Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cream of the 2013 NFL Draft crop: Running backs


This is the third edition of an eight-part series noting the top prospects of the 2013 NFL Draft at their respective positions. (photo: Mike Pettigano, Flickr)

THE RUNNING BACK PROSPECTS: Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, Stepfan Taylor, Montee Ball, Jawan Jamison.

Giovani Bernard (5-10, 205 lb.), North Carolina
Averaged nearly 7 yards per carry in 2012 and was third on his team in receptions with 47, adding nearly 500 yards to the 1,200 he gained on the ground. A proven special teams playmaker as well, giving him the trifecta many NFL coaches are looking for and a near shoo-in for a late first-round pick.

Eddie Lacy (5-10, 220 lb.), Alabama
Widely ranked No. 1 among the running back class, and for good reason. Tore through Notre Dame’s elite defense in the final game of the college season, notching two of his 19 combined touchdowns. Also averaged more than 6 yards a carry in 2012. Recently said he will miss the Combine due to injury, however, which could affect his chance at a first round spot.

Stepfan Taylor (5-9, 216 lb.), Stanford
Ran for more than 1,500 yards in his final year and added almost 300 in reception yards for the Rose Bowl winners. Broke the all-time rushing record for Stanford, gaining more than 4,300 yards. Also proven to be a reliable receiver and blocker in the backfield. Not flashy by any means but looks prepared to be able to carry a running game on the NFL level, even in a true No. 1 role.

Montee Ball (5-11, 215 lb.), Wisconsin
The prototypical definition of a workhorse, Ball carried the ball more than 650 times in his final two seasons with the Badgers and gained more than 3,700 yards in the process. Possesses many of the all-around skills needed for an instant starter. Has had some minor off-the-field incidents, however, as well as a couple costly late-game fumbles last year that could affect which day he goes in the draft.

Jawan Jamison (5-8, 200 lb.), Rutgers
Averaged nearly 1,000 yards in his final two seasons and may be a surprisingly high pick in the draft given his similarity to C.J. Spiller, who dominated last season on the ground and out as a receiver. His size would likely call for him to be part of one-two combination with another power back, but he has shown consistent between-the-tackles ability.

AFC East Need Meter (Not pressing, mildly pressing, very pressing)
Bills: Not pressing
Jets: Mildly pressing
Patriots: Not pressing
Dolphins: Mildly pressing

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