It's rare that a prospect like Trent Richardson comes along in the draft, and elite running back prospects will likely continue to be a rarity come draft day. Running backs don't comment Top 20 picks as much as they used to, and after Richardson goes someplace in the Top 6 picks (most likely), there will be a drop off until late round one.
|Next 5 Series|
|Next 5 QBs|
1. Chris Polk, Washington
For whatever reason, Polk's Senior Bowl week has dropped him on running back draft boards far more than he probably should have based on what I've heard/seen on the internet, but I don't think it's the same feeling in the NFL. Polk has fantastic vision through the hole, plays behind his pads and can use his strength well, and has loads of experience in pass catching and blocking. His completeness as a back make him worthy of a late first rounder to me, though his value seems to be resting a round later.
2. Doug Martin, Boise State
Now the favorite to be the second running back taken, Martin has a completeness as a runner in his game to be a fit for each type of running scheme, has the size to last in the NFL, and has flashed both big play ability as well as 3rd down ability at Boise State and in workouts. He could land in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and New York (Giants) in round one.
3. Bernard Pierce, Temple
Few have Pierce rated as highly as I do, but after watching his progression over his career as well as how he maximized playing with an offensive line that really struggled to downfield block. To me, he has the best balance, in hole vision, and body control for a running back in this entire class, and has an Arian Foster-type impact in a zone blocking scheme. A lack of developed 3rd down ability and injury concerns throughout his career will push him likely out of the Top 64, but to me, he's worth a shot early in the draft.
4. Lamar Miller, Miami (FL)
An explosive playmaker who surely has big play ability and some fantastic change of direction, Miller doesn't seem to have the in traffic vision nor the size to be an every-down, 20+ carry a game runner in the NFL for the long term. His big play ability and natural talent, however, means that in today's NFL where most teams have 2-3 running backs in a platoon situation, he still has value early in the second round.
5. David Wilson, Virginia Tech
While I'm not a huge fan of Wilson, he does flash some impressive big play ability and has near elite explosiveness when he has a seam. Wilson shows far too much indecisiveness at times up and through the hole, and big-play seeks more than he should, something that few running backs can do in a faster NFL. He has the explosiveness and power behind his pads to maybe an ideal one-cut runner in the NFL, but I'd rather a more complete, balanced, and vision based runner like Isaiah Pead, though it seems Wilson could go as early as Top 50.
Others to Watch: Isaiah Pead (Cincinnati), LaMichael James (Oregon), Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)
Eric Galko is a contributing NFL scout for Patriots Insider at Scout.com.
Eric Galko is the Owner, Director of Scouting of Optimum Scouting and lead editor for OptimumScouting.com. He has been scouting college football for eight years, and for pro teams and other sports professionals for the last four years. Eric is also a member of the FWAA.
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