2010 NFL Draft's Top 10 Running Back Prospects Before the Workouts
The 2010 NFL Draft Class is known as a class full of great defensive talent along with a good group of offensive tackles.
The first round of the draft will most likely be full of those players, with some skill players on the offensive side of the ball chosen here and there.
The 2010 running draft class looks so far to be a weak one compared to the last few years' drafts, which were stocked with talented running backs all along the board.
The All-Star games and NFL Draft Combine give some unrecognized running backs the chance to show their stuff and move up the draft boards.
I am here to show you the 10 running backs that have the best chance at succeeding in the NFL...so far.
10. Chris Brown, Oklahoma
When reading that name, some will say, is that the guy who beat up Rihanna? Wrong.
Okay...isn't he already in the NFL playing for the Houston Texans? Wrong again!
I am talking about Chris Brown of the Oklahoma Sooners, a name that may only be familiar to most Big 12 fans.
Brown is an absolute workhorse type of running back with the ability to make you miss. His stats were not the greatest this year with the Sooners due to having to split carries with the explosive DeMarco Murray.
He has the chance to be as good, if not better than that other running back named Chris Brown.
Brown gets the chance to show his stuff in college all-star games as he is scheduled in both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.
9. LeGarrette Blount, Oregon
We all know about his infamous punch in the Ducks' first game against Boise State, so I am going to skip that and look at him as a football player.
Many will find this hard to believe, but a lot of scouts had Blount rated as a first round draft pick in the Ducks' offseason.
After his suspension, Blount showed that he could still be considered an NFL draft prospect. His return against Oregon State showed some of the flashes that made scouts rave about him from the '08-09 season, and he scored the Ducks' first touchdown in the Rose Bowl.
His 40 time and interviews will dictate where he will be on NFL teams' draft boards.
In the NFL, I can see Blount starting as a third-string running back that could be used in short yardage situations and for goal line plunges.
It will be interesting to see if he makes something out of himself and proves the doubters wrong or becomes the next Maurice Clarett.
8. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State
Anthony Dixon is one of those guys who not many people have heard about and could pop up out of nowhere in the NFL.
Dixon played all but one game in his career at Mississippi State starting in 2006. He is a good-sized running back at 6'1", 235 pounds with decent speed and showed some signs of being a good power back in the NFL.
The only huge thing that he lacks is consistency, especially against tough defenses such as Florida and Alabama.
Dixon is another one of those guys that can greatly increase his stock during the NFL Combine.
Dixon is scheduled to participate in both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.
7. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
If you watched the New Mexico Bowl, you would have seen that Ryan Mathews has the potential to be a stud.
Sure, he played against Wyoming, but 31 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns in a big game like that is big.
In fact, only two of Fresno State's games this season did not feature a 100-yard performance by Mathews, who twice had over 230 yards carrying. One of those games came against Boise State, who had an undefeated season with an impressive defense.
After that kind of season, Mathews made the right choice on deciding to enter the NFL Draft. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do in the NFL. I see him as one of those mid-round running backs who finds a way to get carries.
6. Joe McKnight, USC
My first feeling about Joe McKnight is that if he stayed one more year at USC, he would have been a first round pick—although an SUV may have prevented McKnight from deciding to do so.
McKnight's athletic abilities are amazing. His stats for the Trojans weren't extremely impressive due to his injuries during his first two years and the fact that USC has a lot of talent at running back, so they share the load.
Being healthy this year, he managed to run for a little over 1,000 yards. Some of his 164 rushing attempts this year showed that the sky is the limit for McKnight.
Scouts will definitely be keeping an eye on him between now and the NFL Draft.
It wouldn't hurt McKnight to get some meat on his bones at 190 pounds, but at the moment his upside is worth an NFL team to take a chance on him on the first or second day of the draft.
5. Toby Gerhart, Stanford
* Note: I made it a point to include a full-body picture of Gerhart to show his gigantic tree-like thigh muscles and overall body strength.
Can many college running backs improve their NFL stock during a season much more than Toby Gerhart did at Stanford?
Gerhart, the only running back in this draft to have a shot at winning the Heisman, showed this year that he can be a very productive NFL running back.
Gerhart's size is good for a potential NFL bruiser at 6'1" and a whopping 235 pounds of muscle. Plus he is smart. Remember, he went to Stanford with a TOUGH schedule. There is no doubting he is an absolute workhorse.
The downsides to Gerhart are first, how fast is he? Second, did he take too much of a beating at Stanford? These questions are soon to be answered.
4. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
You could argue that Jonathan Dwyer was only a good running back in college because of Georgia Tech's triple-option attack. If you are on that side, you are wrong.
Dwyer has the potential to be a late first round pick after back-to-back 1,395-yard seasons at Georgia Tech.
Dwyer has great speed for his size of 6'1", 235 pounds, and that is the reason he is ranked so high in most 2010 running back rankings. At Georgia Tech, he is listed as a fullback, but he is mostly likely to be a power back in the NFL.
He runs hard and has the ability to break some tackles. Therefore he belongs amongst the top in the running back rankings for the 2010 NFL Draft.
3. Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
Dexter McCluster may be a surprise to some people right here, but with his 184-yard rushing, two-touchdown, 45-yard receiving performance against Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, McCluster showed he can do it all.
If you have read or heard about him lately, you have probably noticed the comparisons to this year's NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Chris Johnson, who is coming off a 2,000-yard-plus season. That is not a bad comparison at all going into the NFL Draft, and that is why his stock is so high.
McCluster's bursts of speed, combined with his pass catching ability, will make him a popular prospect within the next few months. Those abilities save him from some doubts on his 5'8", 165-pound size. He really needs to gain some weight quickly.
It will be interesting to see where he lands.
2. Jahvid Best, California
Jahvid Best is a great pro prospect. However, there is a question on how will he come back from the extremely painful-looking concussion he sustained against Oregon State?
Best was having a pretty good season, but not to where expectations were, failing to gain over 65 yards against the Pac-10's best defenses.
His 5'10", 195-pound frame is good for a speedy NFL running back who has the ability to catch, and whether he is a first round pick or not really depends on how he does in the NFL Draft Combine.
I can see him getting some quality carries his rookie year in the NFL. I don't doubt his decision to enter the NFL Draft; in some games this year he looked ready.
1. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
I mentioned the last player on the list, Dexter McCluster, can do it all. C.J. Spiller can really DO IT ALL.
Spiller had an amazing season at Clemson, scoring a touchdown in every single game this year—whether it was running, receiving, returning, and even passing.
At 5'11", 195 pounds, his speed and ability to make people miss, along with the ability to do everything besides play defense and kick, makes him the top running back prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft. He will be an exciting one to watch in the next level.
He could be used as a running back, returner, receiver, or wildcat back for whoever decides to nab him. Spiller is the only running back in this draft sure to be a first round pick—which is what puts him at the top of my list.
Important Dates and Running Backs Who Just Missed the Cut
Important dates for the NFL Draft:
Underclassmen NFL Draft Declaration Date: Jan. 15
East-West Shrine Game: Jan. 22, 3 p.m. ET
Senior Bowl: Jan. 30, 4 p.m, ET
Workouts take place throughout the draft process.
NFL Draft Combine: Feb. 24-March 2
Round One of the Draft, Thursday, April 22, 7:30 p.m. ET
Rounds Two and Three, Friday, April 23, 6:30 p.m. ET
Rounds Four through Seven: Saturday, April 24, 10 a.m. ET
Just missed the cut in no order:
Andre Anderson, Tulane
Charles Scott, LSU
Keiland Williams, LSU
Ben Tate, Auburn
Stafon Johnson, USC
Montario Hardesty, Tennessee