There is so much intriguing talent at quarterback and defensive line in the 2011 NFL, resulting in running backs being the forgotten position.
Just because the running backs aren’t getting a lot of attention it doesn’t mean there is not any talent at that spot. There are All-Americans, recorded holders and even a Heisman winner.
There are plenty of backs available that NFL teams would be happy to have. These are the top 10 running back prospects in the 2011 NFL draft.
Clay is a huge power back with phenomenal ball carrier vision. He is 6’1” 250-pound freight train in the backfield. The only real knock on Clay is his speed. His 40 time is around 4.65, a little slow for a running back.
Clay might be a risky pick for a team. There are a lot of questions about whether or not his style of play will translate into the NFL or not. However, I feel he has the potential to be a valuable asset to many teams in the NFL.
He has the ability to be a great goal-line back in the NFL. He might not get 30 carriers a game, but he should have plenty of opportunities to score.
Jamie Harper did not put up the gaudy numbers others on this list did in college. But if you look at Harper’s complete game, it is impressive.
Harper is a stocky running back, standing 5’11” and weighing 230. His size is prototypical for an NFL running back, and that will help him. He is not a big play guy, and will need to be a power back in the pros.
The greatest strengths of Harper might not even be in his running skills. He is a fine runner, but he is also a great blocker and possibly the best pass catching running back in the draft.
He is a very good player to have on any team because he can help your team in a number of different ways.
Rodgers is the opposite of guys like Jamie Harper and John Clay. Rodgers gets it done with his speed, athleticism and big play ability. He is electrifying and has the ability to take over games. In college he rushed for 1,000 yards three times and racked up numerous awards and All-American honors.
The biggest knock on Rodgers is his size. He is only 5’7”, 190 pounds. Smaller guys like Rodgers tend to get overpowered in the NFL, but there are always some exceptions.
If Rodgers can get bigger than he has a lot of potential at the next level. His athleticism make him and interesting prospect that I am sure some team will take a risk on. If he succeeds in the NFL, he has the ability to become a superstar.
Like Rodgers, Hunter’s frame is a big concern for NFL teams. He is only 5’7”, 200 pounds, a little thicker than Rodgers but still not heavy. The reason Hunter has the edge over Rodgers on this list is because his ability to run block.
Hunter as a runner is a pure speedster who uses his explosiveness to create big plays. In college he rushed for 1,500 yard seasons twice, he can definitely be the focal point of an offense.
If Hunters game can translate into the NFL, he too has the ability to be a star. And thanks to his blocking ability, he is a much safer pick than Rodgers.
DeMarco Murray is a workhouse type back with a 6’0”, 215-pound frame. He carried the ball an astonishing 757 times in his four seasons at Oklahoma, 282 of those carries coming in his final season.
Early in Murray’s college career he had unbelievable big play talent. But as he has matured, this home run hitting ability has seemed to fade away.
Murray will have a long successful career in the NFL because he is very consistent and tough. However, to become a star he needs to be able to break off some big plays like he used to.
Williams is choosing to forgo his junior and senior season to become one of the youngest players in the 2011 NFL draft. It was a pleasant surprise for NFL scouts because they expected to wait at least on more season before the talented back was going to enter the draft.
His decision is shocking because Williams battled a hamstring injury that causes him to miss four games. It lingered throughout the season and makes scouts worried that it is still an issue.
He is 5’10” 205 pounds, but is deceivingly strong despite his size. He runs like a back that is 6’0”, 220 pounds.
When healthy, Williams has been unbelievable. He is a tough runner that possesses above average breakaway speed. He is at his best when he gets outside and has the opportunity to make people miss.
It seems as if there is a great running back from CAL in the draft every season. Vereen was excellent last season for the Golden Bears, rushing for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns.
If I had to describe Vereen in one word, it would be shifty. He is probably the quickest east/west runner in the draft this season. He compliments that with his pure speed and power.
His 5’10”, 205-pound build is fairly average for a NFL running back, but he could add some weight. If he can develop, he has a good future ahead of him as a feature back.
Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount and Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis are Thomas’s closest comparisons. His great size has NFL scouts licking their chops to draft Thomas. He stands 6’2”, 230 pounds. The biggest concerns about him is that he might be too tall and has been known to fumble on occasion.
Thomas had a great deal of success in college, running for more than 1200 in both of his Division I seasons. His game should translate well into the NFL because he is a physical runner and very versatile.
His size makes him a phenomenal receiver and a great blocker. I see a lot of potential in Thomas. Whatever team give him a shot is going to be very happy that they did. When it comes to his size, there is no better running back in the draft.
Mikel LeShoure rewrote the Illinois record books last season. He rushed for 1,697 yards and recorded 17 touchdowns. His most impressive game came against Northwestern, when he rushed for 330 yards and two touchdowns at Wrigley Field.
LeShoure is a tank at 6’0”, 230 pounds. He is impossible for a single defender to take down and compliments his menacing power with silky smooth cuts and jukes. Along with all of these incredible aspects of his game, LeShoure did not have a single fumble in 2010 for Illinois.
I believe LeShoure will be a superstar in the NFL for many years. His power game and surprising breakaway speed make him a perfect fit for any system. The top two backs on this list are on their own level.
Ingram was the 2009 Heisman trophy winner and the best running back in the 2011 NFL draft. He has very good speed, runs the ball with a low center of gravity and has unparalleled acceleration.
The best aspect of Ingram’s game is his vision and football instincts. It is as if he know where defenders are going to be at all times because he finds the hole as good as any college running back I have ever seen.
He is 5’10”, 215 pounds, pretty much the ideal size for a NFL running back. It doesn’t seem like there is any doubt whether or not Ingram will be a great player in the NFL.
His father, Mark Ingram Sr., was an NFL wide receiver for the Giants. So he has a lot of hype to live up to. I predict that Ingram lives up to the hype and becomes one of the best backs in the league.