2011 NFL Draft: The Top 10 Running Backs in the Draft

Sal DeRose@@TheSalDeRoseCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: The Top 10 Running Backs in the Draft

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  DeMarco Murray #7 of the Oklahoma Sooners  against the Connecticut Huskies attempts to take it away in the first half during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    With the NFL's 2011 season in jeopardy, fans have one thing to turn to for the next couple of months—the 2011 NFL Draft.

    This year's class of running backs could help out numerous teams in their first year on the field. So that raises one question, out of all these running backs, who is the top back in the draft?

10. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State

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    CORVALLIS, OR - OCTOBER 10: Running back Jacquizz Rodgers #1 of the Oregon State Beavers looks for some running room in the first quarter of the game against the Stanford Cardinals at Reser Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Corvallis, Oregon. Oregon State wo
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Jacquizz flat out knows how to run. Many people count him out because of his height—he's only 5'7".

    Height shouldn't count against a guy who ran for 3,790 yards in his career and added 46 touchdowns to his resume.

    It didn't matter for former UCLA running back Maurice Jones-Drew, so it shouldn't matter for Jacquizz. He's a great running back with good vision and should be a deadly back in the NFL.

    In combination with his running ability, Rodgers has some good hands, amassing 146 receptions in his career with a high of 78 receptions in 2009.

    Height: 5'7" feet tall

    Weight: 191 pounds

    Career Stats: 766 attempts, 3,790 yards rushing, 46 touchdowns, 4.9 yards per carry

9. Shane Vereen, California

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Shane Vereen #34 of the California Golden Bears in action against the Stanford Cardinal at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Another Pac-10 running back on this list, Vereen has been an excellent back for the Golden Bears over the last three seasons.

    Vereen has managed to get some solid numbers at Cal rushing for 1,167 yards this past season and 13 touchdowns.

    Overall Vereen, the past two seasons, has had 12 rushing touchdowns and 13 touchdowns, respectively.

    Vereen should be a mid-round pick and could become a solid back in the NFL.

    Height: 5'10" feet tall

    Weight: 204 pounds

    Career Stats: 556 attempts, 2,834 yards rushing, 29 rushing touchdowns, 5.1 yards per carry 

8. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

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    LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 14:  Daniel Thomas #8 of the Kansas State Wildcats carries the ball as Olaitan Oguntodu #44 of the Kansas Jayhawks defends during the game on October 14, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Im
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    He may not have the breakout speed you would want out of a great NFL running back, but Thomas knows how to find the end zone and does it very well.

    Thomas tore up the Big 12 last season rushing for 19 touchdowns and 1,585 yards. He played a very big part in the Kansas State offense for the past two seasons after transferring from junior college in 2009.

    Like it was said before, he may not have the speed, but he is a very hard runner and is not easy to take down. He has exactly the kind of size you would want in a NFL running back.

    He should go in the middle rounds as well, possibly as early as the third round.

    Height: 6'2" feet tall

    Weight: 228 pounds

    Career Stats: 545 attempts, 2,850 yards rushing, 30 rushing touchdowns, 5.2 yards per carry

7. Jordan Todman, Connecticut

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    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball around the Cincinnati Bearcats defense on November 27, 2010 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the Bearcats 38-17.  (Photo
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Jordan Todman had a fantastic 2010 season with the Huskies in the Big East.

    He tore up the defenses in the Big East for 1,695 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.

    The past two seasons he has been the back for Connecticut and a reason why they won the games they did.

    He doesn't have the exact size of an NFL running back, but his skill set and stats don't lie. He could make a splash soon.

    Height: 5'9" feet tall

    Weight: 193 pounds

    Career Stats: 616 attempts, 3,179 yards rushing, 31 rushing touchdowns, 5.2 yards per carry 

6. Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington

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    Jones is coming from Division II football and should be a serious look for teams come the NFL Draft.

    Taiwan has ideal size for an NFL running back and has the skills to be a starter some day in the league.

    He rushed for 2,955 yards in his career at Eastern Washington and 29 touchdowns in two years as a starter.

    Everytime Jones touches the ball, it's like he either gets a first down or just shy of it, averaging 7.7 yards per carry in his career.

    Jones is a big sleeper in this draft.

    Height: 6'1" feet tall

    Weight: 200 pounds

    Career Stats: 383 attempts, 2,955 yards rushing, 29 rushing touchdowns, 7.7 yards per carry

5. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Ryan Williams #34 of the Virginia Tech Hokies against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Williams didn't have a 2010 season that would wow NFL scouts or teams, but he does have potential as shown in his 2009 season where he rushed for 21 touchdowns and 1,655 yards.

    He's coming out of Virginia Tech having a season in which he failed to break 500 yards rushing and only averaging 4.3 yards per carry after averaging 5.7 in 2009.

    Williams has decent size and enough upside potential to warrant a second or third-round pick though.

    Height: 5'10" feet tall

    Weight: 202 pounds

    Career Stats: 403 attempts, 2,132 yards rushing, 30 rushing touchdowns, 5.3 yards per carry

4. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

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    DALLAS - OCTOBER 02:  Running back Demarco Murray #7 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs for a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns in the first quarter at the Cotton Bowl on October 2, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Just to show how deep this draft is at running back, the back who replaced Adrian Peterson really well is ranked fifth.

    Murray has been solid over the last four years at Oklahoma. Outside of his injuries, Murray really doesn't have a downside. He had surgery in 2007 on his knee and underwent surgery again in 2008 for a ruptured left hamstring. Not to mention the rest of the injuries he has accumulated over the years—foot injury in '07, hamstring and ankle injuries in '09 and a knee injury last season.

    Besides his injury issues, Murray has solid NFL potential with his athleticism and ideal NFL size. He runs hard and can start off on special teams play too; having been a part of the special teams unit at Oklahoma early on.

    Height: 6'1" feet tall

    Weight: 207 pounds

    Career Stats: 759 attempts, 3,685 yards rushing, 50 rushing touchdowns, 4.9 yards per carry

3. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 20: Mikel Leshoure #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs on his way to a 339 yard rushing performance against the Northwestern Wildcats during a game played at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois defeated
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Leshoure is coming off of a great 2010 season and should be a late first-round or second-round pick come April.

    Last season at Illinois, he tore up the Big Ten for 1,697 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.

    He has pretty good size for a back and has great potential coming into the NFL. He's another back that every time he touches the ball he gets big yardage, averaging six yards per carry in his career at Illinois.

    Height: 6' feet tall

    Weight: 230 pounds

    Career Stats: 424 attempts, 2,557 yards rushing, 23 rushing touchdowns, 6.0 yards per carry

2. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

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    LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Kendall Hunter #24 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys carries the ball during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on November 20, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Oklahoma State is producing yet again another high powered, undersized back.

    He has injury concerns, but after the career he had at Oklahoma State, he should be one of the top running backs looked at.

    He may be small in size (He's only 5'8", 197 pounds), but he's built big enough where it shouldn't be an issue.

    Last season he rushed for 16 touchdowns and 1,548 yards in a relatively healthy year for Hunter.

    He's got great speed and has serious potential to break and shake every tackle coming his way.

    Height: 5'8" feet tall

    Weight: 197 pounds

    Career Stats: 698 attempts, 4,099 yards rushing, 37 rushing touchdowns, 5.9 yards per carry

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama

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    ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01:  Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the Capitol One Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans at the Florida Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by M
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    This is kind of a no-brainer. The former Heisman winner is definitely the top back coming in and would have been the top back last year when he won the Heisman too.

    Ingram is a great runner and his stats took a hit this year because he missed the first couple games due to an injury.

    Ingram split carries with fellow Crimson Tide back, Trent Richardson, but still produced pretty good stats in 2010.

    Overall in his three seasons at Alabama, Ingram has produced solid numbers and solidified him as this year's top back.

    Height: 5'10" feet tall

    Weight: 215 pounds

    Career Stats: 572 attempts, 3,261 yards rushing, 42 rushing touchdowns, 5.7 yards per carry