2010 NFL Draft: Top Five Running Back Rankings
Running back hasn't been a position of strength lately in the NFL Draft.
There have been three running backs or fewer taken in the first round of seven of the last 10 drafts, and 2010 should continue that trend.
For every Chris Johnson, there's a Darren McFadden, a so-called sure thing who doesn't live up to the hype.
You never know how a prospect will perform until they put on that uniform on Sundays. It's one of the many reasons the draft is so much fun to watch and analyze.
One wrong pick can set a franchise back years and can cost people their jobs.
Franchises looking for a running back better grab them early because this year's class is pretty weak.
Here are the top five running backs in the 2010 NFL Draft.
1. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
Mathews led the NCAA in rushing last season as a junior with 1,808 yards facing eight and nine-man fronts.
He was the NCAA touchdown leader with 14 in his freshman season and is the best back between the tackles in this draft.
Mathews has the size (218 pounds) and speed (4.41 in the 40) that NFL teams covet.
He's a strong, powerful runner, an excellent blocker, and he has decent hands.
Mathews is simply the best back in the draft.
2. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Spiller can best be summed up in one word—speed.
The guy is fast. Really fast.
Like 4.37 at the Combine fast.
He's a tough runner who had 1,715 yards from scrimmage in 2009, and scored an average of one TD per game.
Spiller is a multi-purpose back as evidenced by his 123 career receptions and 11.5 yard per catch.
The one drawback is his lack of size (under 200 pounds) and whether he can stand the punishment of a 16-game NFL season.
3. Jahvid Best, California
Best is this years version of Reggie Bush.
And that can be a good or bad thing depending how you look at it.
Best has 4.27 speed with good hands and running ability, which will cause matchup problems with linebackers and safeties trying to cover him over the middle or on the edge.
His lack of size (another back under 200 pounds) and durability issues are cause for concern.
Look for him to make an immediate impact on special teams.
If Best was just a little bigger, he would be the first back taken in this draft.
4. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
If you're a team looking for a power back, this is your guy.
Dwyer is a thick, powerful runner who only knows one way to run and that's forward.
A very productive back in college (back-to-back 1,395 yard seasons) who will attack the line of scrimmage.
He doesn't have much breakaway speed, but power runners don't need that dimension in their game.
Poor hands at the combine make him a one-dimensional back and will drop him down to the second or early third round.
5. Toby Gerhart, Stanford
Gerhart should be getting more attention than he has.
Maybe it's a west coast thing. Who can know for sure?
Gerhart is another north-south power back who had an incredibly productive collegiate career.
He set a single-season school record with 1,871 yards rushing in 2009, was selected Pacific-10 Conference offensive player of the year, and finished second to Alabama's Mark Ingram by 28 points in the closest Heisman Trophy vote ever.
He's intelligent (he went to Stanford for Pete's sake) with good size (6'0", 230-pounds), decent hands, and he's a team leader.
Gerhart is adept at breaking tackles and plays quick despite the lack of breakaway speed.
He's fallen under the radar and that could be a good thing for the team that takes him. Gerhart could end up being a third-round steal.
Others to watch: Montario Hardesty, Tennessee; Ben Tate, Auburn; Joe McKnight, USC.