss some lanes that are open to either side of his blocker.

Receiving

8/10

Murray shows good hands in the open field as an outlet for Tony Romo. He catches the ball out away from his body and secures it nicely. He’ll make the difficult catches out in the flat on the run and shows soft hands to bring in some inaccurate throws.

Overall

82/100

Murray has all of the physical ability to make a jump in these rankings next season, but he’ll need to remain healthy after missing nine games over the past two seasons because of injury.

16. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions

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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

Power

17/25

If Reggie Bush is breaking a tackle, it has more to do with his elusiveness and agility than it does with his power. He does show power in his legs by driving the pile in traffic, but he won’t break any tackles on anything more than a weak arm tackle.

Speed

23/25

Bush has elite speed in the open field. Even more impressive than his straight-line speed is his lateral agility. He moves side to side as well as he does getting downhill. He uses that elusiveness to get through lanes without slowing down and gliding through the line of scrimmage and traffic to bounce plays to the outside.

Vision

35/40

Bush showed again last season that he’s got the vision running between the tackles to be more than a situational offensive weapon. He set a career high last season with 227 rushing attempts. He does tend to always be looking for the home-run play by bouncing to the outside when another two or three yards is available by lowering his shoulders and driving forward.

Receiving

7/10

Bush has been less involved in the passing game since moving to Miami from New Orleans, but he’s still a threat every down. His athleticism in space exceeds his ability to catch the ball, but his ability after the catch makes him a receiving threat.

Overall

82/100

Bush has shown that he can take the load as an every-down back. He’s got game-breaking speed but needs to show more power between the tackles and better vision to make that jump into the elite tier of running backs.

15. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

 

Power

19/25

Darren McFadden has a powerful upper body but has a tendency to run a bit high. He is easily taken down by defenders when they can get underneath him. Most of the tackles he’s able to break are when defenders attempt to arm tackle him up around the shoulders. When he does get his pads down, he’s able to drive defenders back.

Speed

23/25

McFadden still has that speed that makes him a threat to score whenever he’s got the ball in his hands. He breaks well to the open field and turns it on once he gets to the second level. For as athletic and fast as McFadden is running north and south, it doesn’t show when he’s moving laterally. He doesn’t have that side-to-side agility that many running backs use to get their feet set to explode through a hole.

Vision

33/40

McFadden finds lanes between the tackles and will find the right hole, but it often looks like he’s a count late getting to his spot. He finds cutback lanes and will press the hole when nothing has opened for him. He’ll bounce things outside a bit too often when the lanes aren’t there.

Receiving

7/10

After the first game of the 2012 season against San Diego, it seemed like McFadden was going to break any running back receiving record in the books. He was targeted 18 times by Carson Palmer and finished with 13 catches for 86 yards. He catches the ball well out in space but doesn’t possess the lateral agility to create space between himself and a defender in man coverage.

Overall

82/100

McFadden won’t ever live up to the hype created by his No. 4 draft position, and he’s missed 23 games in his five-year career due to injury. Still, he's a force when healthy.

14. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Maurice Jones-Drew uses his lack of height well in that most of his damage running the ball occurs between the tackles where he can hide from defenders. He’ll routinely bounce and spin off defenders and gain an extra yard or two before he’s brought to the ground. Jones-Drew doesn’t break many tackles. He’s got a stout lower half and uses those legs well in keeping his balance in maneuvering through traffic.

Speed

21/25

Jones-Drew is very quick to the open field when a lane is open. He’ll hide behind the line of scrimmage and shows a good burst to get past the second level of defenders. He’ll have to show that same speed after spending most of the 2012 season banged up before a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot ended his season after playing in six games.

Vision

38/40

Jones-Drew displays fantastic vision in seeing lanes and holes open in front of him. He shows great balance and ability to change directions within traffic to pick up extra yards. The 5’7”, 210-pounder has used that excellent vision to average 4.6 yards per carry through his seven-year career.

Receiving

8/10

Jones-Drew is a weapon out of the backfield and has shown soft hands and the ability to make plays out in space in the passing game. He sets up his screens well and shows good awareness out in space.

Overall

83/100

Jones-Drew is looking to bounce back after an injury-plagued 2012 season. He’s been one of the best backs in the game since he came into the league in 2006, and Jacksonville will need him if its going to bounce back.

13. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns

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Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Trent Richardson is a powerful running back at his best when running between the tackles and initiating contact with a defender. He’s a load to bring down and shows a great understanding of pad level and leverage. He’s always falling forward after contact and will run through any arm tackle. When the NFL names a rule after you because you’re hitting defenders so hard, you know you’re doing something right.

Speed

20/25

Richardson is faster than he’s given credit for due to his size and frame, but he’s light on his feet and has the speed to get outside on a stretch play. He had only two runs last season of more than 20 yards, but he is quick enough that defensive backs must take proper angles when coming downhill on him.

Vision

33/40

Richardson shows good vision within the box and has a knack for eluding tacklers as he falls for extra yardage. He reads his blocks well when running stretch plays and shows a good feel for when cutback lanes are open.

Receiving

8/10

Richardson has very good hands and was a big part of the Browns passing offense with 51 catches and 367 yards receiving in 2012.

Overall

83/100

Richardson is a powerful back who runs downhill with authority and brings enough other talents to the game to keep defenses guessing.

12. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Power

16/25

Chris Johnson is not a power runner by any means. We all know his story is speed, and he’s not a guy you’ll see flat-backing a linebacker in the hole. He will run through arm tackles in the open field, and those are often because of Johnson cutting back or making a move on a defensive back.

Speed

25/25

Johnson’s game is based on speed. He has another level once he gets past the first wave of defenders. Despite Johnson’s smaller frame and speed, he’s very effective in running between the tackles. He’ll pick his spots and be patient in looking for a lane before he's off to the races. He bounced back in 2012 and showed a lot of the speed that made him a household name in 2009 when he ran for over 2,000 yards.

Vision

35/40

Johnson shows good vision once getting through the first line of defenders. He looks for that lane to get upfield, and that’s where he makes his money. He will dance behind the line of scrimmage too much at times.

Receiving

7/10

Johnson had a career low in terms of catches and yards in the passing game in 2012. He shows average hands out of the backfield and should be more of a weapon with his skill out in space.

Overall

83/100

Despite his unbelievable speed, Johnson had only eight runs of 20-plus yards in 2012. That was good for ninth best in the NFL.

11. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

 

Power

22/25

Alfred Morris showed tremendous power and leverage when running inside the box in 2012. He understood how to get his pad level low and deliver his own brand of contact to anyone attempting to tackle him. His legs never stopped churning, and he showed tremendous effort after first contact to keep gaining yards.

Speed

17/25

Morris doesn’t possess elite downfield speed, but he has the vision and quickness to bounce runs to the outside if it’s there. He won’t outrun anyone in the open field and will look to lower his shoulder into someone on the edge. Morris doesn’t possess elite change-of-direction agility, but he does plant and cut well. There aren’t a lot of false steps when he’s maneuvering through traffic.

Vision

38/40

Morris possesses exceptional vision when running between the tackles and getting out on the edge. He sees cutback lanes and reads his blocks. From the games we watched, he didn’t seem to take a lot of shots straight on.

Receiving

7/10

Morris wasn’t a huge factor in the passing game for the Redskins. He’s a power back who caught just 11 passes last season, although he did show that he can be an outlet for Robert Griffin III when the pocket is breaking down.

Overall

84/100

Morris finished second in the league in rushing at 1,613 yards as a sixth-round rookie out of Florida Atlantic. He was by far the biggest surprise running back of the season. His combination of strength and vision will make him a force for Redskins for the foreseeable future.

10. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

Power

23/25

Few running backs have Frank Gore’s talent and production when it comes to running between the tackles. His low center of gravity allows him to power through tacklers and continue to fall forward for positive yards. It’s a rare day if you see him driven back for a negative rush. His power comes from leg drive that doesn’t stop until the play is over.

Speed

16/25

If lined up in a race, Gore wouldn’t be your pick to win, but his burst allows him to beat defenders to the hole. His ability to pick up yards outside the tackle box can be limited by his lack of speed.

Vision

38/40

Gore finds holes that don’t show up on film. He’s able to spot small openings and work his way through the line of scrimmage with power and agility. He’s patient, but he's also an attacking presence when the line doesn’t get the first-step push to dominate the defense.

Receiving

8/10

The 49ers loved to throw the ball to their running backs, especially when Alex Smith was in at quarterback, and Gore was a reliable threat in the flats. There were times when he couldn’t reach the ball if it was thrown slightly ahead of him, but when passes were spot-on, Gore produced.

Overall

85/100

One of the most consistent running backs, Gore is good for four yards seemingly every time he touches the ball. His combination of power and vision make him a tough out between the tackles.

9. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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Elsa/Getty Images

 

Power

21/25

One look at Arian Foster’s build, and you can tell he packs a punch. While power isn’t his best asset, he’s strong enough to bust open holes and run through tacklers. Foster gets low when met by a defender and has the burst to overpower defenders trying to get to his legs.

Speed

17/25

Foster isn’t a speed back, and you won’t see him shaking defenders in space to break away, but he’s fast enough to get to the corner and turn upfield. With his balance and power combination, that’s more than enough for him to keep defenses honest on the outside.

Vision

40/40

No running back follows his blockers better than Foster. He has an ideal combination of vision, balance, patience and instinct. There’s an almost sixth sense to the way he finds the hole and gets through the initial wave of defenders.

Receiving

7/10

The Texans liked to use Foster out of the backfield as a swing route and checkdown receiver, and he performed well there. There were dropped passes among the attempts thrown his way, but he’s a dependable threat in the flats and someone the defense has to keep tabs on.

Overall

85/100

Foster excels with patience and vision. He’s the ultimate underdog at running back and continues to work hard to beat the odds.

8. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

 

Power

23/25

Doug Martin was one of the league’s leading men in yards after contact, which goes to show how powerful the stocky rookie was in 2012. He has a naturally low center of gravity and runs with good balance to keep his feet after making contact with defenders. Not only did Martin pick up yards after contact, he was strong enough to break tackles and continue moving up the field.

Speed

19/25

We noted Martin’s ability to break tackles with power, but he also shook would-be tacklers with speed and agility. He has a very nice jump cut when defenders are in his path, and he showed good speed when in space to run away from the linebackers and defensive ends.

Vision

35/40

There were adjustments for Martin in his first season, but the former Boise State back hit the ground running. He scans the field well pre- and post-snap, showing a nice ability to find gaps in the defense when running both inside and outside the tackle box.

Receiving

8/10

The Tampa Bay offense went to Martin as much as possible, and that meant throwing him the ball too. He responded with 49 catches. Were it not for drops—mostly caused by failing to secure the ball before turning to run—Martin would have a perfect score.

Overall

85/100

Martin quickly lived up to the expectations placed on him as a first-round pick in 2012.

7. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

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Al Bello/Getty Images

 

Power

25/25

You won’t find a more physical, aggressive runner in the NFL. The best way to explain how amazing Marshawn Lynch is as a power back is to tell you this: He gained over 1,000 yards rushing after contact in 2012. Not only is he powerful, but he shows great balance to attack defenders and keep his feet to pick up yards after initiating that contact. Lynch is all strength, as he’s not one of the bigger backs in the game at 215 pounds.

Speed

19/25

Not a speed back or a true threat to run away from the defense, Lynch will get loose at times. If the defense loads up the box to try and stop the rushing game, he’ll show nice moves in space after getting past the initial wave of defenders.

Vision

35/40

A mauler with the ball in his hands, Lynch doesn’t always look for openings since he knows he can make one of his own if needed. He does show good patience when moving laterally to the sideline to find an opening in the offensive line. 

Receiving

6/10

Lynch isn’t relied on often as a receiver in the team’s offensive attack. When thrown to, which is mostly in the flats, he isn't always sure-handed.

Overall

85/100

Lynch is the NFL’s top power back. He’s a true bruiser, and the perfect back for the Seahawks’ physical style of play.

6. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

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Elsa/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

After contact, LeSean McCoy isn’t a high-level yardage back, but that’s not his game. When met in the hole or on the edge by a defender, he can lower his shoulder as a last resort to put a hit on the defender. McCoy is able to break tackles more due to his slippery running style and agility, and less because of his raw power or strength.

Speed

21/25

McCoy has elite agility and uses that ability to cut and shake defenders in gaps. He’s the closest thing today to Barry Sanders in terms of hip flexibility in space. On pure speed, McCoy is fast. He can get to the corner and turn upfield to pick up major yards before contact. He’s one of the best in the game at creating missed tackles.

Vision

37/40

McCoy sees the field exceptionally well no matter the situation he’s put in. We noted his ability to find creases in the offensive line and his penchant for making cuts and evading defenders at the second level of the defense.

Receiver

9/10

A legitimate threat as a receiver coming out of the backfield, there were times in 2012 when McCoy was more of an asset as a receiver than a running back due to the sad state of the Eagles’ outside run blocking. He’s a smooth athlete who looks the ball into his hands and makes sure he’s got it before turning upfield.

Overall

85/100

McCoy didn’t have monster production in 2012 thanks to a sometimes-pitiful Eagles offense and an injury that caused him to miss four games. But there’s no doubting that he's a top-tier back on talent, impact and production.

5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

 

Power

20/25

With a 222-pound frame, Matt Forte has the strength and bulk to run over defenders when they meet him head-on. He runs high at times and can be tackled at the waist because he’s not low enough to the ground. He can break tackles, but it’s an inconsistent trait.

Speed

22/25

Forte has the speed to get away from the defense, especially when he’s in space. He may not break away for 90-yard runs, but he’s fast enough to hit the edge. If he turns the corner, he’s good for a big gain.

Vision

36/40

It has to be added that the Bears offensive line was not very good. Forte has to rely on his vision to find the openings they do create and hit them before that opening closes. In the open field, he shows better vision than he does behind the line, moving freely and reading his blocks to get into space.

Receiving

8/10

The ball didn’t hit the ground often when thrown to Forte in the flats. He’s versatile enough to be moved out into the slot as needed and can threaten the defense from there. He did struggle to bring in the hot throws from Jay Cutler when the quarterback drilled passes.

Overall

86/100

Forte didn’t have the elite production of some other backs, but his abilities are as good. He’s versatile as a runner and receiver, and he showed the vision to pick up more than 1,000 yards rushing behind a suspect offensive line.

4. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

 

Power

18/25

Jamaal Charles isn’t known for his power. He has the strength to run through some arm tackles in the open field, but he's going down if a defender gets a shoulder into him. Charles did a better job in 2012 of understanding how to take hits when running inside the box. He’s a north-south runner who needs to keep his feet moving and his momentum going downhill.

Speed

23/25

Charles has become one of the biggest big-play threats because of his speed in the open field. He does a great job of getting through the second level inside the tackles before kicking it to the outside. You’d think with his speed that he’d constantly be looking to bounce everything outside. He does, but it’s only after getting to the second level.

Vision

39/40

Charles has outstanding vision when running through lanes and moving through a crease to the outside. He can work his way past the initial line of defenders. If he’s got daylight to the outside, he’ll find it.

Receiving

7/10

Charles wasn’t a big factor in the passing game last season. He had 35 receptions for 236 yards and one touchdown. He shows soft hands when asked to make plays out in space, and the Chiefs didn’t do him any favors by consistently running screens in very obvious situations. With Andy Reid coming to Kansas City, we’ll see Charles become a much bigger piece of the passing game.

Overall

87/100

Charles is an electrifying running back. Perhaps the Chiefs have found a quarterback in Alex Smith who can take some of the weight and pressure off Charles.

3. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Power

19/25

For a small running back, Ray Rice packs a punch when coming through the hole. Rice’s low center of gravity allows him to hit defenders and use his leverage and lower-body power to get through tacklers. When would-be tacklers get in his face, he can put them on their backs.

Speed

20/25

You may not think of Rice as a pure speed back, but he does have the quickness and burst to kill the defense with big runs. He’s fast enough to get to the corner and find daylight. When he’s in space, he’ll outrun defenders.

Vision

39/40

Vision is what makes Rice so great. He’s able to find seams behind the line of scrimmage and can fit his small frame through tiny openings. He’ll also make openings when needed and is one of the best in the game at reading the defense and following his blocks.

Receiving

10/10

Rice is an elite-level receiver coming out of the backfield. He’s poised and fluid when running routes into the flats, and he secures the ball there with limited drops or bobbles. He’s arguably the best receiving back in the game.

Overall

88/100

Rice is one of the most talented running backs in the NFL. His combination of vision, speed and receiving skills make him incredibly dangerous.

2. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

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Rick Stewart/Getty Images

 

Power

21/25

C.J. Spiller is a true speed back, but when he hits the open field with momentum, he’ll run over defenders in the hole. His natural instinct is to cut and try to shake tacklers, but if he must lower his shoulder, he can with some success.

Speed

25/25

Spiller is one of the NFL’s fastest and most elusive running backs. His ability to hit the hole at full speed allows him to eat up yardage and gash the defense. Spiller’s at his best when out on the edge, as he has the speed to score from anywhere on the field.

Vision

35/40

Spiller’s ability to see the field and find openings is impressive. We only docked his grade because his vision behind the line of scrimmage isn’t quite elite—but his open-field vision is. 

Receiving

10/10

Spiller is a talented and developed receiver coming out of the backfield or when flexed out into the slot. He’s multi-talented as a receiver and route-runner. 

Overall

91/100

Spiller didn’t have top-tier statistics, but it was clear every time he touched the ball in the 2012 season that he has the talent to be one of the most effective backs in the game. Our high ranking of Spiller is based on the quality of his power, speed, vision and receiving, as demonstrated last season. If he had been given leading-man touches early in the year, we’d be talking about him as a top stats producer too.

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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Joe Robbins/Getty Images

 

Power

25/25

Say a prayer for the defender that meets Adrian Peterson in the hole. He’s one of the NFL’s most powerful, violent runners and won’t shy away from contact. Defenders will take on hits from Peterson, and his high running style sets him up to deliver a stiff arm, a shoulder or a high knee to the face when tacklers drop their heads.

Speed

23/25

You might not think of Peterson as a speed back, but go back to Week 13 and watch him run away from the Green Bay Packers defense. He has the speed to lose defenders, especially when those defenders are laying on their backs after being run over. He’s a high runner with a long stride, so the look of Peterson running can be deceiving. But make no mistake: He can move.

Vision

40/40

It’s easy to assume that Peterson is a great running back because of his power and speed, but the attribute that makes him so talented and productive is his vision. He’s the best in the NFL at moving laterally behind the line of scrimmage and finding a seam. Once he finds that seam, his power and speed come into play.

Receiving

8/10

There are better receivers than Peterson, but he’s still a capable pass-catcher with the overall athletic ability to make plays in the flats. He does a good job looking the ball in, and while the difficult catches will trouble him, Peterson brings in the ball with strong hands.

Overall

96/100

Peterson had one of the best seasons any running back has ever had. His blend of power, speed and vision make him one of the NFL’s most valuable players.

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