With the combine over and done with, it's time to take a second, and third, look at some of the prospects that scouts will have their eye on in April. This year's class of running backs is a little ambiguous, but the top recruits are starting to take shape before our very eyes.
The Combine is a good place to see the prospects out of their own comfort zone and away from familiarity. So, with that being said, here are a few players that did well in Indianapolis and a few that failed to impress.
For a look at the Quarterbacks, click here.
Players Whose Stock Went Up
1. Ben Tate (Auburn)
40-yard Dash (4.43) Bench Press (26) Vertical Jump (40.5) 3-Cone Drill (6.91)
Broad Jump (10'4")
Ben Tate really impressed at the Combine, running a third-best 40-yar dash and leading the pack in the bench press and vertical jump. His rare combination of elite upper and lower body strength was a refreshing sight to see.
Tate came out of Auburn without the amount of recognition his fellow SEC backs garnered, but he has until March 9th, when Auburn holds their Pro Day, to further impress the critics and improve his game.
2. Jahvid Best (Cal)
40-Yard Dash (4.35) Bench Press (18) 3-Cone Drill (6.75) Broad Jump (9'3")
Jahvid really did look his "best" at the Combine, posting the fastest 40-yard dash and 3-Cone drill of all other backs. His workout video showed a back that can change directions on a dime and turn on the jets once he turns the corner.
There are still concerns that the nagging injuries throughout his career at Cal is a strong indicator to his durability, but Best is confident he can take the hits at the next level. Though he's not built like the prototypical running back, Best's stock is better than it's ever been at this point.
3. Ryan Matthews (Fresno State)
40-Yard Dash (4.53) Bench Press (19) Vertical Jump (36.0) Broad Jump (10'1")
Until recently, Matthews wasn't grouped with the likes of Best and Spiller, but after a raving performance at the Combine, it's looking more and more like he has a chance to make a first-round berth.
Matthews has the build of an NFL-ready running back and though he didn't finish first in any of the categories, his numbers are strong. He can catch out of the backfield and he'll have an opportunity to lower that 4.53 40-yard at Fresno States' Pro Day on March 17th.
4. C.J. Spiller (Clemson)
40-Yard Dash (4.37) Bench Press (18)
Spiller didn't participate in all of the drills in Indianapolis, but he is still considered to be the top running back prospect in his class. His 4.37 40-yard dash will likely be faster at his Pro Day, but until then, all we can do is wait.
Spiller is an explosive back who has the potential to be a legitimate game-breaker at the next level. His bench press numbers, though not especially impressive, are solid for his size and speak volumes about his physicality as a runner.
5. Montario Hardesty (Tennessee)
40-Yard Dash (4.49) Bench Press (21) Vertical Jump (41.0) 3-Cone Drill (6.87)
Broad Jump (10'4")
Hardesty came out of the '09 season as a late-round prospect, someone who could contribute immediately as a third-round back, and maybe more. Now, Hardesty is coming into his own; his combine showed solid upper and lower body strength as he posted the day's best vertical leap and middle-of-the-road bench stats.
Physically, he has all of the tangibles you look for. He runs like a tank and, once he gets to his second gear, it's hard to bring him down. There's still an air of obscurity surrounding camp Hardesty, but with a Pro Day on March 17th, he has plenty of time to answer the questions.
Players Whose Stock Went Down
1. Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech)
40-Yard Dash (4.59) Bench Press (15) Broad Jump (8'11")
Dwyer failed to impress anyone with his numbers at the Combine, but many scouts still hold him in high regard as a late blessing for any team lucky enough to chance upon him in later rounds.
Hopefully, Dwyer will spend more time in the weight room and have a better Pro Day. He has the prototypical build of an every-down back in the NFL, but his speed is a concern for anyone unwilling to put up big numbers for a potential bust.
2. Joique Bell (Wayne State)
40-Yard Dash (4.65) Vertical Jump (36.5) 3-Cone Drill (6.84) Broad Jump (10')
Bell ran a disappointing 40-yard dash at the combine and, while the eyes of the media aren't focused on him anyway, he had a tremendous Senior Bowl and has the potential to be an effective backup at the professional level.
What he lacks in straight-line speed, Bell makes up for it with great lateral quickness. He has soft hands out of the backfield, as well. Wayne State will not be holding a Pro Day for Bell but Central Michigan's Dan Lefevour has invited Bell to join him at his Pro Day instead.
3. Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss)
40-Yard Dash (4.58) Bench Press (20) Vertical Jump (37.5) Broad Jump (9'10")
After the Senior Bowl, it looked like McCluster was destined to be among the top prospects in April, but a disappointing 40-yard dash at the Combine has hurt his stock. McCluster posted up impressive numbers at Ole Miss as a back and a wideout and I expect scouts to put more weight into his tape than his raw numbers, but he sure didn't help himself at all.
McCluster will have another shot to run a better 40-yrad dash during his Pro Day, but until then, he looks like a late second or third round pick, a guy that can be an immediate contributor as a third-down back.
4. LeGarrette Blount (Oregon)
40-Yard Dash (4.62) Bench Press (19) 3-Cone Drill (6.85) Broad Jump (9'9")
After being suspended early in the '09 season and suffering from injuries afterwards, it looked like Blount was bound for a late-round selection. Well, nothing much has changed. A disinterested performance in the Combine has taken even more attention off of the former Duck.
His inconsistencies at Oregon was a concern then and his inconsistent numbers are a concern now. He has the physicality of an NFL running back but the slow 40-yard dash and a lachrymose performance overall is only hurting his stock.
5. Charles Scott (LSU)
40-Yard Dash (4.67) 3-Cone Drill (6.98) Broad Jump (9'3")
Scott is another player whose size prohibits him from garnering a label of "explosive back" but every team is looking for a back with physicality and speed. Scott posted the slowest 3-Cone time out of all other backs who opted to run it and finished in the bottom of every other category.
More than a few agencies had Scott pegged as early-mid round prospect but his failure to impress at the Combine may have hurt those chances.