How NFL teams approach the running back position is by far one of the most compelling aspects of every draft.
On the one hand, teams tend to be afraid of spending an early pick on a ball-carrier. On average, the lifespan of a running back's career is far shorter than any other position, and unless you're getting a Trent Richardson, using a top selection just isn't worth it.
On the other hand, the learning curve for running backs going from college to the NFL is significantly less steep than it is for many other positions, so they are able to help their team more quickly.
In the end, it usually makes for plenty of steals throughout the draft, and while no running backs are widely projected to go in this year's first round, many have the talent to produce right away.
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
When looking for a youngster who is capable of making an immediate impact at the next level, it's important to find someone who can excel in every aspect of the game.
That's Bernard in a nutshell.
In 2012, the Tar Heel standout rushed for 6.7 yards per carry, pulled in 490 receiving yards and even added 263 via punt returns. He also had an impressive 19 total touchdowns.
While the dynamic runner could stand to gain some more yards after contact, his quickness, elusiveness and versatility will get him on the field right away.
Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Lacy's draft stock was skyrocketing after he bulldozed Notre Dame to the tune of 157 total yards on 22 touches and two touchdowns, but his inability to work out during the pre-draft process has quickly put the kibosh on that.
Nevertheless, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport has good news on that front:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
NFL teams have been informed Alabama RB Eddie Lacy will workout -- and run the 40 -- on April 11 in Tuscaloosa. Injury has healed3/28/2013, 7:46:33 PM
Soon enough, teams will be reminded of Lacy's unrelenting blend of size, power, speed and downhill running ability, and if they don't, that just means the first-round talent will come out of the draft as an ever bigger steal.
Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Although the first two will likely fall outside the top 30 picks, they are both fairly obvious.
The third choice for this list is much more up for debate. Andre Ellington and Johnathan Franklin have breakaway speed and terrific cutting ability, while someone like Montee Ball has the vision and power to pick up chunks of yards at a time.
But Michael's talent is undeniable.
While there's a history of both injury and attitude issues, he is truly dangerous once he steps on the field, combining excellent vision and acceleration to burst through the holes with a low center of gravity and wrecking-ball power to finish off runs.
If the 5'10", 220-pound back can stay focused (a big if, mind you), he is going to be impressively productive on early downs and in goal-line situations from Day 1.
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