NFL Draft Preview: Running Back
The running backs available in the 2011 NFL Draft are talented and diverse. This is the deepest class in recent memory. Teams are going to two-back rotations more often and have specialized packages (wildcat) to get certain players the ball. In my opinion, there is going to be tons of value in the middle of the draft, rounds 3, 4, and 5.
Below are the top RBs in the 2011 Draft along with stats and analysis, each player’s name is linked to a video of their highlights.
Stats: Junior from Flint, MI. 5’9 215. Won the 2009 Heismann. 572-3261 42 TDs for his career. 6.1 ypc in ’09, 5.5 in ’10. Sixty career receptions.
Analysis: Runs with patience and prods the hole. He is often compared to Emmitt Smith. Excellent pad level and always falls forward. He can explode for the first down or big play. Durability issues are somewhat of a concern after injuries slowed the start and end of his junior year. Cowboys or Dolphins could be two good fits early in Round One.
Stats: Red-shirt Soph. 293-1655, 21 TDs in 2009, 110-447, 9 TDs in ’10 battling hamstring injury.
Analysis: Compact runner who runs angry with good quickness when healthy. He has good hands despite only catching 26 passes in less than 2 seasons. Williams shows great vision and could be a great zone back. Redskins and Bengals could make sense in Round Two. This guy still has the chance to be a franchise back in my opinion.
Stats: Senior. 298-1585, 19 TD in 2010; 247-1265, 11 TDs in 2009. 6’0 230 originally from FL. 25 catches for 257 his junior year.
Analysis: Great size and lateral agility, built similar to Darren McFadden. Thomas was pretty much a one-man show in college. Like McFadden, he is a great receiver out of the backfield who shows good vision. On the downside, runs a little high sometimes and a hamstring injury has prevented him from working out with scouts. Pro Day is April 5th.
Stats: Junior from Champaign. Rushing: 281-1697,17 TDs in 2010 and averaged 6.8 ypc in ’09 on 108 carries.
Analysis: 2010 All-American who did not fumble all season. Excellent combination of power and burst. Weighs 230 but great change of direction. Charlie Casserly compared him to Steven Jackson. Inside runner who leans forward and cuts well. Likely to be the second back off the board.
Stats: in 2010, 271-1548 and 16 TDs. Two time consensus All-American. 22 year old Senior who has carried over 700 times for 4181 yards despite injuries.
Analysis: He is an all-purpose back. Small but thick who isn’t as big as a Rice or MJD (5’7 195), but has a full compliment of skills. He can run inside and out, has good hands coming out of the backfield, and most importantly for teams that want to play him extensively year one, he is a solid pass protector.
Stats: Senior from LV, A contributor from day one at Oklahoma. In 2010, 282-1214 15 TD and 71 receptions for nearly 600 yards.759-3685 and 50 for career.
Analysis: Like Thomas he compares favorably to Darren McFadden. Elite speed, long strider but a tendency to run high. Makes sharp cuts and has good hands which will make him a dynamic third down back in the NFL.
Stats: Ridic 334 for nearly 1700 yards in 2010 and 14 TDs in 2010.
Analysis: Ran impressively at the Combine, which was important to show he does have the speed and not that he was burning inferior competition (4.44). Shouldered much of the load this season for a Connecticut team that exceeded expectations. Great agility, projected 3rd-4th rounder.
Stats: Junior ran it 231 times for 1167 yards and 13 touchdowns. Complimented Best in 2009, 183-952.
Analysis: This guy can fly. He is shifty, but once he gets by….it’s goodbye with his top-end speed. Runner, receiver, and returned. One of those guys who could be a steal if falls out of third round.
Stats: Back to back 1000 yard seasons at a struggling Syracuse program is impressive, 5.3 ypc in 2010.
Analysis: Great size (5’10-215) and burst, power runner. Wasn’t even on my radar until the end of the season. Great showing in the Pinstripe Bowl and performed well in the East-West Shrine Game.
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