2015 NFL Draft: Top 8 Running Back Prospects
This is a target rich NFL Draft for any franchise in need of a running back. For the half dozen or so (possibly 10) teams that need a stable running attack or a young stud to compliment the star workhorse, this is one year where the rich could get richer or the fledgling organization could turn the corner.
There may only be two backs taken in the first round with Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon leading the pack. Here is a look at the top eight backs in this Draft, according to my rankings and how I have evaluated them.
He would have won the Heisman Trophy had he not been in trouble for violating NCAA rules and a knee injury that has put him on the mend. Should he come back at top speed, he is the best back in this draft and probably the best back to come out in the past three seasons.
Gurley will be a late first round pick, early second round pick and should be able to play his way back into shape for a contender, if not an upstart team.
He had 2,000 yards rushing and no Heisman Trophy. Gordon is the real deal and should be a mid to late first round pick. A team like Indianapolis would benefit from taking him as would Arizona. If he falls to the second round, he would be a great fit in Jacksonville or Oakland.
He has great balance and acceleration and can change direction with fluid movement. I think there may be more upside to him in the future than with Gurley.
He is a beast, and the first running back in the second tier of runners.
Johnson broke and ankle against FSU last season, but came back strong in 2014, where he looked better than 2013.
Johnson is a back who gets better as the game wears on. He has fluid hips and solid shoulders that can take a beating through the line.
Look for the Jaguars, Buccaneers and maybe the Dolphins, should he slip that far and potentially grab him.
While Indiana may not have been the juggernaut in college football, Coleman was a Heisman hopeful. Coleman is a complete package with a solid frame and soft hands that allow him to catch the ball out of the backfield.
He can also shift direction and keep a fluid acceleration. I like him as a multi-purpose back in the same mold of LeSean McCoy without as much talent. The Jets could make a move for him in the second round.
If there was anyone who helped himself in the Senior Bowl, it was Abdullah. A shifty runner who displayed good speed and power with his stride.
He has a small frame at 5’8 and 198 pounds, but he can take punishment in the middle of the line. In leading the victorious North squad in rushing (73 yards) and receiving (four catches for 40 yards) for a game-high 113 all-purpose yards, Abdullah did as much as anyone to raise his draft stock.
Personally, I love watching Ajayi run. He may be the most underrated runner in this Draft. A strong combine will help his cause.
He runs low and close to the ground with balance and proper pad level to work off contact. Refuses to go down easy and uses every ounce of power to push forward. Improved vision to cut-and-go with quick eyes to read blocks and trust the play design. Good patience to allow the action to develop and doesn't run hesitant
He is a thick back from Minnesota. Runs low to the ground and can move a pile as well as carry defenders with him. He is a classic back in the Giants or Steelers mold. He is fluid in changing directions without having to slow down, which makes him tough to target for defenders to hit cleanly. Arizona could draft him in the second or third round.
I am not as high on Yeldon as others. He had a good career in college at Alabama, but it was not great. He shared a backfield with a thoroughbred in Derrick Henry.
His size at 6’2” and 221 pounds is better than most in this draft, but he is injury prone. He is quick to the hole but shows good vision for cutback lanes, showing the ability to plant his foot into the ground and explode to ruin pursuit angles. Accelerates quickly and has good top-end speed for breakaways. A third-round pick, maybe Dallas or Denver calls on him.