In an effort to get through all of the positions before the draft goes, I’ll be briefly naming some of the prospects to watch in this draft class, as well as some potential sleepers and busts. This isn’t nearly as in depth as I’d prefer to go, but for the sake of getting them done, they’ll pretty concise.
This year’s group of Runningbacks is quite impressive, better as a whole than in recent memory. Two players headline the class, prolific Wisconsin Badger runner Melvin Gordon III, and Georgia’s Todd Gurley, coming off of an ACL surgery. Both of these backs could and probably should be taken in the first round, ending a skid of a couple years without a first round pick from the position. The rest of the class isn’t too shabby either, as it’s very deep throughout with backs in many shapes and sizes.
Top RB Prospect: Melvin Gordon III Wisconsin 6’1” 215
Gordon is the latest in a long line of prolific runners out of Madison, and leaves the Badgers as the school and conferences career rushing leaders, capping his career with a 2,587 yard performance including 29 TDs. Gordon possesses elite acceleration and burst through the hole, and is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. He also won the Greek God body award from the Combine. Gordon reminds many of a mix between DeMarco Murray and Jamaal Charles. Gordon should be an absolute stud for whoever drafts him.
Biggest Bust Potential: Todd Gurley Georgia 6’1” 222
Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with Gurley’s talent. There just simply isn’t much history of runners that play with the physical and aggressive coming back to form after an ACL injury. Gurley has the odds in his favor from the aspect that his injury was only a torn ACL, and not the other ligaments. Gurley has the potential to, along with Gordon, be perennial Pro Bowlers, but only if his knee allows. He’s a big power back with speed, and even kick returning skills. He may need to be redshirted for a year, but Gurley should hopefully return to the runner he was in Athens.
Biggest Sleeper: Matt Jones Florida 6’2” 231
Matt Jones is a prospect who probably shouldn’t have declared early, but I think that he could be a real treat for whoever drafts him. Jones combines his size, which is impressive for a runner, with his deceptive speed. He ran a 4.61 at the Combine, not much slower than the top backs this year. He has good receiving skills, and runs hard and mad. However, he seems to struggle to be the sum of his parts. He has a small sample size, with only one full year as the starter, and missed the bowl game due to disciplinary issues. Whatever team drafts Jones, if he does get drafted, will do so at little risk. Jones could eventually turn into a starter in the NFL, he’s got the physical tools to succeed.
Small School Stud: Zach Zenner South Dakota St. 5’11” 223
I want to clear this up right now. Zach Zenner is white. Zach Zenner plays Runningback. This does not mean that he has to play Fullback in the NFL. Zenner ran for about 2,000 yards in three straight seasons at SDSU, and has a great skill set. He’s a bigger running back, who runs with a physical style. Zenner displays nice receiving skills and is a threat once the ball is in his hands. He has good vision, and has better speed than you’d think. He ran a 4.60 at the combine. He’ll probably be drafted in the later rounds, but Zenner at the very least will be a good rotational power runner. His upside could be as a starter.
My Runningback Rankings:
- Melvin Gordon III Wisconsin 6’1” 215 1st Round
- Todd Gurley Georgia 6’1” 222 1st Round
- Jay Ajayi Boise State 6’0” 221 2nd Round
- Duke Johnson Miami (FL) 5’9” 207 2nd Round
- Tevin Coleman Indiana 5’11” 206 2nd Round
- Ameer Abdullah Nebraska 5’9” 205 2nd Round
- T.J. Yeldon Alabama 6’2” 226 3rd Round
- Mike Davis South Carolina 5’9” 217 3rd Round
- David Cobb Minnesota 5’11” 229 3rd Round
- Karlos Williams Florida State 6’1” 230 3rd-4th Round