NFL Draft 2013: Highlighting Under-the-Radar Running Backs

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2013

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 03:  D.J. Harper #7 of the Boise State Broncos reacts after a play against the San Diego State Aztecs at Bronco Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

While bruising runners like Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball continue to garner most of the attention in the lead-up to April's 2013 NFL draft, there are other running backs available this spring who pack a punch of their own.

Whether they have the potential to develop into a back-field starter or simply provide a much-needed change of pace in the running game, these underrated performers bring a lot more to the table than most think.

Below, we'll highlight a trio of talented running backs flying under the radar this March. 


Knile Davis, Arkansas

2012 Stats: 112 rushes, 377 yards, two touchdowns; 11 receptions, 157 yards, one touchdown

Arkansas Razorbacks star Knile Davis put himself on the map with a strong performance at the combine in February, running a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and recording 31 reps on the bench press workout.

Still, Davis is flying under the radar this March following a down year in terms of production last season at Arkansas. He rushed for just 377 yards and two touchdowns, but did average over 14 yards per reception.

However, Davis has an ideal running back frame and boasts the vision and speed necessary to earn a spot on an NFL in 2013. 

In addition to possessing some power at 5'11", 227 pounds, Davis has the breakaway speed that scouts and coaches fall in love with every spring.

He has great hands for a back and is capable of exploding upfield for a big gain in the passing game.


D.J. Harper, Boise State

2012 Stats: 228 rushes, 1,137 yards, 15 touchdowns; 23 receptions, 163 yards, one touchdown

Boise State's D.J. Harper was one of the most productive backs in the nation in 2012, racking up 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground last season for the Broncos. 

The 5'9", 211-pound back isn't getting a whole lot of attention as the 2013 NFL draft nears, but he could certainly go in the mid- to late-rounds considering some of the numbers he posted at the combine last month.Harper ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and completed 23 reps on the bench. 

Harper's past injuries suffered with Boise State will likely scare some NFL higher-ups away, but if there were any doubts about his top-end speed and his ability to excel as a pro running back, they were erased in Indianapolis. 

He's not former teammate Doug Martin, but there's a lot to love about Harper's game.


Christine Michael, Texas A&M

2012 Stats: 88 rushes, 417 yards, 12 touchdowns; eight receptions, 48 yards

Christine Michael is a name that's hardly been mentioned this spring, but the former Texas A&M running back has loads of potential. 

He didn't rack up tons of yards with the Aggies last season like D.J. Harper, but he was dominant down by the goal line, scoring 12 rushing touchdowns during his senior season.

At the combine, Michael finished toward the top of nearly every workout, posting 27 reps on the bench press, recording a 43-inch vertical jump, a 125-inch broad jump and finishing the 3-cone drill in 6.69 seconds.

The coveted combination of power, speed and explosion is certainly there with Michael, even if his durability is a concern.

Still, a team willing to take a bit of a risk on Michael this April could wind up winning big based on his impressive skill set.


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