Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Join Date: Sep 2004
Early 2008 Watch List -- The RBs
Most of these guys will be Juniors, so a few may not come out for the draft. Nonetheless, here are some of the better prospects:
Darren McFadden (Arkansas)- 6'2" 210 4.4- Complete back. Size, Speed, and Power. Had over 1,100 yards as a freshman. This year he had 1,647 with 14 TDs. Good hands. Lines up as QB in Arkansas'offense and runs the option as well as throws the ball. Heisman front runner going into the '07 season. Only off field issue was a bar fight. Could go first overall, almost certain top 5. I think he needs to run less upright to avoid injury in the NFL. Eric Dickerson is
the comparison I hear the most, but he reminds me most of ex-Buckeye and Viking Robert Smith.
Steve Slaton (West Virginia)- 5'10" 190 4.2-Will instantly be one of the fastest players in the league, with legit sub-4.3 speed. If he finds a crease, he's into the third level immediately. Can catch the ball out of the backfield and can run in between the tackles, although he likely won't be asked to do that much in the NFL. Had some Monster games last two years: 6 TD's versus Louisville in '05. Over 200 yards rushing, 130 receiving, and 4 total TD's vs Pitt in '06. Finished '06 with 1744 yards rushing and 360 receiving and 18 total TD's . Averaged 7 yards a carry. He'll be dynamite in the screen/draw game, and should be a great returner. Will be a first round pick. In the mold of a faster Brian Westbrook, although he probably can't carry as heavy a load. Reportedly leaning towards returning for his senior year.
Jonathan Stewart (Oregon) 5'11" 234 4.5- Impressive speed for a big man. Heavily recruited out of high school. Very patient runner. Built low to the ground and has great lower body strength. If you tackle him up high he'll run through it, if you go low he'll knock you out with his enormous thighs. Had 981 yards and 10 TD's this season while missing almost 3 games with various injuries. Will also be a first round pick. Built like Lamont Jordan, with more power but less shiftiness and receiving ability.
Ray Rice (Rutgers) 5'9" 195 4.5- Small, powerful runner who knows how to keep the chains moving.Sets up his blocks very well. Isn't necessarily a home run threat every time he touches the ball, but he rarely goes backward and hits the hole decisively. 1,120 yards rushing in '05 and 1,794 in 2006. For a smaller guy, he knows how to find the end zone, with 20 TDs on the ground. Not much of a receiver, and may be better served by staying for his senior year. Charlie Garner, without the hands.
James Davis (Clemson)- 5'11" 210 4.4- Strong runner who does have speed to turn a regular play into a big play. Had a good freshman season with 879 yards and 9 TD's which led to him being named ACC Rookie of the Year for 2005. Had 1,187 yards this season with 17 TD's. Has injury concerns. Suffered a broken wrist his freshman year and has had lingering shoulder issues this year which has cost him some time. Would have had more consistent numbers if the QB play were better for the Tigers. Teams stack the box against Clemson and this affects Davis' overall production.
Also split time with 2 other good backs. Will not put up huge numbers because of the RB committee. Not too flashy, just good in all phases, similar to what Thomas Jones should have been early in his career.
Ian Johnson (Boise St.)- 5'11" 194 4.5- Led the NCAA with 25 TDs in leading the Broncos to an undefeated season. Following up a solid freshman year with an breakout sophomore season, with 1,714 yards to go with all those TD's. Has a good burst that can separate him from safeties and linebackers. Will get chased down from behind by speedy DBs. Had a very impressive 5 TD's, and 240 yards, against Oregon St.,in a 42-14 win. Jerious Norwood
Jamaal Charles (Texas) 6'1" 190 4.3- Track star who will not be caught if he gets by the defense. Had 831 yards splitting time with Selvin Young. Not sure if he's equipped to handle the load in the NFL. Some success probably
attributable to great O-line. Could be a good west coast offense back with his catching ability. Will run in between the tackles but excels getting outside and running away from everyone. Will be a screen pass nightmare at the next level. Should start to return kicks. This will only help his draft stock. Lee Suggs in his Virginia Tech days.
Brandon Ore (Virginia Tech) 5'11" 207 4.5- Powerful, punishing runner. Extremely productive . Has 1,137 yards this season and 16 TD's to go along with 214 yards receiving. Has injury concerns -- off-season shoulder surgery. Will not be a 25 carry-a-game runner at the next level but will be a good change of pace back. Slightly bigger and faster Mike Cloud, with more upside.
Felix Jones (Arkansas) 6' 202 4.3- Combines with Darren McFadden to make up the best running back duo in the country. Lightning fast and can take any carry to the house. Has good vision and is very decisive in hitting the hole.
Rarely goes in between the tackles, but that's because of McFadden. He'd be great in a zone-blocking scheme, where he can make a cut and go. Can also catch the ball a bit. Had 1168 yards and 6 TDs. Runs low to the ground and is tough for linebackers and safeties to find behind the linemen. I think he has the game of Reggie Bush without the hype of a national power that's on television all the time, but also seems better equipped to go between the tackles.
Kevin Smith (Central Florida) 6'1" 210 4.5- Not the fastest guy, but he is quick. Not afraid to initiate contact. Won C-USA Rookie of the Year season in '05 with 1,178 yards and 9 TD's and finished 2006 with 934 yards and 7 TD's. More than his share of fumbles. Showed he can catch the ball out of the backfield with 23 receptions. He's working in a Pro-style offense, which is a plus. Ricky Watters would be a good comparison.
Tyrell Sutton (Northwestern) 5'9" 190 4.6- Phenomenal freshman season with 1,474 yards and 16 TD's earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. This year had 1,000 yards and 5 TDs as the whole offense sucked. Very versatile and quick. Can catch the ball out the backfield as evident in his 40 receptions this year. Smart kid who can run in the middle and outside. Does not have blazing speed, so a third down back is possibly out of the question. Second day pick
right now, but in that offense he should rack up big numbers this season. Napoleon Kaufman
Andre Brown (North Carolina St.) 6' 232 4.5- Big, powerful runner who improved a lot over the year. Could breakout next season with the long awaited coaching change. Had 642 yards last year. Has good long speed, but lacks quick burst. Absolute load to bring down. Mike Anderson
Marlon Lucky (Nebraska) 6' 210 4.4- One of the most heavily recruited backs out of high school. If he played in a offense better fit for his skills, he'd be a household name. Good size and speed. Runs low to the ground which will
prevent him from taking many kill shots. Decisive with the ball in his hands. Had 728 yards and 6 TD's this year on only 141 carries backing up Brandon Jackson. Has the talent to be a first round pick. Should be a better Pro than
college player. Marion Barber comes to mind.
Mike Hamilton (Oklahoma St.) 6'1" 215 4.4- Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in '05 with 961 yards. Battled injury problems this past year and finished with 546 yards and 4 TD's. Another good size and speed prospect. Correll Buckhalter is a good comp.
Shannon Woods (Texas Tech) 5'11" 203 4.5- Not as big or fast as you'd like, and you wonder how much success is due to the Leach offense. He is shifty, and had a phenomenal 75 receptions out of the backfield in 2006. Had 926 yards and 10 TDs on 152 carries. Big play threat who sometimes gets in trouble trying to make something out of nothing. Maxes out as a 3rd down back, similar to Mewelde Moore
Javorskie Lane (Texas A&M) 5'11" 274 4.7- Look at that weight again. A cornerback nightmare. Has a burst that can get him outside, and will lower his shoulder to punish anyone trying to tackle him. Rarely brought down with only one player. Will be a short yardage and goal line back in the NFL. Had 19 TD's this year on only 166 carries. Reminds me of Greg Jones, with more bulk but less athleticism.
Brad Lester (Auburn) 5'11" 184 4.5- Filled in admirably for Kenny Irons this year when Irons was hurt. Had 510 yards and 9 TD's this year on only 104 carries and looked as good as Irons, with a higher YPA. Quick back with good
vision and the speed to break a long run. He's very similar to Irons, which bodes well for the War Eagles.
Javon Ringer (Michigan St.) 5'9" 202 4.5- Quick guy, who probably did as well as could be expected in that mess in Lansing. Adequate hands. Hasn't put up impressive numbers, (86 carries for 497 yards) but has a chance to this year
in the new offense. Should be a productive third down back at a minimum. Short guy who's hard for the defense to locate. - Maurice Jones Drew
Antoine Smith (Florida St.) 5'9" 188 4.4- The Seminoles didn't have much of a drop off when Smith came into games last year. Had 456 yards rushing with 5TD's in a sub role. Can catch the ball out of the backfield . Like Booker, he's a home run threat, although he's too slight for full-time duty. Averaged 5 yards per carry, with no OL and sloppy QBing. Michael Bennett
Kory Sheets (Purdue) 6' 199 4.5- Quick back who can catch the ball, recording 27 receptions. Plays in a stat-friendly offense. Had 787 yards and 11 TD's this year . Also has 28 catches for 213 yards and 2 more TD's. Sweep/Draw/Screen guy. Runs stronger than he looks. Lorenzo Booker
When it's third and 10, you can have the milk drinkers and I'll take the whiskey drinkers every time. -- R.I.P. Max McGee