1. Eddie Lacy – Alabama – 5’10”, 231 lbs, 31” ArmL, 9.5” HndS
Solid between the tackle back with solid hands in the receiving game. Exhibits great lower and upper body strength. Follows his blocks extremely well, shows great change of pace out of the backfield. Can hesitate, follow his blocks and accelerate through the running lanes on one play than explode off the snap the next. He exhibits an excellent understanding of the game and doesn’t make mistakes. He will change direction if he has to, but you will rarely see him cutback for a loss or dance in the backfield if he can get three to four yards plowing into a crease. Very solid at picking up blitzers, but I’d like to see him use his hands more to redirect when he’s blocking. He tends to throw a shoulder or cut block vs. placing his hands and driving an opponent away from the quarterback. Overall, Eddie Lacy is a very solid RB that’s capable of being a productive starter in the NFL on day one.
2. Montee Ball – Wisconsin – 5’11”, 215 lbs, 40Yd:
Ball exhibits excellent strength, balance, explosion and vision, but it seems he tries to do a little too much at times. There are times when it’s smarter to fall forward and get the ball down than it is to break the tackle and risk fumbling. Ball always seems to want that extra inch, no matter what the situation is. While he exhibits great explosion and vision, he seems to be more of a one speed guy in the backfield. Ball has strong hands for receiving, but he doesn’t create separation on his routes or match up well in coverage. He shows excellent upper body strength, great use of hands and is a solid blocker that redirects his man, but he misses assignments when defenses throw more exotic blitz packages at him. Extremely good fundamental blocking skills though. Durability could be an issue due to the wear and tear on his body, but that’s not something I’m overly concerned about with him. He’s going to be in the league for 5 years or more and he’s capable of starting for an NFL team on day one if a team is weak at RB.
3. Andre Ellington – Clemson – 5’9”, 199 lbs, 31” ArmL, 9.37 HndS
4.61 40YD, 34” Vert, 122” BrJp
Doesn’t exhibit great upper body strength or lower body strength, but he does exhibit adequate strength in both areas for his size and position. Can do all the things required of an every down back in the NFL. A very patient runner with great vision and acceleration, but he doesn’t exhibit an explosive first step or explode off his plant and he gets too high coming out of his breaks. He makes nice cuts, follows his blocks extremely well, he shows great acceleration through the running lanes and he never goes backwards, but he stutters and waits too long for his running lanes to open at times, resulting in tackles for losses. Skeptical of him as a short yardage back. Awesome in pass protection. Recognizes his assignments well, uses his hands well to engage, makes great chop blocks when necessary, but doesn’t rely on it and stays with his assignments. Might be, technically, the best pass blocking RB in the draft. Ellington exhibits strong hands, he catches well and he’s a threat after the catch; but he needs work on creating separation with his route running and he tends to wait for the ball to come to him vs. attacking the ball.
4. Kerwynn Williams – Utah St – 5’8”, 195 lbs., 29.75” ArmL, 9.12” HndS
4.48 40YD, 17BnRp, 35” Vert, 118” BrJp, 7.15 ThCD, 4.15 ShSh, 12.04 LoSh
Williams exhibits good vision and patience. He lets the play develop and accelerates through the running lanes nicely, but he doesn’t exhibit that elite explosive power backs like MJD, Darren Sproles or even Jaquizz Rogers have. He has solid hands for receiving, a strong upper body and good balance, but he doesn’t use his legs to drive a defender back for the extra yard or two. Doesn’t use his height to his advantage as much as he could because he lets his pad level get too high when he’s running the ball. He exhibits good elusiveness, good agility and enough speed to take it to the house, but he often gets caught trying to beat defenders to the outside when he should cut inside and take the 4-5 yard gain. Will be a solid scatback type in the NFL, but he needs to develop more lower body drive, run at a lower pad level and be more physical between the tackles if he wants to be an every-down back in the NFL. Deceptively stout as a pass protector for his size and excellent in the return game.
5. Joseph Randle – Oklahoma St. – 6’0”, 204 lbs, 31.75” ArmL, 8.75” HndS
Great balance, nice change of direction and deceptive strength. Doesn’t appear to be explosive and doesn’t appear to have great acceleration, but he’s wiry, tough and has the ability to stay on his feet after contact has been made. He breaks arm tackles extremely well, shows great balance to shake off a tackle and uses the stiffarm well, but the downside to his running style is that he gets too upright at times and while he exhibits very strong hands, he lets the ball hang out at times and increases the chances of it being stripped. Fumbling could be an issue for him when he starts facing NFL competition. Very good hand-eye coordination and ball tracking. He attacks the ball and snatches it out of the air away from his body, regularly shows the ability to bring a ball in from it’s highest point with his fingers, gets turned upfield quickly and shows nice elusiveness after the catch. Adequate as a pass blocker. Recognizes his assignment well and attacks his assignment, but he relies on chop blocks too much and watches a player’s hips too much. He’ll have problems blocking players that are active with their hands in the NFL, unless he learns to keep his head up and be more active with his.
6. Kenjon Barner – Oregon – 5’09”, 196 lbs., 29.67” ArmL, 9.12 HndS
4.52 40YD, 20 BnRp, 35.5” Vert, 122” BrJp, 6.87 ThCD, 4.20 ShSh, 11.33 LoSh
Barner is a stout RB with superb quickness, change of direction ability and breakaway speed; but he doesn’t play with a low center of gravity, he gets too upright and often loses battles in the trenches due to poor leverage. He doesn’t squat to sustain balance and explosion when he changes direction and doesn’t keep a wide base to maintain balance through contact. Misses a lot of inside cuts because he relies on beating the opponent to the outside too much. This will fail most of the time in the NFL. The field is narrower and the players are faster. He’s extremely reliable as a receiver and he’s consistently a threat after the catch, but he tends to catch the ball with his body and he doesn’t really attack the ball. Makes solid cut blocks, but he tends to get easily beaten when he uses his hands to block because he doesn’t play with leverage. I see Barner being a solid scatback / return man in the NFL; but he needs to play at a lower pad level and play with much better leverage if he wants to be a starting back in the NFL.
7. Stepfon Taylor – Stanford – 5’09”, 214 lbs, 30.12” ArmL, 8.67” HndS
4.76 40YD, 17 BnRp, 30” Vert, 110” BrJp, 7.13 ThCD, 4.50 ShSH, 12.06 LoSh
While Taylor doesn’t exhibit great acceleration or change of direction, he does exhibit great power, great balance and he’s explosive off the snap. It almost always takes more than one tackler to bring him down. While he’s explosive off the snap and he plays at a great pad level, he doesn’t show great patience or vision. He often runs into the back of his blockers and relies on moving a pile versus looking for the cutback. Misses a lot of bigger runs due to his assignment style running. He displays excellent hands for receiving, but he doesn’t have enough acceleration or quickness to create separation with a route. Most of his catches are programmed screen passes or checkdown passes to him in a soft spot against zone coverages. He won’t be a major threat with the ball after the catch against NFL competition in my opinion. While Taylor might not have great measurables or exhibit great speed and agility, he is probably the most NFL ready RB in the draft.
8. Johnathan Franklin – UCLA – 5’10”, 205 lbs, 30” ArmL, 9.37” HndS
4.49 40YD, 18BnRp, 31.5” Vert, 115” BrJp, 6.89 ThCD, 4.31 ShSh, 11.33 LoSh
Franklin is a one cut runner that displays excellent top-end speed, balance and upper body strength. He’s patient, he follows his blockers well and he shows decent acceleration, but he’s not explosive off the snap, he misses a lot of easy cutback opportunities and gets caught in the backfield at times waiting for a lane to open, instead of hitting the gap. He doesn’t show that explosive first step off the plant when he decides to make his cut. He shakes off upper body tackle attempts well and has a nice stiff-arm, but he tends to trip up and go down easily when players get an arm on his lower extremities. While he does a nice job of twisting through tackles for extra yards, he doesn’t show the leg drive to move a pile on short yardage situations. He protects the ball well when in traffic, but he doesn’t appear to have a naturally strong grip on the ball and gets careless with it in the open-field. Displays excellent hands for receiving and catches the ball away from his body, but he doesn’t attack the ball or snatch the ball out of the air with authority. Can be a threat running routes, but he doesn’t display the initial explosion to be a major threat after the catch if he has to sit down for the catch. Pass protection skills need work. Doesn’t dip and keep his head up, often puts his head down and lunges for the chop block, doesn’t use his hands well in pass protection and lets his assignments slide off because he doesn’t stay with his assignment.
9. Dennis Johnson – Arkansas – 5’09” 213 lbs.
Great acceleration, power, balance and change of direction. Explosive off the snap with good vision, capable of moving a pile with his leg drive and breaking tackles. Accelerates through the running lanes nicely and shows good elusiveness, but he doesn’t possess the top-end speed to pull away from the faster defenders in the NFL. He’s a threat after the catch in the passing game, displays very nice explosion off the plant when he has to sit down for the catch and good vision in the open field. Needs to develop more consistency catching the ball. He’s willing in pass protection and exhibits relatively solid pass blocking skills. He will attack his assignments, but sometimes whiffs on a cut block because he gets caught ducking his head. While that’s an issue for him, he doesn’t rely on chop blocks and he uses his power well to stand up defenders with good hand placement when he decides to go heads up on a pass rusher in pass protection.
10. Zach Line – SMU – 6’1”, 232 lbs, 30.75” ArmL, 8.75” HndS
4.77 40YD, 26BnRp, 30.5” Vert, 111” BrJp,
Great between the tackle back that explodes through running lanes with power and acceleration. While he doesn’t possess elite speed on paper, he has absolutely great vision and he exhibits enough explosion and quickness to break off some big runs outside the tackle if he has to. Plays much faster than he times. It always takes two or more defenders to bring him down. Reacts to the running lanes that open extremely well and almost always hits the appropriate cutback lane when he needs to. Does a great job of protecting the ball with fundamentals, but fumbles may be an issue for him due to his running style and his hands. He doesn’t seem to have a great grip with his hands, hence him being a liability as a receiving weapon. Excellent in pass protection, but I’d like to see him attack his assignments more. He tends to set back and wait to catch a defender in pass protection rather than stepping up to neutralize a defender, so the QB has a better pocket to work with. Bell might’ve timed better than Line on paper, but Zach Line is the more explosive and powerful running back out of the two due to the pad level he plays at and his use of leverage. He’s a very solid back in the trenches.
11. Christine Michael – Texas A&M – 5’11”, 220 lbs, 31.5” ArmL, 9.37” HndS
4.54 40YD, 27BnRp, 43” Vert, 125” BrJp, 6.69 ThCD, 4.02 ShSh, 11.56 LoSh
Christine Michael is a solid back that exhibits good vision, good balance, great strength, good explosion and nice acceleration. He can run inside or outside, he breaks arm tackles, he runs faster than he times and he’s strong enough to move a pile in short yardage situations. While he displays a lot of the explosion and agility you like to see in a back; he doesn’t display elite quickness or change of direction. Doesn’t cut hard to change direction and seems to rely more on wiggling by an opponent than eluding the opponent. Displays adequate hands for receiving and runs nice routes, but he needs to attack the ball more. Gets careless with the ball at times and let’s the ball hang loose when going through traffic. Plays at a great pad level and exhibits a nice combination of size and strength to be an effective pass blocker, but he needs to show he’s willing. Doesn’t seem to block with any enthusiasm or intent and allows opponents to pressure the pocket by not attacking his assignment with authority. Doesn’t stay with his assignments and often let’s his man loose after he makes initial contact. Durability is a major concern.
12. Giovani Bernard – North Carolina – 5’8”, 202 lbs, 28” ArmL, 9.37” HndS
4.53 40YD, 19 BnRp, 33.5” Vert, 122” BrJp, 6.91 ThCD, 4.12 ShSh, 11.41 LoSh
Elusive with great balance and great hands, but he doesn’t use his hands to snatch the ball and lets the ball fall into his body a lot. While he’s quick with great instincts, he doesn’t exhibit the elite acceleration and top-end speed like a Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, Darren McFadden or Maurice Jones Drew does. Even though he exhibits solid power and balance in his lower legs to stay on his feet and keep fighting for yards, he doesn’t exhibit the upper body strength and force to move an opponent backwards and he bounces off more than he actually breaks through a tackle. His lack of upper body strength and size also make him a liability in pass protection. He doesn’t exhibit an ability to redirect a blitzer and his cut blocks are often ineffective against pass rushers with good balance and active hands. He’s more of an obstacle than a blocker in pass protection. He’s a dangerous return man, but he’s a liability on punt returns. He refuses to fair catch when he should and he always looks for the big play vs. making the right play.
13. Knile Davis – Arkansas – 5’10”, 227 lbs, 29.75” ArmL, 8.62” HndS
4.37 40YD, 31BnRp, 33.5” Vert, 121” BrJp, 6.96 ThCD, 4.38 ShSh
A prototype sized back with great acceleration, elite top-end speed and excellent vision, but durability is an issue and prior injuries have caused him to lose a step. While he shows great acceleration through the running lanes and patience to let his blocks set up; he’s not explosive off the snap or coming out of his breaks like he was prior to his ankle injury and he looks tentative running. Shows some elusiveness and runs at a low pad level that allows him to carry tacklers for extra yards, but he often doesn’t keep his legs driving to break through tackles, he doesn’t have elite change of direction ability and he seems to go down easily if somebody gets and arm on his legs. Ball security is a major issue for Davis. He has to develop a better grip on the ball and do a better job of protecting the ball. He often let’s the ball hang away from his body and doesn’t use both hands to secure the ball going through traffic. Displays decent receiving ability and he’s a threat to take it to the house if he gets the ball in stride, but he tends to wait for the ball to come to him and catches with his body a lot. Can make nice gains after the catch if he gets space to work with, but he doesn’t get turned upfield quickly after the catch and he doesn’t have that explosive first step that creates missed tackles after the catch. His pass blocking ability is an unknown.
14. Le’Veon Bell – Michigan State – 6’2”, 245 lbs, 31.5” ArmL, 9.67” HndS
4.60 40YD, 24 BnRp, 31.5” Vert, 118” BrJp, 6.75 ThCD, 4.24 ShSh
Big back with great agility and balance for his size. Has the size, power and pad level to carry a pile for a first down in short yardage situations, but he doesn’t exhibit great explosion off the snap and seems to lumber through his running lanes vs. exploding through a gap or accelerating to beat a defender to the outside. Hesitates too much in the backfield and waits for cutbacks when he should be hitting a hole hard at times. While he plays at a good pad level and displays strong hands between the tackles, he gets too upright in space and gets careless with the ball. His ability to catch the ball is questionable and he needs to work on developing better hand placement in pass protection. He recognizes his assignment and attacks his assignment, but his hand placement and jolt doesn’t neutralize his opponent and his opponent is able to get by with a second move quite often.