2012 NFL Mock Draft: Possible Destinations for Top RB Prospects
The 2012 NFL draft will be full of talent at every position, and this year's running back class features some of the most explosive runners seen in a long time. Though the value of a running back is going down in the NFL, plenty of teams will still be anxiously awaiting the opportunity to draft top-notch runners such as Trent Richardson.
So which teams are possible landing spots for the top running back prospects? This slideshow names teams that may not want to pass up five top prospects.
Chris Polk, Washington
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The fact that Chris Polk has over 1,000 yards rushing in his past three seasons with Washington says a lot about his reliability. Size is not an issue, as Polk stands at 5'11" and 220 pounds, and he could definitely be a successful bruising back in the NFL.
Polk is more known for his powerful, fearless running style, but he still possesses the quickness and acceleration to blow past defenders and make things happen in the open field.
Projected to go somewhere between the second and third rounds, Polk could be a great addition to any team searching for a No. 2 back or a complement to a speed back, but he also has the size and power to be the featured runner in any offense.
LaMichael James, Oregon
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As much as I love LaMichael James, he will never be a feature back in the NFL. He simply lacks the size at 5'9" and 185 pounds. He's like the Kellen Moore of running backs.
However, just because James is small does not mean he cannot have an impact in the NFL. Darren Sproles (5'6", 190 pounds) is one of the NFL's most dangerous players despite his small size. Sproles makes his living catching passes out of the backfield and making himself known in the receiving game while also taking some of the load of Mark Ingram.
James could be a great No. 2 back and passing down back in the NFL if teams know how to use him. He could be used as a receiver out of the backfield or a runner for sweeps and pitches. Though he won't thrive off of running between the tackles, he can easily outrun most players down the sidelines and add explosiveness to an offense.
Lamar Miller, Miami
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Lamar Miller, though a slight risk due to this being his first season as a feature back in college, is oozing with potential. He is one of the fastest running backs in the country but is not too undersized for the NFL at 5'11" and 212 pounds.
Lamar Miller is shifty, quick and can break through arm tackles. He isn't a power back, but he can be an effective starter in the NFL or help form a lethal backfield tandem. He could see limited time in his first few seasons as a No. 2 back or kick returner, but it wouldn't be wise to keep Miller bottled up for too long; he could do serious damage in the NFL.
Many teams need an explosive player like Miller, who has great speed and acceleration but doesn't sacrifice much size for it. Many teams who need a playmaker in the backfield or more explosiveness in the offense could find it hard to pass up on Miller.
Possible Destinations: Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars
Montee Ball, Wisconsin
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Montee Ball is like a jack-of-all-trades back. He doesn't possess top-notch speed or strength, but he is a hard-working back who could definitely contribute in the NFL.
Ball comes from a team with a huge, powerful offensive line, which causes some to call him overrated, but he is a calm, patient back who is smart with the football and runs downhill, and he can be relied on to consistently pick up yardage.
Ball won't be the most explosive back in the NFL and wouldn't excel as a workhorse, but he could still be a solid player in a two-back system.
Players like Lamar Miller and Chris Polk have more defined skill sets and could be scooped up before Ball, and he is projected to go in the second or third round, but whichever team takes him will receive a player with a great work ethic and attitude who can grind out yards consistently in a tandem.
Possible Destinations: Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans
Trent Richardson, Alabama
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Trent Richardson is like the Andrew Luck of running backs: everyone may be sick of hearing about him, but the truth is, no other running back comes close to him in terms of NFL potential.
Richardson possesses the above-average speed, incredible strength and size to be one of the better backs in the NFL. He has ran the ball, caught out of the backfield and returned kicks for a No. 2-ranked Alabama team.
Though NFL teams may want to limit Richardson's role on special teams so as to not overwork him, Richardson's ability to run, block and catch means he can be a three-down back, something that is becoming more and more rare in the NFL.
Many teams could use Richardson as a workhorse back, and he would provide instant stability to any team's running game. It will be a shock if Richardson does not get taken in the first round.
Possible Destinations: Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, New York Jets