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NFL Draft Positional Rankings: Running Backs

Next up in the series of positional rankings is running backs. The Packers should look to address the position one at some point in the draft with Eddie Lacy entering a contract year and James Starks getting up there in age. I've only ranked players I feel comfortable enough with to form a solid opinion/analysis on. It would be disingenuous to rank players I don't have a strong opinion on.

Previous positional rankings:

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nfl-draft-positional-rankings-quarterbacks 

Running Backs:

1.       Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio St.- Ezekiel Elliot is one of the best overall running back prospects to come out in a while. At 5’11 225lbs he has an ideal frame for a running back. “Zeke” has the agility and breakaway speed to make him a home run threat. He is impressive as a pass protector and run blocker which will only bode well as teams will view him a complete 3 down running back. He is developing as a pass catcher/route runner but his ability to find lanes, and the acceleration through them is elite.

2.       CJ Prosise, RB, Notre Dame- Rankings fluctuate quite a bit on Prosise as he’s only played the position full time for a year. His natural talent was evident after being thrust into the starting role. He is tough to bring down, runs through contact, and always seems to fall forward for positive yards. He has three down ability with decent hands as a pass catcher and can break off big runs. At 6’ 220lbs Prosise has the build to be the workhorse for a team.

3.       Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama- An absolute monster at 6’2 247lbs Henry is one of the most physically intimidating running backs who’s come out in a long time. Henry doesn’t have great agility to make defenders miss but he has decent vision and when he gets some daylight he gets up to top speed he becomes near impossible to bring down. Henry will need to go to a team with a good offensive line as he isn’t going to create much for himself but if in the right situation he could be a pro bowler.

4.       Kenneth Dixon, RB Louisiana Tech- Dixon is a jack of all trades. He’s equally adept at catching the ball as he is running in between the tackles. He has good lower body strength and runs behind his pads. At 5’10” 215lbs he has a solid build to take a bulk of carries for a team. Dixon found the end zone 26 times last season despite missing two games. Dixon doesn’t have the long speed of some other premier running back prospects but he does everything really well.

5.       Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas- Collins is a big back at 5’10” 217lbs and has great patience and vision as a runner. Collins had some pretty big holes to run through in college but he hit them hard and was surprisingly elusive while in the open field. He didn’t time real fast but he broke off quite a few big runs while in college. Collins has the chance to be a starter for some team but he’ll need a good offensive line in front of him to find success early.

6.       Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas- Williams missed the 2015 season with a foot injury but he is a dynamic ball carrier when healthy. The 5’11” 220lb running back has shifty feet and can bounce runs outside or work in between the tackles.

7.       Devontae Booker, RB Utah- The 5’11” 219lb running back is one of the more versatile backs in the draft. He runs with good pad level and can pick up tough yards. He doesn’t have top end speed to break long runs but can make defenders miss at the 2nd level.

8.       Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA- Perkins is one of the most elusive runners in the open field. At 5’10” 208lbs Perkins doesn’t bring much between the tackles, but he is a dangerous runner and pass catcher when given some room. He could function as a 3rd down running back right away.

9.       Kenyan Drake, RB Alabama- Drake is more of the unheralded running backs from Alabama but the 6’1” 210lbs running back is a very good open field runner. Drake brings versatility with his ability to return kicks at a high level. He could be a very good change of pace running back in the NFL.

10.   Daniel Lasco, RB, California- Lasco has battled injuries during his time at California but the 6’ 2019lb running back is an incredibly athletic and talented player. Lasco can catch the football out of the backfield and has the ability to take runs to the house.

11.   Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana- The big 6’ 230lb back from Indiana runs with good vision and can find creases to gain positive yards. He has an upright running style that leads to him taking some good shots. Howard would be an ideal change of pace back at the next level.

12.   Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose St.- Ervin is one of the most electric backs in the country and can score any time he touches the ball. The 5’10” 192lb running back is a bit undersized but is lightning fast making cuts and accelerating. Ervin should find his way on the field with special teams early and could develop into a 3rd down running back.

13.   Marshaun Coprich, RB, Illinois St. - Coprich has size concerns at 5’8 207lbs but he is more short than small. Coprich dominated small school competition and has a knack for finding cutback lanes and breaking would be tacklers at the 2nd level. He may need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL but he has talent.

 

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Comments (18)

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4thand1's picture

March 31, 2016 at 03:56 pm

I would like to see Tyler Ervin in the backfield. Speed, speed, speed.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2016 at 06:39 am

I would love to see the Packers take a RB like Ervin. The problem is McCarthy doesn't really believe in or want that type of RB. He wants a guy that can play all 3 downs so they can run the No huddle offense when they want.

Me, I still think they could use a player like Ervin. A pass catching, shifty, fast RB

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 31, 2016 at 05:51 pm

I think the conversation should be limited to 3rd down and change of pace RBs because the 2017 draft class for RBs shapes up to be outstanding and deep for featured RBs. Of course waiting a year means that some of them might need to develop as blockers or as receivers on 3rd down, but otherwise RBs play early and well.

I love Prosise, but I had hoped he would last until round 3 and preferably the 4th. I like Drake in the 4th and Lasco in the 4th or 5th along with Ervin later, maybe 5th or 6th. Ervin would be fun to watch - I like Starks but Ervin would give the full meaning to a change of pace back.

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Packmaniac's picture

March 31, 2016 at 06:54 pm

I hear you. As for a 3rd down\change of pace back who could be there for one of our three 4th round picks, I like UCLA's Paul Perkins in addition to the guys you mentioned.

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dobber's picture

March 31, 2016 at 08:30 pm

Very intrigued by Drake's athleticism and versatility.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2016 at 07:07 am

I agree with you on the RB position.

I think the Packers really could use a change of pace type of RB. A receiving threat out of the backfield. Packers kind of have that with Cobb and Montgomery.
But it would be nice not having to use our WR's as RB's to get a change of pace.

All the guys you mentioned. A couple of later round guys that I do like is Aaron Green from TCU, and Travis Greene from Bowling Green.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 01, 2016 at 10:19 am

I've read comments about Perkins, but Green and Greene from Bowling Green (that's a lot of Greens!) are new to me. Thanks for the info. I try to watch tape on prospects but there is a limit, and watching a bunch of tape on players I don't think TT is inclined to pick, rightly or wrongly, is something I don't have time to do unless recommended by my fellow posters. Edit: Rossonero is right and Josh Ferguson with his speed and great acceleration should be on this list.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2016 at 11:30 am

Maybe Green Bay will draft Travis Greene from Bowling Green. :)

I hear you. I try to watch as much as I can, but there are only so many hours a day.

I do like Furguson as well.

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AgrippaLII's picture

March 31, 2016 at 06:35 pm

I wouldn't mind seeing any one of these guys in Green and Gold...but as your list indicates...RB's will be plentiful in this year's draft with next year looking the same. I expect Ted will draft a RB late in the draft given the Packers other needs. But then who knows? Maybe BPA will win out.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

March 31, 2016 at 08:00 pm

So maybe a a late round, more needs are in the first 4 rounds.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 31, 2016 at 08:22 pm

Looks like a great year for what we need and some could fall our way late. Prefer a WR but we do have 9 picks so why not.

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Rossonero's picture

March 31, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Josh ferguson from Illinois should be on here. Very similar Scatback to Jonathan Franklin.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2016 at 06:39 am

career ending neck injury. I'm sure that is the norm for players like him.

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4thand1's picture

April 01, 2016 at 07:32 am

cow had a life altering head injury undoubtedly.

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4thand1's picture

April 01, 2016 at 07:36 am

A really fast RB eliminates the need to put Cobb in the backfield. I never liked him lining up there because he's to valuable as a receiver.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2016 at 08:05 am

I like it for a change of pace, and honestly Cobb is really good in that role. And Montgomery was starting to really be good in that role as well.

But as we have seen injuries happen. It wold be really nice to have a RB that can take over that role so we can keep Cobb and Montgomery more as WR's.

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4thand1's picture

April 01, 2016 at 08:48 am

Whats the status on Monty? I haven't really heard anything. The high ankle sprain he had was really bad, and these types on injuries can hang around forever.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2016 at 09:06 am

The last I heard which was from McCarthy was that Montgomery won't be ready until Training camp.
I don't think he just had a high ankle sprain. I think there was more that happened then what they are letting on.

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