This year’s running back class is unlikely to produce as many immediate starters as we have gotten used to in the last couple of seasons, as there are no prospects that stack up to the pedigrees of guys like Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, or Christian McCaffrey. However, there remain quite a few who could find themselves immediately becoming lead backs or at least heavily featured members of RBBCs. Without further adieu let’s take a look at our pre-draft rankings for these prospects.
- Josh Jacobs Alabama
Jacobs is a favorite in the scouting community because he is a very patient, dynamic runner who is also able to catch the ball well (does this sound like a certain air-head eating Saints player?) with very little “tread on his tires” thanks to Alabama’s tendency to lean on a platoon at the position. Jacobs is the only player that I can realistically see being drafted in round one from his position group.
- David Montgomery Iowa State
Montgomery has the size and vision necessary to excel in the NFL, his only concerns are related to speed, especially in the second level. I think he has the potential to be as good as another David (Johnson) if he lands in the right situation.
3. Miles Sanders Penn State
Sanders has been a riser these past few months, he should benefit from a very good combine as well as affiliation with last year’s number two overall pick Saquon Barkley (a joke). With such a shallow group of backs this year, a player like Sanders could easily find himself going in the top of the second round.
4. Darrell Henderson Memphis
I like Henderson’s running style a lot and it would not surprise me to see him end up as one of the best running backs to emerge from this class. He could end up being slightly undersized for a lead back but other than that I don’t have many concerns about him or his game.
5. Damien Harris Alabama
Once thought to be the top back in this class, Harris was surpassed by his teammate Jacobs in the eyes of the scouting community. He’s a pretty well rounded back with no elite traits but also no real concerns either. I have heard him compared to Doug Martin as well as Alfred Morris, both players with high ceilings at their best (and pretty chasmic floors at their worst).
6. Justice Hill Oklahoma State
Hill is undersized but displayed very explosive speed at the combine. That, in conjunction with his impressive production at Oklahoma State should be enough to push him into the top 4 rounds of the draft. Think Thomas Jones for upside.
7. Benny Snell Kentucky
Snell is a powerful runner who could have an impact similar to Isaiah Crowell or Gus Edwards for a team in need of a power runner.
8. Bryce Love Stanford
Love is super explosive when healthy. He will likely miss most of his rookie year recovering from an ACL injury suffered during his final game for Stanford. His upside is somewhere between Reggie Bush and Dion Lewis in the NFL and if he can overcome his durability issues he could be a major steal in this draft.
9. Rodney Anderson Oklahoma
Speaking of durability issues, Anderson is a guy who could have been a first round talent if not for his grocery list of serious injuries. Like Love, Anderson could end up being a steal if he stays healthy.
10. Elijah Holyfield Georgia
While his combine was less than ideal, Holyfield has a prototypical body for an NFL back and was very productive at Georgia. He could be a starter for a team one day, but as a member of a committee even he could do some damage in the NFL.
Other names to monitor: Mike Weber Ohio State, Devin Singletary Florida Atlantic, Karan Higdon Michigan, Wes Hills Slippery Rock