Top 25 Running Backs for the Upcoming 2013 NFL Draft

Eric EvansCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2013

Top 25 Running Backs for the Upcoming 2013 NFL Draft

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    With the NFL season now more than a week in the rear-view mirror and teams well into the process of assessing potential personnel changes, it's time for us to also set our sights forward on the marquee event of the NFL off season: the NFL draft.

    Every team will spend the next two months vigorously studying prospective draft picks to try and find the ones that will turn into NFL stars.

    This year's NFL draft may lack big names at the top of the draft, but what it lacks in star power it more than makes up for in depth.

    This is particularly true at the running back position, where quality running backs will be still be available deep into the draft this year. Let's take a look at the top 25 running backs in this year's draft and see who will be available when your team steps up to the podium.

25. Bradley Randle, UNLV

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    Bradley Randle is a stout runner at 5'7", 190. He runs well north and south, always moving forward and keeping his legs churning through the tackle.

    Randle is quick with good speed, buts lacks breakaway speed.

    2012 Season Stats: 138 carries, 635 yards. 4.6 YPC, 8 TDs.

24. Knile Davis, Arkansas

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    Knile Davis is a shifty runner with a good mix of size and speed. He has a the ability to make defenders miss however, if he fails to elude a defense, Davis is probably going down.

    Davis' biggest issue that will hinder his ability to succeed at the next level is his fumbling issues. Davis has major problems holding onto the football. While NFL teams often overlook many issues when considering a player, turning the ball over constantly is not one of them.

    2012 Season Stats: 112 carries, 377 yards, 3.4 YPC, 2 TDs

23. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers

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    Jawan Jamison is another shifty runner with the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. He does, however, have a bad habit of moving East and West too much. He will need to do a better job of finding the hole and getting upfield quicker.

    While Jamison does have good speed, he does not have the kind of speed you would hope to see out of a player his size. At just 5'6", Jamison will be one of the smallest players in the league. Jamison will need to develop into a more efficient runner in order to be successful at the next level.

    2012 Season Stats: 255 carries, 1,075 yards. 4.2 YPC, 4 TDs

22. Dennis Johnson, Arkansas

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    Dennis Johnson is a solid between the tackles runner, he has the ability to grind out yards and is always moving forward. He rarely has any wasted East-West movement, always finding the hole and getting upfield.

    Johnson lacks burst through the line and top end speed, however he has great vision inside. Johnson is also excellent in pass protection.

    2012 Season Stats: 137 Carries, 757 Yards. 5.5 YPC and 8 Tds.

21. Kenjon Barner, Oregon

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    Kenjon Barner possess good speed and vision that he has been able to use to mask some major flaws in his game.

    Barner uses far too much lateral movement when trying to find a hole to run through. His superior speed (in comparison to inferior college players) has allowed him to use excessive east-west movement and get away with it. He must learn to get upfield quicker if he is to succeed at the next level.

    Barner also seems to avoid hits at almost all costs, even running sideways out of bounds rather than fighting for extra yards, This is a trait that most NFL teams will find unacceptable.

    Barner must run with more urgency and fight for extra yards.

    2012 Stats: 278 carries, 1,767 yards. 6.4 YPC, 21 TDs.

20. Cierre Wood, Notre Dame

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    Cierre Wood has a good mix of strength and speed. He runs well between the tackles with good vision. Wood is a one-cut-and-go type runner with little wasted east-west movement.

    Wood does not have great burst through the line or top-end speed. He will rely on his vision and efficient running style in order to be effective at the next level. Wood is also good in pass protection.  

    2012 Season Stats: 114 carries, 742 yards, 6.5 YPC, 4 TDs

19. Theo Riddick, Notre Dame

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    Theo Riddick is an aggressive runner who shows good burst through the line of scrimmage. Riddick has good vision and does very well when he gets in space. Riddick runs strong and has a good ability to run through tackles.

    Riddick's time at wide receiver his sophomore and junior seasons have helped him develop into an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield. Riddick possess good hands and runs routes well.

    Riddick will need to develop his pass protection skills at the next level. While Riddick does have good speed, he lacks breakaway speed.

    2012 Season Stats: 190 carries, 917 yards, 4.8 YPC, 5 TDs

18. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska

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    Rex Burkhead is a very technically sound runner. He has the vision and patience to follow blockers well. While he lacks play-making burst and top-end speed, Rex finds running lanes well and fights for extra yards. Burkhead also possess good hands and is good in pass protection.

    2012 Season Stats: 98 carries, 675 yards, 6.9 YPC, 5 TDs 

17. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford

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    Stepfan Taylor is a strong, downhill runner. Taylor doesn't have good burst or top end speed, however he hits the hole hard and keeps his legs churning through the play.

    Taylor possesses good vision between the tackles and isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and move the pile. Taylor also is excellent in pass protection.

    2012 Season Stats: 322 carries, 1,530 yards, 4.8 YPC, 13 TDs

16. Chris Thompson, Florida State

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    Chris Thompson is a speed runner. He is great in open space and has the ability to make defenders miss. Thompson has big-play capabilities.

    Thompson has trouble running between the tackles and is not a very patient runner. Thompson will need to work on letting plays develop in front of him. He has a bad habit of outrunning his blockers on screen passes.

    Thompson has good hands and average pass protection skills.

    2012 Season Stats: 91 carries, 687 yards, 7.5 YPC, 5 TDs

15. Michael Dyer, Auburn

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    Michael Dyer is a strong, explosive runner. Dyer possesses good vision, however he has trouble avoiding defenders and making them miss. Dyer is an aggressive runner who fights for extra yards and doesn't give up on plays.

    Dyer's biggest problems may be his off-field issues. Dyer was dismissed from Auburn after the 2011 season for violating team rules and was then ruled ineligible for immediate play by the NCAA for the 2012 season.

    Dyer will need to prove that he can regain his playing form and show that he can stay out of trouble.

    2011 Season Stats: 242 carries, 1,242 yards. 5.1 YPC, 10 TDs

14. Michael Ford, LSU

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    Michael Ford has a good mix of size and speed. Ford is fast enough to get to the edge, but big enough to fight for extra yards.

    Ford's biggest flaw might be that he tries to rely on his speed too much. He must work on getting upfield faster with less east-west movement.

    2012 Season Stats: 71 carries, 392 yards. 5.5 YPC, 3 TDs

13. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

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    Joseph Randle is a quick runner with good top-end speed. Randle is great in open space and has great play-making abilities. Randle also has good pass catching skills.

    Randle does, however, lack the vision to consistently run between the tackles. He also struggles in shedding blocks, consistently being taken down by the first hit. Randle also has fumble issues that could hinder his opportunities at the next level.

    2012 Season Stats: 274 carries, 1,417 yards, 5.2 YPC, 14 TDs

12. Silas Redd, Southern California

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    Silas Redd is a one-cut-and-go type runner. Redd displays downhill running ability with good power. Redd sheds blocks well and runs with his shoulders square to the line. Redd does a good job of sliding off defenders and getting upfield. Redd is also good in pass protection.

    Redd's biggest downfall is his inability to protect the football. He has fumbling issues that he must work to fix in order to make an impact at the next level.

    2012 Season Stats: 167 carries, 905 yards, 5.4 YPC, 9 TDs  

11. Mike Gillislee, Florida

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    Mike Gillislee is a speed back. He does well in open space and is excellent at making defenders miss. He is a quick-twitch runner with great burst and play-making abilities.

    Gillislee is not strong enough to run consistently between the tackles. He does a good job of keeping his legs moving through the tackle however. While Gillislee does an excellent job of avoiding tackles, he does not shed tackles well.

    2012 Season Stats: 244 carries, 1,152 yards. 4.7 YPC, 10 TDs

10. Andre Ellington, Clemson

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    Andre Ellington has a good mix of size and speed. Ellington is a strong north-south runner who gets downfield quickly. Ellington shows great balance and a good ability to stay on his feet.

    Ellington has good speed, but lacks breakaway speed. Ellington also displays good strength but doesn't break many tackles. While his game has few major flaws, he doesn't do particularly excel in any one facet of the game.

    2012 Season Stats: 212 carries, 1,081 yards. 5.1 YPC, 8 TDs

9. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

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    Marcus Lattimore is a one-cut-and-go type runner. He is excellent at keeping his pad level low and hitting the hole hard. While he doesn't break a lot of tackles, Lattimore consistently falls forward and gets extra yards.

    Lattimore lacks the vision necessary to gain good yardage between the tackles. While he has good speed, he lacks exceptional burst or speed.

    The biggest question surrounding Marcus Lattimore, of course, is the gruesome knee injury that he suffered this season and how well and how quickly he will be able to bounce back from it. He has vowed to be ready for the 2013 NFL season, whether he will be able to play at the level he did previously will be the gamble an NFL team will have to make in April.

    2012 Season Stats: 143 carries, 662 yards, 4.6 YPC, 11 TDs.

8. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

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    Johnathan Franklin is a speed rusher with big play ability. Franklin possess breakaway speed with good vision. Franklin is at his best when he gets out in open space and can run away from defenders.

    Franklin shows hesitation between the tackles, which keeps him from being able to pick up extra yardage. Franklin also struggles to pull in passes and is weak in pass protection.

    2012 Season Stats: 282 carries, 1,734 yards, 6.1 YPC, 13 TDs.

7. D.J. Harper, Boise State

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    D.J. Harper is a good all-around back. He has good speed, the ability to shed tackles and make defenders miss. Harper possess good hands, and has average pass protection skills.

    Harper is not an especially shifty runner, more of a one-cut-and-go type runner. He runs well on the outside but has the vision to find running lanes between the tackles.

    The biggest concern that teams will have when drafting Harper is that he has had two blown ACLs. While he has shown that he is back to 100 percent since the injuries, teams may be concerned with his durability,

    2012 Season Stats: 228 carries, 1,137 Yards, 5.0 YPC, 15 TDs.

6. Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

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    Ray Graham is a shifty runner with good burst and breakaway speed. Graham shows great ability to make defenders miss. He also has good hands and is proficient in pass protection.

    An ACL injury ended Graham's junior season and he never got back to full speed as a senior. If he can continue to improve to pre-injury form and get back the speed and agility that he showed his junior season, Graham can be a difference maker in the NFL.

    2012 Season Stats: 222 carries, 1,042 yards, 4.7 YPC, 11 TDs.

5. Christine Michael, Texas A&M

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    Christine Michael is a strong, hard runner. He runs well between the tackles with good burst. Michael does an excellent job of keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and keeping his pad level low. He also has great speed for a player of his size.

    Michael does not move well east-west, so moving forward and running downhill is vital to his success at the next level.

    2012 Season Stats: 88 carries, 417 yards, 4.7 YPC, 12 TDs.

4. Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State

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    Le'Veon Bell is an incredibly patient runner, possibly to the fault of hesitance. He has excellent vision and is always keeping his eyes up field. Bell is a strong runner that sheds tackles well. Bell has good speed for his size, but lacks an initial burst off the line of scrimmage.

    Bell has a bad habit of being very lazy in his pass protection. He stands very upright and seems to give minimal effort at times. When the effort is there, he has his pad level lower and engages defenders much better.

    2012 Season Stats: 382 carries, 1,793 yards, 4.7 YPC, 12 TDs

3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin

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    Montee Ball is a strong runner. He runs well between the tackles with good vision. He is a north-south runner who is constantly moving forward. When he is tackled he is always falling forward, trying to gain extra yards. Ball displays good burst at the line of scrimmage and has excellent balance when avoiding defenders. As the All-time NCAA touchdown leader, he has a nose for the endzone.

    While Ball does have good speed, he does lack breakaway, top-end speed. He is also weak in pass protection.

    2012 Season Stats: 356 carries, 1,830 yards, 5.1 YPC, 22 TDs

2. Eddie Lacy, Alabama

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    Eddie Lacy is an incredibly strong runner. He runs north-south very well with great quickness for a runner his size. Lacy has a spin move that he uses very effectively to create space and shed blocks. Lacy has excellent breakaway speed, while still running well between the tackles.

    Lacy does not move well laterally and must keep moving forward to be effective. He also has trouble with his footwork in pass protection and must continue to develop in that area.

    2012 Season Stats: 204 carries, 1,322 yards. 6.5 YPC, 17 TDs

1. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

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    Giovani Bernard has all the tools to be the biggest play-maker in this year's crop. Bernard has quick feet, is elusive, has excellent vision and is a very patient runner. Bernard is excellent at following his blocks and finding space to run. While he is not an overpowering runner, he shows good ability to shed blocks. All of these attributes combine to make him very dangerous in the return game.

    Bernard is also excellent in pass protection and is not afraid to hit someone.

    Bernard's only glaring weakness may be his size. As a smaller runner (205 pounds), he lacks the ability to be a pounding runner between the tackles. That weakness is more than overshadowed by the other traits that he brings to the table.

    2012 Season Stats: 184 carries, 1,228 yards, 6.8 YPC, 12 TDs