2011 NFL Draft: The Top 10 RBs Entering the NFL
The running back position has been phased out somewhat over the last few seasons. Whether it be the prevalence of pass-first teams, or teams using multiple RBs to carry the load. Teams just aren't spending first round picks on RBs quite the way they used to.
Ryan Mathews was the first RB taken in 2010 and had a disappointing season. While injury played a part in that, teams will look at Mathews as an example of why they can find productive RBs in later rounds.
10. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh
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Lewis, a two-year starter at Pittsburgh had an excellent career. He is solid in all areas. For a player his size, Lewis doesn't possess the game-breaking ability some would think.
His elusiveness and acceleration are outstanding and he proved to be durable despite his size in college. He carried a heavy workload as a freshman.
Look for Lewis to be selected in the middle rounds but will provide excellent value to the team selecting him.
9. Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington
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Jones recently ran a 4.32 40 yard dash and had a productive college career. He has drawn comparisons to Tennessee's Chris Johnson because of his blazing speed.
Jones was Big Sky co-Offensive Player of the Year. He ran for just under 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jones broke his foot in the playoffs so he wasn't healthy for the combine. If he had been healthy, Jones would have been mentioned higher on this list.
His stock continues to soar and with that incredible speed, it would not be a surprise to see Jones go in round two.
8. Da'Rel Scott, Maryland
Scott grabbed the attention of the NFL when he posted amazing workout numbers. He ran the 40 in just under 4.4 and was solid in every one of the drills.
He has decent size with room to grow. He is not a good blocker and has questionable change-of-direction ability despite blazing speed.
Scott shared the carries at Maryland so he has less wear and tear than some of the other RBs and that is a positive in the eyes of the NFL.
Look for Scott to go in the middle rounds, 3-5.
7. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
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Hunter is a small back but has deceiving power. Only 5'7 and just under 200 lbs, Hunter has an excellent lower-body strength and will always fight for the extra yards.
He doesn't possess elite speed, but has good enough speed to get around the edge and get downfield. Hunter is also a solid receiver out of the backfield.
Hunter is an underrated player who will be a nice complement to an established starter. Look for him to be picked in round four.
6. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
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Thomas has outstanding size and power. He possesses decent speed for someone his size. He is a legitimate power-runner.
He has good footwork and is a load to bring down. Thomas does have some character concerns but with his size, production and durability, Thomas should be selected in round three.
5. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
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Murray had a solid career at Oklahoma. He had a dominant sophomore season. He was injured much of his junior season causing concerns about his durability.
Murray is athletic and has the ability to make plays inside and outside. He has excellent patience and solid speed. There are concerns that he runs too upright at times which could be a reason for the injury issues.
Murray is a solid all-around prospect who should go between round two and three.
4. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
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For such a small RB, Rodgers is an excellent inside runner. He has tremendous lower-body strength and very good speed. His size will never allow him to be an every down RB. But many teams employee a RB by committee to where Rodgers would be ideal.
Besides his size, there is so much to like about Rodgers. His vision and change-of-direction ability are simply amazing. Rodgers reminds some of Baltimore RB Ray Rice.
Rodgers should go in round two.
3. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois
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Leshoure has ideal size for an NFL RB. Standing 5'11 and weighing 230 lbs, Leshoure is built to carry the ball over 20 times per game. For a man his size though, he sometimes runs like a smaller back instead of running through defenders.
He has deceptively good speed and is a solid blocker in the passing game. He was durable in his college career.
Possesses many traits that will give him an outside shot of being a first round pick, but more than likely, he will fall into the second round.
2. Mark Ingram, Alabama
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A complete running back. While never possessing great speed, Ingram can turn the corner and get down field. He has shown good hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
He is a strong runner with good vision and patience. Despite a knee injury in college, Ingram was durable. He will be solid starter in the NFL almost immediately.
Ingram has reminded many of Emmitt Smith not only in size, but in his running style as well.
Look for Ingram to go sometime late in round one.
1. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
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Williams is powerfully built with excellent body lean and lower body contact to run through the first defenders. His legs are always moving. He doesn't have blazing speed, but good speed. He is a quick, but patient.
Williams runs low to the ground so it is often hard to get solid contact on him. He often creates contact which could lead to nagging injuries in the NFL. Showed the ability in college to grind out the tough inside yards or break outside and outrun defenders.
He is a good receiver out of the backfield.
Williams missed some last season with a nagging hamstring injury so some will question his durability.
Williams will be a good pro, especially in a zone-blocking scheme. He is a solid second round selection.