2011 NFL Draft: Top 10 Running Backs
The 2011 NFL Draft running back class is very solid and most of them will go in the middle rounds. There isn't a lot of star power outside of Mark Ingram, but I see a lot of these running backs having solid careers in the NFL.
The value of running backs has gone down recently in terms of draft position. Many NFL teams use two backs and teams are throwing a lot more. The NFL has become a passing league. Running backs who can catch the football and help in pass protection are more of an asset now than a running back who can just run the ball.
A lot of running backs that would have been a Top 10 pick is previous drafts are now becoming Top 25 picks.
Here are my Top 10 running backs in the 2011 NFL Draft.
10. Derrick Locke, Sr: Kentucky Wildcats
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Very fast running back who runs a 4.4 second 40. Was very impressive in the Senior Bowl displaying excellent vision and burst. Averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in his senior year. Locke needs to stay healthy. Could be a great third down back in the NFL. Also has kick return abilities.
9. Shane Vereen, Redshirt Jr: California Golden Bears
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Vereen has good lateral quickness and speed. Filled in nicely at running back after Jahvid Best left Cal. Not afraid of contact and if there is a good running lane, he has the speed to take it to the endzone. Very consistant runner that has averaged at least five yards a carry each season. Very underrated hands.
8. Jordan Todman, Jr: Connecticut Huskies
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Todman carried the ball 334 times his junior year and really was the only source of offense the Huskies had all year due to poor quarterback play. Still he averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Didn't catch the ball out of the backfield much in Connecticut's offense. Could be a great back in the NFL on a team that uses two running backs.
7. DeMarco Murray, Redshirt Sr: Oklahoma Sooners
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Explosive running back that is a home run hitter. Caught 71 passes his senior year and ran for 15 touchdowns. Has not fumbled in 759 career carries. Like to use his speed and run outside instead of running between the tackles. Would make an excellent third down back in the NFL.
6. Dion Lewis, Redshirt Soph: Pittsburgh Panthers
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Lewis left school early and would be a steal in the third or fourth round of the NFL Draft. Very powerful back with pretty good speed as well. Can hide behind lineman and find the smallest running lanes. Hits the hole quick. Ran the ball 325 times for a 5.5 average per carry his freshman season. Production dipped a little his sophomore season splitting carries with Ray Graham. Produces better when he is the featured running back. Can catch the ball and pass protect.
5. Daniel Thomas, Sr: Kansas State Wildcats
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Daniel Thomas is a very big running back. Needs to show he can catch the football. Due to his height he runs upright and can sometimes be too easy to take down. Needs to learn to run with a lower base but Vikings running back Adrian Peterson runs upright and seems to be doing just fine. Ran for over 1500 yards his senior year averaging 5.3 yards per carry while scoring 19 rushing touchdowns. There are some concerns about his overall speed.
4. Kendall Hunter, Sr: Oklahoma State Cowboys
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After an excellent sophomore year Kendall Hunter had a stumble his junior year getting injured. But he bounced back to finish off a very strong senior year. He carried the ball 271 times in 2010 averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Shows good balance, vision, and is not afraid of contact. Runs about a 4.4 second 40. Could actually be the best running back in this class.
3. Ryan Williams, Redshirt Soph: Virginia Tech Hokies
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Had an excellent freshman season averaging 5.6 yard a carry on 293 attempts. Production dipped his sophomore season sharing carries with two other running backs and not playing in four games due to a hamstring injury. Not great at catching the football but will pick up the blitz. Williams should be able to return to his freshman year form and be a starter in the NFL.
2. Mark Ingram, Jr: Alabama Crimson Tide
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Ingram is a powerful running back with great instincts and vision. Won the Heisman Trophy his sophomore season averaging 6.1 yards a carry rushing for 1,658 yards. May be a bit overrated in terms of he was just on an excellent team and he probably won't be averaging 5 yards a carry in the NFL due to a lack of speed. Will probably be the first running back taken in the 2011 NFL Draft.
1. Mikel Leshoure, Jr: Illinois Fighting Illini
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Leshoure has a perfect combination of size, power, vision and speed. Had a dominating junior season rushing for 1,697 yards on only 281 carries. Has a lot of potential and works hard to get where he wants to be.