Ground and Pound: Running Back Prospects in the NFL Draft

Ron Johnson@TLCCaptainSenior Writer IFebruary 16, 2008

Though the draft isn't here yet, it's still good to know which teams need to upgrade their ground game and which backs need to hope for a decent miracle on Draft Day.

Here are six backs who can make it happen for any team...

Darren McFadden, Arkansas: Twice so close. Twice the runner up. Deja vu could happen on draft day.

Strengths: Acceleration and Durability

Not since LT No. 2 has a running back gotten so much hype and for all the right reasons. Darren McFadden is a naturally aggressive runner and has enough break neck speed to make things happen on the field for any team. Denver could be foaming at the mouth at the possibility of having D-Mac in their backfield. Shanahan's greatest achievement is not winning the Super Bowl twice, but producing strong, great running backs. Expect the Broncos to trade up for a shot at McFadden, but even if they don't get him, they could land his partner in crime, Felix Jones.

Weakness: Tackle Friendly

Simply put, with all the speed and agility that McFadden has, he can be stopped and stopped hard. He is not as elusive as some scouts would have liked, but he is still a damn good guy to have on your team. He can make things happen no matter where he is on the field. If he can be a little quicker on his cuts and jukes, he can make things happen a lot sooner for the offense.

Spotlight Teams: Miami, Atlanta, Oakland, Denver, Houston, NY Jets, Buffalo, Seattle

Felix Jones, Arkansas: The Robin to Arkansas' Batman. Sidekick ready to go solo.

Strengths: Durability and Elusiveness

What McFadden lacks in elusiveness, Jones more than makes up for. Despite McFadden getting all the hype, Mr. Jones has made teams pay for ignoring him and not giving enough respect to the Wild Hog offense. While teams focused on his partner, he was sprinting towards the end zone. A possible late first rounder, Jones would fit in well with Gary Kubiak's Texans offense.

Weakness: Invisibility

Though he made a lot of noise on the field this season, he was still considered an enigma because he was being looked at as a third and short kind of back. But because Jones wasn't used as much as McFadden last season, he may not get picked as high as he hopes.

Spotlight Teams: Houston, Kansas City, Denver, Detroit, Chicago, Arizona

Mike Hart, Michigan: No longer silent, but still just as deadly.

Strengths: Elusiveness and Second Gear

At full strength, Mike Hart is truly the excellence of execution in the Michigan offense. He practically made sure that the Wolverines didn't lose another game, and despite the way their season opened, Hart and his fellow seniors made sure that went out with a bang. What better way than running up, over, and around the defending national champions? Has a great second gear and makes a great receiving running back.

Weakness: Timing

Despite having a great second gear, Hart doesn't hit the holes as quick as most coaches like. But there are some things that can be improved with time. Hart has to let the blockers do their job or he'll be losing yards instead of gaining them. He has the attitude of a man determined for success. He just has to get his numbers there as well. Any team would do good to have a guy with eyes in the back of his head.

Spotlight Teams: Miami, Seattle, Arizona, Indianapolis, San Diego

Justin Forsett, California: Size isn't everything. And he's living proof.

Strengths: Patience

Forsett is a patient runner. He waits for opportunities to come to him, and that's just what today's running back needs to have. If patience is a virtue, Forsett is a sure winner in that one. He can be practically invisible because one minute he can be behind blockers and the next second he is in the end zone pulling his best Ocho Cinco impression.

Weakness: Size

His durability will be a minor concern because of his size. He is the smallest running back in this draft, and some teams may pass on him simply because of that. Despite all of that, he still has enough in the tank to make things happen on the field. Despite not being the biggest guy on the field, he has a lot of heart and that can get him as close to the goal line as his legs will take him.

Spotlight Teams: Indianapolis, San Diego, St. Louis, Baltimore, New England

Matt Forte, Tulane: Deception is Matt's Forte.

Strengths: Deception

Forte isn't getting as much hype as he deserves. But this kid has great vision, can attack oppositions with force, and can be a great receiving back for quarterbacks. Denver has a guy named Jay Cutler who could use another receiver. He will find a way to get positive yards and keep a drive alive on third and short.

Weakness: Exposure

Being a member of Tulane's football team isn't as good as it looks. Forte had his best day at the Senior Bowl, and if he made enough noise, that will ensure that he gets picked either late in the first round or early in the second round.

Spotlight Teams: Denver, St. Louis, Arizona, New England, Miami, Seattle, Tennessee

Tony Temple, Missouri: Armed and Dangerous.

Strengths: Speed and Agility

Tony Temple showed why he is so dangerous against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Despite Missouri's dream of a national championship stopped by Oklahoma, Temple treated the Hogs like tackling dummies. He has great speed, good cuts and jukes, and he can make things happen with so little. Need a guy to convert it into a first down or touchdown? Temple's the guy for the job.

Weakness: Injury Prone

Temple missed a couple of games last season with an injury, but came back at the perfect time. Problem is that may have hurt his chances of a top 15 draft pick. If he becomes prone to injury during his NFL career, he won't last long. But while he is in the NFL, it would do him some good to show why he is such a dangerous back.

Spotlight Teams: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Carolina 

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