B/R NFL Draft 400: Top Running Backs for 2015

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 20, 2015

B/R NFL Draft 400: Top Running Backs for 2015

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    John Sommers/Associated Press

    Each spring, 256 players are drafted into the NFL, with roughly another 100 added as undrafted free agents. With close to 350 players joining the pros each year, it's tough to keep track. 

    Everyone knows who Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper are. But what about the rest of the class? At Bleacher Report, our aim is to thoroughly cover the draft unlike any other outlet, so we're not stopping with coverage of the top 32 picks or even the top 200 picks. We're covering the top 400 draft-eligible players, with a full scouting report on each one. 

    The top 400 players have been tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by myself and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal. Together, we have viewed a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use), and oftentimes we've seen every play from a player over the last two years. That's led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players are graded on strengths and weaknesses, with a pro-player comparison added that matches the player's style or fit in the pros. Position by position, the top 400 players are broken down for easy viewing before the final release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade on the top 400 board.

The Grading Scale

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 9.00 and 4.00 on a unique grading scale. This scale comes from the teaching I had from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I've tweaked it this year to be more transparent, and the result is each player receiving a number grade as well as his ranking.

    This applies to all positions.

    Matt Miller Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite, No. 1 Pick
    8.00-8.99 All-Pro Potential 
    7.50-7.99Pro Bowl Potential 
    7.00-7.49Top-15 Player Potential 
    6.50-6.99Rookie Impact/Future Starter 
    6.00-6.49Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.50-5.99Future Starter
    5.10-5.49Quality Backup
    5.01-5.09Backup Caliber
    5.00 Draftable Player Cutoff
    4.75-4.99Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.74Camp Player
    4.00-4.49Not NFL-Caliber

35. Kenny Hilliard, LSU

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
    Combine Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-ConeVertical
    6'0"226 lbs4.83s7.17s27"

    STRENGTHS

    Kenny Hilliard is a prototypical big back with good quickness, good speed and solid hands. He can come at the defense a few different ways—as a short-yardage back, in a single back set or as a receiver out of the backfield. Hilliard has limited wear-and-tear, as he never had more than 94 total touches in a season at LSU. Hilliard is a team player with good enough baseline athletic traits and the size to intrigue teams looking for a late-round or priority free agent power back.

    WEAKNESSES

    Hilliard was never a go-to option for the Tigers and started just seven games in four years. With the ball in his hands you won’t see much burst or acceleration to the hole. Hilliard lacks urgency hitting the hole at times and isn’t the hard-nosed finisher you expect for 226 pounds. Without the agility to shake defenders, he has to run with more power and play up to his size. If Hilliard wasn’t good enough for the LSU backfield rotation, he’s a tough sell as good enough for the NFL.

    2014 Statistics
    Rush Att.Rush YdsAvgTDsRecRec YdsRec avgRec TD
    904475.064358.80

     


    FINAL GRADE: 4.90/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

34. Gus Johnson, Stephen F. Austin

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'10" 215 lbs 4.70s 7.09s 36.5"

    STRENGTHS

    Gus Johnson took his combine invite and impressed with 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. He has good size, with a thick upper body and a strong lower body. That shows up on film with broken tackles and the short, choppy steps to get to top speed in space. Johnson runs with good balance and body lean, and he’s a tough player to knock off his feet. Johnson was dominant against small-school competition.

    WEAKNESSES

    Johnson may look like a hard-nosed, punishing, violent back, but he doesn’t fit that bill on film. He’s actually kind of timid and doesn’t attack the line of scrimmage like you’d want him to. With below-average speed, Johnson has to be a bulldozer between the tackles, and he doesn’t look for those opportunities. He’s a marginal athlete with unimpressive explosive qualities, making him a priority free-agent prospect.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
    256 1,683 23


    FINAL GRADE: 4.90/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

33. Dominique Brown, Louisville

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    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'2" 234 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A huge back with exceptional power, Dominique Brown can be a short-yardage specialist. Brown can run through arm tackles, and even with his high-and-tight running style, he can get low to pick up tough yards between the tackles. He’s patient and shows good vision to find the secondary rushing lanes if his first option isn’t there. Brown will flash big plays and NFL-caliber moves. He’s surprisingly agile and shows soft hands in the open field, catching our eye often as a competent receiver.

    WEAKNESSES

    Brown was a limited player for Louisville. He was never a full-time starter and missed the 2012 season with an MCL tear. It’s a major question mark that Brown fell out of favor once Charlie Strong’s staff left and that his playing time went down so dramatically as the season wore on. Brown was a complete non-factor for half of the Louisville season. He has NFL size, but doesn’t always play with NFL power, and he has a motor that runs hot and cold. That lack of effort means he is leaving yards on the field. With limited athleticism and questions about work ethic, Brown will get passed over for equally talented backs with better determination.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     96 378 4


    FINAL GRADE: 4.99/9.00 (Backup)

32. Michael Dyer, Louisville

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    Garry Jones/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'8" 218 lbs 4.58s - 34"

    STRENGTHS

    A workhorse back with experience and production, Michael Dyer is an interesting case. He’s been around the block in college, but wherever he’s been, he gives 100 percent effort. Dyer is ideal for a one-cut scheme, and he shows the body control to get downhill and build up speed and momentum. He’s an assignment player who will run through a brick wall if that’s the play call. He’s strong, agile and has enough speed to pick up longer runs when he hits daylight. Dyer follows his blocks and is an easy player to block for.

    WEAKNESSES

    A veteran college football player, Dyer left high school in 2010 and sat out the 2012 season at Arkansas State and then at Arkansas Baptist College (where he only attended classes). Dyer transferred from Auburn after the 2011 season, which he ended suspended for breaking unspecified team rules. At Arkansas State, Dyer was pulled over by state police, and they found a gun and marijuana in his car. The officer was later fired for not filing charges and disposing of evidence. Dyer then spent the 2014 season at Louisville, but was ruled academically ineligible for the Belk Bowl. Head coach Bobby Petrino then blocked Dyer from working out at the team’s pro day.

    On the field, Dyer is already 24 years old and will turn 25 in October of his rookie season. At a position that rarely lasts past 30 in today’s NFL, that alone may keep him from being drafted. Dyer is no longer the creative, aggressive runner he was at Auburn, and too often he fails to get past first contact. He’s a tight-hipped runner with average speed and average foot quickness.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     110 481 5


    FINAL GRADE: 4.99/9.00 (Backup)

31. Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'0" 204 lbs 4.62s 7.08s 33"

    STRENGTHS

    A small-school star, Ross Scheuerman parlayed his production into a combine invite and put himself on the map. Scheuerman was a four-year producer at Lafayette, racking up over 3,500 yards and 31 touchdowns. A solid all-around athlete, he has the top-end speed to get away from defenders and will pick up plus yards at the first and second levels. Scheuerman has good burst and gets to his top gear in a hurry, something you see when he’s on the edge as a runner or receiver. He also brings versatility, as he’s a good receiver and kick returner.

    WEAKNESSES

    Scheuerman played on a bad team with very limited offensive help, which meant a ton of touches for him (834 in his career). He doesn’t have the frame or body of a running back, looking more like a receiver due to his lean composition. He’s not a threat to run over defenders in space and is very limited between the tackles. Scheuerman is best used as more of an offensive weapon and less as a traditional running back.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     236 1,191 12


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

30. B.J. Catalon, TCU

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'7" 186 lbs 4.57s 6.90s 36"

    STRENGTHS

    B.J. Catalon is a triple threat as a runner, receiver and return man, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner in 2013 and 2014. He’s a fast, shifty runner with the speed to pick up big yards out of the backfield or on returns. He can be a home run hitter. Catalon has good moves in the open field and can cut and change direction well on the go. A jack-of-all-trades, Catalon will be a fun weapon for a creative offense. He’s able to line up in the slot, go in motion and play from the backfield, and he can be a mismatch if you get him in man coverage.

    WEAKNESSES

    Catalon missed the last five games of the year with a concussion, something that will be a huge red flag for teams. With his small frame and ball-control issues, it’s easy to see why his production might not equal an NFL future. He’s an outside runner only and passes up inside yards looking for the corner, and he can’t be counted on to run inside even on draws or counters. He’s a dancer behind the line and doesn’t charge ahead to pick up the yards in front of him. Catalon has to be seen as an injury risk in the NFL with his concussion history.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     98 493 10


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

29. Jahwan Edwards, Ball State

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    Mike Groll/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'9" 220 lbs 4.80s 7.63s 35.5"

    STRENGTHS

    With three straight 1,000-yard seasons in the MAC, Jahwan Edwards heads to the NFL with experience and production under his belt. Edwards looks the part on the hoof with a thick, filled-out frame and the power to withstand NFL hits. Edwards has ideal ability to cut and accelerate, and he’s a good fit in a one-cut scheme that would let him get downhill in a hurry. He’s a finisher with good ability to pick up extra yards after contact. Edwards has soft hands and good routes out of the backfield, and he’ll be able to add value as a receiver and blocker.

    WEAKNESSES

    Immediately you notice that Edwards lacks NFL speed and quickness, and that was backed up by his combine and pro day runs. The film doesn’t show the level of burst you want from a starting back in the pros, and a lack of fire out of the blocks at times really cuts down on his yardage. Edwards’ vision is inconsistent, and there are times he passes up the open lane for the designed play.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     262 1,252 12


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

28. Dee Hart, Colorado State

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'7" 199 lbs 4.80s 7.20s 33"

    STRENGTHS

    A small back with big production, Dee Hart played just one season at Colorado State after graduating from Alabama. You won’t find many players in this draft with more determination to pick up yards. Hart hates to be tackled, and he’ll fight for extra yards on every run. His motor runs at 100 percent. He’s tough between the tackles and will do anything the coaches ask of him. You’d never guess Hart was under 200 pounds by the way he runs, as he’s a true power back and will put defenders on the ground if they get in the lane. Hart adds production as a receiver and will get his nose dirty as a blocker.

    WEAKNESSES

    Hart doesn’t have great size, great speed or great agility. He’s billed as an all-purpose back, but the two ACL tears at Alabama have zapped his quickness. That lack of quickness and speed makes Hart a predictable back, and he doesn’t create on his own if the rushing lane is closed on him. He isn’t a threat to cut back on defenses, and that was shown as teams didn’t have to set the edge against him as a runner. Hart was arrested in February 2014 for marijuana possession and giving false information to police.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     194 1,275 16


    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

27. Braylon Heard, Kentucky

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    Garry Jones/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'10" 198 lbs 4.63s 7.19s 30.5"

    STRENGTHS

    Braylon Heard is a smaller back with big burst out of the backfield, and his ability to go from zero to 60 is what will catch the eyes of NFL scouts. A creative outside runner, Heard plays much faster than his combine time (4.63 seconds) shows and can run away from defenders. He’s lightning fast to his top speed and makes jaw-dropping cuts in the open field. Heard will leave defenders hugging arm, and once he’s gone, there’s no catching him. He’s quick, agile and cat-like with a jump cut, but he shows patience and vision behind the line of scrimmage and reads his blocks well to set up impact runs. Heard can be a threat as a receiver and runs very good routes out of the backfield. He has potential as a returner.

    WEAKNESSES

    Heard left Kentucky a year early and projects as a late-round or priority free-agent pick. That’s a concern, and teams must find out why he decided to leave early. Heard doesn’t play strong, and he lacks the strength to run through even light tackle attempts. Once wrapped up, he’s down and will often lose yards instead of falling forward or driving for extra yardage. A smaller frame makes him easy to knock off his lane, and he can get flustered if the first hole closes on him, which leads to dancing behind the line.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     73 368 4


    FINAL GRADE: 5.05/9.00 (Backup)

26. Marcus Murphy, Missouri

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'8" 193 lbs 4.61s - 29"

    STRENGTHS

    Marcus Murphy will remind football fans of another Missouri running back, Henry Josey. He’s short, compact and does his work by making defenders miss him in the hole and down the field. Murphy doesn’t have Josey’s game-changing speed, but he is an all-purpose stud with running, receiving and returning skills. If you want a great return man who can help at running back and maybe slot receiver, Murphy is your guy. He’s been second-team All-SEC (2013) and first-team All-SEC (2014) as an all-purpose player and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Murphy is a very good receiver with soft hands and legitimate ability to get open from the slot.

    WEAKNESSES

    If you want Murphy to get the ball, you’d better scheme him touches. He’s not the type of player to create on his own and must be worked into the game plan. Without great speed, he won’t be that scatback with home run potential and is a pretty limited runner due to his smaller stature and lack of play power. Murphy is inexperienced as a classic running back but could be a good fit for a creative offense that won’t ask him to power between the tackles or pass protect.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
    177924 4


    FINAL GRADE: 5.05/9.00 (Backup)

25. Terrence Magee, LSU

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'8" 213 lbs - 7.52s 37"

    STRENGTHS

    A running back by trade, Terrance Magee spent time at wide receiver during his college career and gives NFL teams versatility at the position. A jack-of-all-trades offensive player, Magee is tough through holes and will get low and take on tacklers at the point of attack. He shows up on film as a pass protector in a pro-style college offense and isn’t afraid to take on much bigger defenders. A zone scheme would best fit Magee’s running style, and he can help out as a receiver and blocker on third down.

    WEAKNESSES

    Magee only started one game at LSU in 2014 and was never the team’s No. 1 back in his career. A lack of speed is a big question for him—especially given his lack of creative running. He won’t jump off the film as very good at anything other than blocking. Magee doesn’t have the burst to pick up yards outside the tackle box and will get run down in the open field by NFL-caliber defenders. The fact that he was such a small role player at LSU is definitely a big concern.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
    112 571 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Quality Backup)

24. Corey Grant, Auburn

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'11" 205 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A track star with elite speed, Corey Grant can flat-out run away from the defense. Grant will wow you with athletic feats and has the speed and strength of a starting NFL running back. He isn’t just a speed back, though. He’ll run over defenders and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and pick up tough yards. He’s been asked to run inside and outside the tackles at Auburn and approaches both equally. Once he has the ball, watch out. Grant can accelerate and run away from the defense once he sees daylight. He adds value as a receiver and should see opportunities to return kicks and punts in the NFL.

    WEAKNESSES

    Grant began his career at Alabama but transferred to Auburn, making him an older player (2010 high school graduate). The lack of use makes Grant intriguing, but you have to ask why he wasn’t more of a factor in the offense with his speed. The scheme at Auburn definitely helped Grant produce, as he was largely used outside the tackle box. For all of his speed and strength, he isn’t impressively agile and doesn’t make great cuts in the open field. He’s very much a straight-line runner. Teams looking to draft Grant are buying into the upside, not looking at what he was at Auburn.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     60 364 3


    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Quality Backup)

23. Tyler Varga, Yale

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'11" 222 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    Some may list Tyler Varga at fullback, but here he’s a running back. Varga is a body builder on the scales and definitely looks the part with muscles on top of muscles. He’s a high-character, smart player with an Ivy League background. On the field, Varga is very competitive and fights for yards after contact. With huge hands (10 ⅝”), he’s proven himself to be a good receiver and willing blocker. Varga has excellent cutting skills with the ball in his hands, and he can identify and get to cutback lanes in a hurry. Tacklers who come at him without full determination will get put on their backs. Varga dominated at Yale and held his own during Senior Bowl practices, where he was largely used at fullback.

    WEAKNESSES

    Varga doesn’t have great top-end speed, and already there have been complaints that he’s “too muscular” from NFL scouts who worry about hamstrings and tendon injuries. Varga doesn’t have run-away speed and isn’t a threat on the edge or outside runs. A zone scheme is best for his one-cut, downhill style, but he doesn’t have the agility to give teams much burst from the backfield.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     223 1,423 22


    FINAL GRADE: 5.15/9.00 (Quality Backup)

22. Josh Robinson, Mississippi State

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'8" 217 lbs 4.63s - 32"

    STRENGTHS

    Josh Robinson probably left a tackler in the dirt while you were reading this. He’s elusive—among the most elusive of all the backs in this class—and excels at leaving tacklers with empty arms. He’s able to change direction on a dime and accelerates well out of his breaks. Robinson runs low to the ground and makes himself a small target coming through the line of scrimmage. That he can make so many tacklers miss without great agility is a testament to his instincts and hips. He is ready for third downs in the NFL and can contribute as a receiver and blocker.

    WEAKNESSES

    Robinson won’t blow anyone away with athleticism, and his lack of speed will be a major issue in the NFL. He doesn’t have ideal burst or the speed to run off tackle in the NFL. A lack of top-tier athleticism and a smaller, shorter stride that limits his top-end speed makes Robinson more of a rotational back than a go-to runner. He’s not going to create rushing lanes for himself, so expect him to take what’s there and not much more. Robinson succumbs to easy tackles too often and doesn’t break through ankle tackles.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     190 1,203 11


    FINAL GRADE: 5.15/9.00 (Quality Backup)

21. Malcolm Agnew, Southern Illinois

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    Bruce Crummy/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'9" 207 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A two-year player at Oregon State before transferring to Southern Illinois, Malcolm Agnew has NFL size and speed. He’s a tough inside runner who relishes contact and has the burst to get upfield quickly. His vision is a plus, and he’s not afraid to chase cutback lanes or go after secondary holes. He’ll make tacklers miss with agile hips and quick feet. Agnew brings value as a receiver and has the speed and moves to pick up yards after the catch. His dad, Ray, played in the NFL for 11 years. He has upside once healthy and isn’t a player you’d want to bet against making an impact in the league.

    WEAKNESSES

    A season-ending ankle injury cut Agnew down just eight games into the season. He doesn’t have great size or elite speed, doing just enough but nothing spectacular. As a power runner, he doesn’t give you much more than what’s there, and he isn’t the type to push the pile or break out of a scrum for extra yards. Agnew is a bit of a dancer behind the line and really wants that home run instead of taking the base hit.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     136 820 10


    FINAL GRADE: 5.19/9.00 (Quality Backup)

20. Malcolm Brown, Texas

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'11" 224 lbs 4.50s 6.86s 34.5"

    STRENGTHS

    One of the best running backs in high school before he joined Texas, Malcolm Brown has huge expectations attached to him. He played behind some very bad offensive lines at Texas, and on teams with very little passing threat. He was asked to share carries throughout his career, which held him back since he’s more of a rhythm runner. Athletically, he’s impressive, with a filled-out frame and the strength, speed and agility you want from a starting NFL back. He’ll run through tacklers and is a strong, aggressive runner who isn’t timid between the tackles. Brown’s best days may be ahead of him if he can stay healthy. It shouldn’t surprise if he breaks out in the NFL where he never could at Texas.

    WEAKNESSES

    Brown struggled with injuries during his stay at Texas and is a durability concern. The inability to live up to his prep hype puts a dark cloud on him, as you come in expecting more. He’s not the type to pick up yards that aren’t there or create on his own, and he is correctly typecast as a one-cut, downhill runner. Without great speed, he won’t give you much outside the tackles.

    PRO COMPARISON: Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans

    A power runner with good all-around skills, Brown's body and football traits are similar to Shonn Greene's.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     183 708 6


    FINAL GRADE: 5.19/9.00 (Quality Backup)

19. John Crockett, North Dakota State

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'0" 217 lbs 4.62s 7.15s 40"

    STRENGTHS

    John Crockett dominated at North Dakota State, bringing in scouts for must-see performances. He’s a big, hulking back who runs with violence. But he’s also patient, instinctive and plays with a gliding style. Crockett has good awareness with the ball in his hands and shows the vision to identify holes and secondary rushing lanes. He’s creative enough to find his own way through the line and has the burst to pull away from defenses when there’s daylight. He’s explosive and can be an impact runner who goes for big yards. Crockett’s hands are good enough to be a threat as a receiver.

    WEAKNESSES

    He should be more powerful as a runner given his size and the level of competition he faced. Too often he’s standing up through the hole and is too confident in his ability to pick up plus yards. That won’t fly in the NFL. His high level of wear and tear at North Dakota State may turn teams off, too. Crockett hasn’t had opportunities to prove himself against higher competition, so there’s an unknown quality to how he’ll translate to the next level. The lack of ability to fall forward or run over defenders is the main issue given his lack of outside runner speed.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ben Tate, free agent

    A big back with soft hands and good vision for a one-cut offense, Crockett is a lot like Ben Tate was before his regression in 2014.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     368 1,994 21


    FINAL GRADE: 5.20/9.00 (Quality Backup)

18. Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'9" 215 lbs 4.65s - 35.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A smooth, gliding running back with ideal size (5’9”, 215 lbs), Thomas Rawls has obvious talents. He shows good burst ability out of his cuts and can pull away from defenders in clearings. He’s quick and isn’t afraid to get physical at the point of attack. Rawls looks to finish runs, has good body lean and runs low to the ground to maximize his leverage. He has the leg drive to push tacklers for positive yards after contact. In the passing game, he’s a good route-runner with sharp cuts and nice feet, and he looks the ball in cleanly. If you focus purely on his football skills, Rawls looks like a productive NFL back.

    WEAKNESSES

    Rawls was suspended for two games after being arrested and charged with three felonies in a purse-stealing case. He received one year of probation and 104 hours of community service after pleading down to a lesser charge. He then missed the team’s bowl game for academic reasons. On the field, he missed time with a knee injury. Before 2014, Rawls was at Michigan and very lightly used. He has almost no wear and tear on his tires.

    PRO COMPARISON: Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams

    Short, but stocky. Quick, but with pull-away speed. Rawls’ on-field traits line up really well with how Zac Stacy was viewed coming into the NFL.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     210 1,103 10


    FINAL GRADE: 5.20/9.00 (Quality Backup)

17. Trey Williams, Texas A&M

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'7" 195 lbs 4.49s 6.84s 33.5"

    STRENGTHS

    Trey Williams is a scatback with impressive agility, foot speed and an elusiveness that makes him tough to bring down in the open field. A wild card for the A&M offense, Williams can beat you as a runner, receiver and return man. He has true speed to run away from defenders if he gets the corner and can rip off impact plays with ease. He has impressive vision in the open field, and he’ll find small lanes to run through. He reads blocks well at the second level and can make linebackers look silly in pursuit. Teams that put a priority on speed and versatility will like Williams' ability, and for them he can be an instant-impact chess piece.

     

    WEAKNESSES

    Williams was never the go-to back at Texas A&M and was moved around to find mismatches in its spread offense. Don’t ask him to run between the tackles. He loves going to the corner and looks there first post-handoff. Williams doesn’t have the play strength to break arm tackles and will go down when contacted. As a receiver or playing out of the slot, he’ll struggle against NFL-style press coverage.

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

    A small back with speed, hands and upside in the return game, there’s no great comparison for Trey Williams in the NFL, but he’s most similar to Ronnie Hillman.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     81 560 7


    FINAL GRADE: 5.20/9.00 (Quality Backup)

16. Zach Zenner, South Dakota State

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    Kelly Gorham/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'11" 223 lbs 4.60s 7.08s 41"

    STRENGTHS

    A workhorse with downhill running skills, Zach Zenner will flat-out run people over. He dominated the Missouri Valley conference and even showed up big against FBS competition Missouri and Nebraska when facing them. Zenner is a complete back with speed in the open field and good downhill momentum. He doesn’t have great burst, but his buildup speed is more than adequate. He’s balanced and has the core strength to maintain leverage and a forward body lean through contact. Zenner will help as a receiver and blocker out of the backfield, showing soft hands, good route properties and a hard nose for blocking.

    WEAKNESSES

    The huge production against non-NFL talent is a concern, as Zenner has really seen just two quality defenses in the last two seasons. He’s more of a one-speed runner who is all or nothing and can lose yards behind the line of scrimmage if a speedy edge player gets loose. Zenner won’t create his own lanes and relies purely on existing lanes to run through. That does make him an ideal zone-blocking scheme fit.

    PRO COMPARISON: Knowshon Moreno, free agent

    Zenner is a little bigger than Knowshon Moreno, but both are hard-charging downhill runners with good ability to help as receivers and blockers.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     337 2,019 22


    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Backup)

15. Matt Jones, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'2" 231 lbs 4.61s - 31.5"

    STRENGTHS

    Matt Jones is a huge back, and on the hoof he’s very impressive. Jones is a very good athlete, and quicker than you’d expect for 231 pounds. He is a crushing back between the tackles and runs with authority. He shows good body lean and will fall forward for plus yards, and he has shown himself capable of picking up yards after contact. Jones is an ideal “thunder” complement to a faster back already in place. He’ll break tackles and move the chains on tough runs. As a receiver, he wasn’t used much, but he has solid hands when thrown to.

    WEAKNESSES

    Jones is limited to being a power runner between the tackles and offers little outside the numbers. He leaves yards on the field and misses some openings as he hits inside holes. He hurts himself by running eyes down and not looking for cutback lanes and secondary holes. Jones isn’t a nimble, shaky back in space and will usually look for someone to run over instead of looking for space. Despite his size and traits, he was never a dominant SEC running back.

    PRO COMPARISON: Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks

    A hulking back with jaw-dropping traits, Jones is a clean comparison to Robert Turbin as a prospect and as an NFL player.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     166 817 6


    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Quality Backup)

14. Jeremy Langford, Michigan State

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'0" 208 lbs 4.42s 7.22s 34.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A two-year starter, Jeremy Langford started his Michigan State career at wide receiver and played a year of cornerback. That speed and ability as a receiver still shows up on film. Langford wowed in workouts, putting up a rare 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash among this year’s running backs. He has the speed to pull away and pick up big yards, and he makes plenty of impact runs. His footwork allows him to bounce outside the hashes, and from there he can accelerate and pick up plus yards. Langford can cut and jump-cut and shows good lateral quickness to make defenders miss. His talents as a receiver out of the backfield are obvious, and he has soft hands and showcases a good ability to impact the game on third down.

    WEAKNESSES

    Langford still runs like a receiver—both good and bad. He’s not a physical runner and is timid between the tackles. He will not break tackles and cannot be asked to be a tough-yardage runner. He’ll make tacklers miss to get extra yards, but he doesn’t run over any tacklers. If there’s a chance to bounce a run outside the tackles, Langford will do it. He loves to run to the corner and doesn’t have the same tenacity when he’s running between the tackles.

    PRO COMPARISON: Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles

    A fast back with good hands and a very solid build, Langford’s best-case scenario is a Ryan Mathews-like impact.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     276 1,522 22


    FINAL GRADE: 5.30/9.00 (Quality Backup)

13. Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'10" 212 lbs 4.53s 7.13s 36.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A former JUCO player with limited wear and tear, Cameron Artis-Payne tops the third tier of running back prospects. Despite limited experience at Auburn, Artis-Payne shows natural instincts and patience with the ball in his hands. He’s a finisher with good body lean and the ability to pick up yards after contact. He has choppy, light feet, and you can see him toe-tapping to anticipate and then cut away from defenders. He has the juice to pull away from defenders and can rip off longer runs.

    WEAKNESSES

    Artis-Payne will get caught waiting behind the line of scrimmage and loses yards too often in those situations. He looks like a power runner at 212 pounds, but he doesn’t put his head down and ram through holes or create his own rushing lanes. You will see Artis-Payne pick up short-yardage conversions, but tough yards are seen less. His starting speed is average, and NFL defenses will be able to contain him on the outside.

    PRO COMPARISON: Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles

    A good all-around back, Artis-Payne is comparable to Chris Polk the NFL player, but he is not viewed as favorably as a healthy Polk was coming out of Washington.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     303 1,608 13


    FINAL GRADE: 5.30/9.00 (Quality Backup)

12. Javorius "Buck" Allen, USC

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'0" 221 lbs 4.53s 6.96s 35.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A big runner with surprising hip flexibility and creative ability at the second level, Buck Allen has starter potential. Allen is a throwback workhorse who can take high carries and produce late in games, but he’s not “just” a power back. He has the agility to make defenders miss at the second level and can shake and juke his way through the hole. He’s a very good cutback runner tailor-made for a zone-blocking scheme and has the acceleration to pick up yards downhill. He is an asset as a receiver, and he showed both the traits and production (63 catches in two seasons) to prove himself as a capable option in the passing game.

    WEAKNESSES

    Allen is a one-cut runner, but he lacks great vision to find cutback lanes on the weak side. He’s not a very instinctive runner and will get caught staring down cutback lanes before he can get to them. He doesn’t run like he’s 221 pounds, and he goes down on first contact too often. He has to learn to finish runs and use his legs to drive for tough yards. Allen’s height and high-cut frame make him more of an upright runner, which opens his chest up to big hits.

    PRO COMPARISON: Alfred Morris, Washington

    A good one-cut back who should slide right into a zone scheme, Allen doesn’t have great speed, but like Alfred Morris, he could be a solid three-down producer.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     276 1,489 11


    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Future Starter)

11. Karlos Williams, Florida State

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'1" 230 lbs 4.48s 7.16s 33.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A huge athlete who started his career on defense at safety, Karlos Williams is a tough runner to bring down in the open field. With 4.48 speed, he’s able to accelerate and get a ton of momentum going behind his 230-pound frame. Williams, despite being a senior, is a raw player judged more on his upside. He’s a big, strong, one-cut runner with downhill production and the size-and-speed mix to threaten defenses as an inside or outside runner. He shows great burst—maybe the best in the draft—and gets squared to the line of scrimmage so fast, and then he uses his power to fight through holes. He’s a natural runner with instincts to find and feel pressure and running lanes. He would be an ideal fit in a zone-blocking scheme that lets him crash rushing lanes.

    WEAKNESSES

    Williams never fully developed into a top-tier running back at FSU. The tools are there, but he was overshadowed by Devonta Freeman and then Dalvin Cook. Williams is a big, upright runner who takes a ton of hits when he has the ball in his hands. He’s been at running back for just two years and never seemed to fully grasp the position. He played heavy in 2014, and that affected his quickness in and out of the hole. He was investigated for domestic battery but never charged, so his background has to be checked.

    PRO COMPARISON: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

    A rare big back with speed, it’s easy to see LeGarrette Blount when watching Karlos Williams and thinking about what type of back he could become.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     150 689 11


    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Quality Backup)

10. David Johnson, Northern Iowa

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'1" 224 lbs 4.50s 6.82s 41.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A huge running back with speed, strength, agility and hands, David Johnson could be a small-school steal in this draft. Johnson dominated the small-school scene, gaining over 1,000 yards rushing in three straight years. He is a monster with the ball in his hands and has the power to run over defenders—something he did often in the Missouri Valley Conference.

    He has the speed to turn the corner on outside runs and can be a threat to accelerate away from the second level on inside runs. Johnson falls forward at the end of his runs and looks for contact in the open field, showing balance and power to pick up plenty of yards after first contact. He’s a downhill runner who hits his top gear fast. He is also an accomplished receiver with soft hands and good routes. At the Senior Bowl he looked like a tight end until he started taking handoffs and returning kicks.

    WEAKNESSES

    Johnson is a high-cut, long strider who runs high and upright. You don’t see the twitchy, quick bursts from him in space to make tacklers miss. He loves to stomp hard on his inside foot and make cuts to the outside, but he stops his feet completely when he does this. That lets defenders catch up to him behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson likes the cutback and sometimes takes it when he doesn’t have to, leading to questions about his vision.

    PRO COMPARISON: Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Johnson is bigger than Charles Sims, but from a style and ability standpoint, they are very similar players.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     287 1,553 17


    FINAL GRADE: 5.49/9.00 (Future Starter)

9. Mike Davis, South Carolina

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'9" 217 lbs 4.61s 7.00s 34"

    STRENGTHS

    A workhorse back with SEC production, Mike Davis has NFL starter skills. He has NFL size, NFL patience and NFL balance. He churns for yards after contact and gets better as the game goes on. Davis is instinctive and aware with the ball in his hands, and he uses his feet well to create at the line of scrimmage. He has a nice stutter step and spin move and uses both at a pro level. He isn’t a burner, but he has pull-away speed when chased and will rip off long runs. He has the hands to be an asset on third down and has the size and vision to play right away in the NFL on passing downs thanks to his hands and blocking ability.

    WEAKNESSES

    Injuries kept Davis from matching his 2013 production, and there will be questions about his ability to hold up at the next level. Scouts have expressed a concern to us that South Carolina’s training staff doesn’t push “star players," and Davis’ injuries were a result of that. He has to prove he’s tough enough for the NFL based on that concern. Without true speed to run away from defenders or the agility to make people miss, Davis will take a lot of hits, and against bigger defenders in the NFL, he could struggle to stay healthy.

    PRO COMPARISON: Pierre Thomas, free agent

    A balanced, tough back between the tackles with hands and blocking skills, Davis is a younger Pierre Thomas when viewed as a prospect.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     199 982 9


    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Future Starter)

8. David Cobb, Minnesota

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'11" 229 lbs 4.81s - 38.5"

    STRENGTHS

    A Senior Bowl standout, David Cobb was the best running back in attendance and one of the most impressive players overall. Cobb won’t impress with raw speed, and an injured quad while running at the combine is why he turned in a 4.81-second run there. His pro day time of 4.58 (per sources) is much better. He is a power runner coming out of a power running scheme who picks up big yardage after contact. He’ll bang through tacklers and has the leg drive to pick up hard yards in the A and B gaps. Cobb is a downhill runner with patience and vision, and his balance and body lean are ideal for the NFL. He is a smooth, gliding runner with starter potential.

    WEAKNESSES

    The speed to pull away from defenders isn’t there, and Cobb won’t be favored by teams looking for a quick outside runner. He doesn’t make defenders miss, instead relying on power to run them over. He lacks the quickness in the hole to reset if the lane closes up on him and could be limited to small gains in the NFL without very good blocking. As a pass protector he needs work, but he has the size to be an impact once coached up.

    PRO COMPARISON: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

    A power runner with hard-charging ability between the tackles and good hands out of the backfield, Cobb is a Mark Ingram clone.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     314 1,626 13


    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Rookie Impact)

7. Jay Ajayi, Boise State

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'0" 221 lbs 4.57s 7.10s 39"

    STRENGTHS

    Only one player in FBS history has rushed for 1,800 yards and caught over 500 yards' worth of passes in one season. That player is Jay Ajayi. He’s obviously versatile, and at 6’0” and 221 pounds, Ajayi has the bulk to break tackles and be an asset up the middle of the field. He has the leg drive to break tackles and churn for tough yards between the tackles.

    On the edge you see his soccer background with quick, choppy, light feet and very good balance and body control. He’s a physical runner who finishes plays and falls forward for extra yards, but he also looks for contact and isn’t shy. Ajayi has the instincts to get small and slip through small holes, but he also has the power to blast through tight openings and pick up yards. He’s a truly versatile runner with inside and outside run traits. As a receiver he’ll produce, and he shows soft hands out of the backfield.

    WEAKNESSES

    Ajayi had one off-field run-in back in 2011, when he was arrested for stealing sweatpants during his redshirt season. On the field, he is a frenetic runner who could be very difficult to block for. He loves to bounce runs outside when the block is set up inside, which will frustrate NFL coaches and linemen. Ajayi doesn’t have great speed in the open field and can be caught from behind. If he tries to bounce to the corner too much in the NFL, he’ll get run down by backside defenders. He looks for contact, which could lead to a lot of hits in the pros.

    PRO COMPARISON: Stevan Ridley, New York Jets

    A starting-caliber back with power, vision and hands, Ajayi and Stevan Ridley are similar talents, with Ajayi having a higher upside.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     347 1,823 28


    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Rookie Impact)

6. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'9" 205 lbs 4.60s 6.79s 42.5"

    STRENGTHS

    Ameer Abdullah is a small, shifty back with great speed and the best hands of any back in the class. Abdullah plays much faster than his tested time (4.53 per scouts at his pro day) and jumps off the film as a creative runner. He is patient with good vision, and he’ll find the creases and seams to pick up yards. His cutback vision is very good, and in the open field he finds those same lanes to cross the field and pick up yards. Abdullah has the burst to blow past defenders in space and has good acceleration over timed speed. He has enough power to break arm tackles and run over defensive backs. He’s a hard-charging runner who gets upfield in a hurry.

    He contributes greatly as a receiver out of the backfield or in the slot. He has sure hands and can shake linebackers or safeties in man coverage. Abdullah is a super high-character player coaches love.

    WEAKNESSES

    Fumbles are a big issue when evaluating Abdullah. He fumbled 13 times at Nebraska, and with a smaller frame, it’s a legitimate concern. That lack of size is another issue, and teams looking for an inside runner will not like Abdullah early in the draft. He’s a pure outside runner who may be best as a third-down back—but even there he’s a big question mark because of his lack of bulking ability. He gives up ground to pass-rushers and doesn’t have the strength to cut off blitzers.

    PRO COMPARISON: Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     264 1,611 19


    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Rookie Impact)

5. T.J. Yeldon, Alabama

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'1" 226 lbs 4.61s 7.19s 36"

    STRENGTHS

    A big, upright runner who glides and slashes for yards, T.J. Yeldon fits the mold of the Alabama running back. Yeldon shows good awareness, good instincts and is a natural at finding rushing lanes between the tackles. He is able to create plus yardage on the go and makes quick decisions with the ball in his hands. He’s quicker than fast and light on his feet, but he finishes runs with power and has the bulk to run over defenders. Yeldon has good balance and body control and can make one cut and get upfield with burst. He reads blocks very well and anticipates openings. He is coming out of a pro-style offense with a pro-style blocking scheme, so he’s seen the same looks in college that he’ll see in the NFL. He has soft hands and can stay on the field as a receiver.

    WEAKNESSES

    Ball security is a tough spot for Yeldon, who fumbled 10 times in his career. He doesn’t have great top-end speed and won’t pull away from defenders at the second level. His size fools you into thinking he’ll be a bruising back, but that’s not what the film shows. He succumbs to tacklers too easily and has to be more of a leg-driver through contact. Yeldon should be a solid pass protector, but he’s not. The willingness is there, but he doesn’t play with a solid base or hand use.

    PRO COMPARISON: Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

    A big runner with soft hands and better-than-average burst, Yeldon looks like Carlos Hyde with a little less power.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     194 979 11


    FINAL GRADE: 6.20/9.00 (Rookie Impact)

4. Tevin Coleman, Indiana

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'11" 206 lbs -- -

    STRENGTHS

    If you run for over 2,000 yards in a single season at Indiana, scouts are going to notice. If you do that with a broken foot for half of the season, scouts are really going to take notice. Coleman can attack the defense as a runner, receiver and return man. He’s a true triple threat.

    Coleman is a north-south runner with good size (5’11”, 206 lbs) and enough power to run between the tackles. He has top-tier burst and can get to top speed in a few steps. He gets squared to the line and isn’t afraid of contact. He has inside vision and can produce on runs between the tackles. When asked to go outside the tackle box, Coleman has the speed and hips to turn the corner and then shake defenders in space. He finishes runs with power and has good body lean. He can also help as a receiver out of the backfield and flexed out to the slot, or he could come in and play as a return man.

    WEAKNESSES

    Coleman was a one-year wonder at Indiana and doesn’t have prolonged success. Injuries are a concern, as he missed three games in 2013 with a broken ankle and played through the foot injury in 2014. Coleman isn’t as exciting as the other top backs in this class. He’s a straightforward runner who hits the hole but doesn’t create a ton of extra yards. He is not patient, and on stretch plays he’ll slam into the line instead of waiting for an opening.

    PRO COMPARISON: C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints

    Coleman is more powerful and violent than C.J. Spiller, but the hands and speed are very similar.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     270 2,036 15


    FINAL GRADE: 6.45/9.00 (Rookie Starter)

3. Duke Johnson, Miami (Fla.)

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    David Goldman/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     5'9" 207 lbs 4.54s - 33.5"

    STRENGTHS

    The all-time rushing leader at the University of Miami, Duke Johnson accomplished much in his three years. A scatback early in his career, Johnson added bulk and transformed himself into a three-down back with power, balance and vision. He has the burst to make plays off the snap. He quickly gets upfield and has the second gear to run away from defenses. He’s a twitchy, light-footed player who can shake tacklers at the line of scrimmage and has the hips to both cut and juke in the open field.

    Johnson has great balance and can execute a jump cut and then explode down field for big gains. He’s an ideal one-cut runner with huge potential in a zone-blocking scheme. He can produce as a downhill runner, too, and brings value as a receiver and return man. Despite being a speed back, he can break tackles in the open field.

    WEAKNESSES

    Johnson will be a scheme-specific runner, as he doesn’t offer inside running skills. His vision between the tackles is just average, and he has a habit of staring down cutback lanes. As a pass protector, he’s not giving you much right away and mistimes cut blocks. Johnson has been banged up over the last two seasons and has to convince that his frame can hold up to NFL punishment.

    PRO COMPARISON: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

    A shifty, agile back with good hands and great balance, Johnson has the same skill set as LeSean McCoy, but don’t expect that type of production. That’s a best-case scenario.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     242 1,652 10


    FINAL GRADE: 6.49/9.00 (Rookie Starter)

2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'1" 215 lbs 4.52s 7.04s 35"

    STRENGTHS

    A productive back with ideal size and physical ability, Melvin Gordon crushed Big 10 defenses for over 2,500 yards in 2014 and over 4,900 yards in his career. Gordon is built like a linebacker with thick legs and a chiseled physique. At 6’1” and 215 pounds, he’s fast, agile and explosive.

    The best asset to Gordon’s game is his vision. He finds cutback lanes and knows how to attack creases and seams to get yards. He has subtle footwork, but it’s exceptional, and it allows him to cut on a dime and then get his shoulders squared to the line of scrimmage. He can be a stretch zone runner or a simple man-blocking power runner. He’s shifty enough in the open field to make tacklers miss and has enough speed to pull away for huge gains.

    WEAKNESSES

    Gordon has to beat the stigma that Wisconsin backs haven’t produced in the NFL. The holes at Wisconsin (especially against Nebraska) were huge, and he will have to adjust to smaller creases in the pros. As a receiver he’s not been used much (only 22 catches total, and 19 of those came in ‘14) and was a non-factor as a pass protector. Gordon has a habit of stopping his feet behind the line of scrimmage and waiting for north-south holes to come open. That won’t work in the NFL against faster, more disciplined defenses, and it showed when he was held to no gain or a loss at Wisconsin when he tried to take runs outside too often. Fumbles are a concern here, as he put the ball on the ground six times in his last five games.

    PRO COMPARISON: DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles

    A strong running back with north-south power and enough shake to make defenders miss in the open field, Gordon has the upside of DeMarco Murray, and they’re similar athletes.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     343 2,587 29


    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Rookie Starter)

1. Todd Gurley, Georgia

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press
    HeightWeight40 TimeThree-ConeVertical Jump
     6'1" 222 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    Todd Gurley can do it all. He’s big, fast, agile, can catch the ball and even scored as a kick returner. Coming out of a running back factory, Gurley broke Georgia freshman records with 17 rushing touchdowns and tied Herschel Walker as the only freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards. He was productive every year he was on the field, beating defenses with speed and power.

    Gurley is a tank in his lower body and has the leg drive to run through and over defenders. His tree-trunk thighs make it tough for defenders to wrap him up, and when they go low on his legs, he’ll drive his knee into their facemask. He is also elusive, showing the hips and feet to make tacklers miss in the open field. He can then turn on the jets and accelerate away for big gains. He’s strong after contact and has some Marshawn Lynch to his game in that area.

    WEAKNESSES

    A torn ACL against Auburn kept Gurley out for the second half of the season and has prevented him from working out pre-draft. He was oft-injured at Georgia, and teams must get comfortable with his medicals. While he was out, backup Nick Chubb matched his production in the offense, leading to questions about Gurley being a product of the system.

    PRO COMPARISON: Shaun Alexander, former player

    There is no great comparison for Gurley, who is a mix of Eddie George and Shaun Alexander, but his ability to score as a runner, receiver and return man at 220-plus pounds reminds of Alexander at Alabama.

    2014 STATISTICS

    Rushing Attempts        Rushing Yards       Touchdowns
     123 911 9


    FINAL GRADE: 7.30/9.00 (Top-15 Player Potential)