April 26, 2017

2017 Running Back Prospects

#5 Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford


QB / RB / WR / TE / OT / IOL / EDGE / DL / LB / CB / S



This is the strongest group of running backs I have ever seen. From top to bottom, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Just an absurd amount of talent. There are a legitimate 5 running back prospects who deserve first round consideration, while the over/under for the amount of backs taken in round one is probably set at 3. Like with NFL teams, it is all about what you look for in a running back.
Want a workhorse back who can fit in a power blocking scheme? Leonard Fournette is your guy. Want an all-purpose weapon? How about Christian McCaffrey? Want a talented runner with 3 down potential? Might wanna look at Dalvin Cook. This class has you covered if you are looking to add some talent to your backfield.

Prospect rankings are based on film breakdown provided by Draft Breakdown with a minimum of 3 games watched per prospect in most cases. Measurables, athletic testing, future roles and projections are also taken into effect.
Injuries, off the field issues, etc. will mot be taken into consideration. These rankings are based on talent and projections on the field. Players are grouped into "tiers" to separate them. Players that I project as early round picks will be placed in the "All-Pro"/"Pro Bowl" tiers for example. Prospects that I saw limited film of or was unable to watch at all will not be ranked, but listed under "Other Notable Prospects". Specifically, prospects well known in the scouting community and draft sites like CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus will be listed here.



Tier One: All-Pro Prospects


1. Christian McCaffrey*
Experience: Junior | School: Stanford
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 204 lbs.
Hand Size: 9" | Arm Length: 30" | Grade: Top 10


40 Time: 4.48 | Bench: 10 | Vertical: 37.5" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 6.57 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.22 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.03


Analysis: A special talent in a loaded running back group, McCaffrey is the best all-purpose back the 2017 class has to offer. His versatility is a big reason why he will be considered in round one. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, but he can also line up out wide or in the slot. He is also a dangerous kick/punt returner. Give him the ball in space, and watch him work. He also has elite traits as a runner as well. Impressive vision and burst. Cut-back ability. Can hit the home run. You name it. Some scouts will question his ability to be a workhorse back. In today's NFL, however, most teams utilize 2, sometimes even 3 backs, so this should not be an issue.




2. Leonard Fournette*
Experience: Junior | School: Louisiana State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 228 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/4" | Arm Length: 31 5/8" | Grade: Top 10


40 Time: 4.51 | Bench: N/A | Vertical: 28.5" | Broad: N/A
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Leonard Fournette is a freak. He's IMO the most talented runner in this class, as there is a reason why he was the consensus top running back prospect heading into the 2016 season. His blend of speed, power, and elusiveness is incredible given his size. While some other backs have the impressive speed and elusiveness, they can't bring the power that Fournette does. While his technique as a pass blocker could be improved, he is far from a liability here, and should be a decent enough option as a pass catcher even if it isn't his forte. He may not be considered the best third down back, but he is a workhorse back than can be dominate. An ankle injury limited his effectiveness and production. Question is: will it affect him long term?




3. Dalvin Cook*
Experience: Junior | School: Florida State
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 211 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/4" | Arm Length: 32 3/8" | Grade: Round 1


40 Time: 4.49 | Bench: 22 | Vertical: 30.5" | Broad: 116"
3 Cone: 7.27 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.53 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Probably the most complete running back in the draft, Dalvin Cook can do it all. He projects as a three down back who can be a threat as a receiver and is valuable in pass protection. He's got excellent speed, acceleration, explosiveness, and balance along with excellent patience and good vision. Love the way he finishes runs as well. The fumbles are an issue and need to be cut down. Has some off the field baggage that could push him out of the first round.




Tier Two: Pro Bowl Prospects


4. Joe Mixon**
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: Oklahoma
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 228 lbs.
Hand Size: N/A | Arm Length: N/A | Grade: Round 2


40 Time: 4.43 | Bench: 21 | Vertical: 35" | Broad: 118"
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Mixon is a tall, lean running back who offers true three down ability. He can run various routes and has reliable hands, plus shows willingness and effectiveness in pass protection. His best traits, however, are his vision and his patience. He allows his blocking in from of him to develop, jump cuts, then runs downhill effectively. May not have "elite" speed, but is more than capable of taking any run the distance, plus his elusiveness in space is a plus. Would like him to run behind his pads a little more and run less upright. Doesn't run through quite as many tackles as you would think, but does have a knack for falling forward after contact. Talent wise, he should be in the first round mix, though teams may still feel uncomfortable about his off the field incident from 2014.




5. Alvin Kamara*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Tennessee
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 213 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/4" | Arm Length: 32 3/4" | Grade: Round 2


40 Time: 4.56 | Bench: 15 | Vertical: 39.5" | Broad: 131"
3 Cone: 7.17 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.42 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Love this kid Kamara. He's a special runner. He has good vision, runs with a low center of gravity, runs behind his pads, and is explosive with homerun speed. Shorter back (measured in at 5'10" at the combine), but is built well, runs hard, and rarely seems to go down after first contact. Has great balance, and can beat you in space with his speed in elusiveness, especially as a pass catcher. The pass blocking looks like a work in progress; Would also like to see just a little more patience before exploding through holes. Any team than doesn't land Fournette or Cook would love Kamara as a fallback option.




Tier Three: Future Starter Prospects


6. Kareem Hunt
Experience: Senior | School: Toledo
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 220 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 5/8" | Arm Length: 31 3/8" | Grade: Round 2


40 Time: 4.53 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 36.5" | Broad: 119"
3 Cone: 7.22 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.53 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Absolute stud. Can do it all. Has the patience and vision necessary to be a successful NFL back. Can get skinny through the hole and has the acceleration to explode through them. Excellent balance. Runs with a low center of gravity. Amazing runner in the open field. Most impressive creating yards that most backs can't. In the backfield, makes defenders miss and often turns negative plays into positive plays. Runs hard. Tough to bring down. Only one fumble in his entire career. Comfortable in pass protection and as a receiver. Great acceleration and agility, but may not have elite long speed. Dropped weight, possibly to be faster? Best senior running back prospect.




7. D'Onta Foreman*
Experience: Junior | School: Texas
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 234 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 1/8" | Arm Length: 31 3/8" | Grade: Round 2


40 Time: 4.45 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 33" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 7.21 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.26 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Foreman is arguably a first round talent as a runner. Playing at 250 lbs. this past season, he is a big back in the mold of an Eddie Lacy or Derrick Henry. He is very agile and deceptively elusive for a bigger back. He has the necessary patience, vision, balance, cutback ability, and overall agility to be an effective inside runner, but also has really good speed. More finesse than power, but can and will run through you when necessary. Doesn't often go down after first contact. Down to 234 lbs. May be even faster now. As of now, offers no third down ability. Limit reps as a receiver, and often looks confused and ineffective as a pass blocker, specifically in blitz pickup. Has some fumbling issues as well. Great value on the second day of the draft.




8. Curtis Samuel*
Experience: Junior | School: Ohio State
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 196 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/2" | Arm Length: 31 1/4" | Grade: Round 3


40 Time: 4.31 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 37" | Broad: 119"
3 Cone: 7.09 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.33 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Samuel is a special talent. He's probably a guy you have to manufacture touches for. Put the ball in his hands and let him work in space. He's one of the best players in this class and making something out of nothing. He's got a great combination of speed, agility, and elusiveness which helps him in the open field. He isn't a natural receiver. He can separate with his blazing speed, but his hands are too unreliable when he's forced to use them instead of his body to make catches. He struggles to time his jumps and sometimes jumps to catch the ball when it is unnecessary. I think he's a running back who you utilize in the passing game with screens, and let him work over the middle from the slot. His patience isn't the best, but his ability to stop on a dime, make brilliant cuts, and make guys miss in the open field is special. He won't run people over, but he does break a good amount of tackles when running the ball inside. Won't be an every down back, but could be very effective in a two man backfield.




9. James Conner
Experience: Senior | School: Pittsburgh
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 237 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 7/8" | Arm Length: 31 1/4" | Grade: Round 3


40 Time: 4.65 | Bench: 20 | Vertical: 29" | Broad: 113"
3 Cone: 7.41 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.31 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Big, physical downhill runner who looks to punish defenders. He has good vision, and hits the holes hard, often bouncing off of defenders and racking up yards after contact. Really opened my eyes against Virginia Tech. Effective spin moves in the backfield, showing some impressive elusiveness for a 240 pound back, and has proven that he can be a reliable receiving option out of the backfield. True power back. Has bounced back well from knee injury and beat cancer! Tough, hard working player who will be a steal if he lasts until the third day. Rooting hard for James Conner!




10. Marlon Mack*
Experience: Junior | School: South Florida
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 212 lbs.
Hand Size: 9" | Arm Length: 32" | Grade: Round 3


40 Time: 4.50 | Bench: 15 | Vertical: 35.5" | Broad: 125"
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Gonna be a gem for some team on Day 3. Might not even last that long. Violent runner with a low center of gravity. Impressive vision and cutback ability. Had some Marshawn Lynch-esque runs with the balance, amazing tackle breaking ability, nasty stiff arms, etc. Well balanced runner. Enough speed to be a home run threat. Good agility as well. Not much of a pass blocker at this stage, and while he produced as a receiver, I'm not too confident in his pass catching ability right now. Will look to bounce runs to the outside/look for the home run a bit too often. Has a lot of tools to work with. Could thrive as a one-cut runner in a zone blocking scheme.




11. Samaje Perine*
Experience: Junior | School: Oklahoma
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 232 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 30 3/8" | Grade: Round 3


40 Time: 4.57 | Bench: 30 | Vertical: 33" | Broad: 116"
3 Cone: 7.26 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.37 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.71


Analysis: Well built power back who displays excellent balance, and agility. Questionable vision at times, but more of a consistency issue. Only big knock on him as a runner is that he isn't the most elusive in the open field. He has good, but not great speed, and doesn't seem to offer much as a third down back as of now. Pass blocking is a work in progress, and limited reps as a pass catcher. Breaks plenty of tackles and looks comfortable in space. May not be a fit for every team, but a well rounded back who should make an immediate impact.




12. Wayne Gallman*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Clemson
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 211 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/8" | Arm Length: 32 5/8" | Grade: Round 3


40 Time: 4.56 | Bench: 21 | Vertical: 30.5" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 7.17 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.28 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Overlooked back in a loaded class. Tall and lean. Upright running style which leaves him vulnerable to losing his balance at times. Runs hard and violent. Not a finesse runner at all. Can stop on a dime, and make sharp jump cuts. Nothing flashy about him. Not much of a creator in space. Creating in the backfield is a plus for him. Shows very good patience and has above average vision. Goal line stud. Physical blocker, but needs to work on his technique, as he rarely uses his hands. Not too sure about his receiving ability.




Tier Four: Quality Backup Prospects


13. Donnel Pumphrey
Experience: Senior | School: San Diego State
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 176 lbs.
Hand Size: 8 1/2" | Arm Length: 29" | Grade: Round 4


40 Time: 4.48 | Bench: 5 | Vertical: 33.5" | Broad: 117"
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Size limitations will limit his NFL role and draft ceiling, but man is Donnel Pumphrey a special runner. Elite burst, and elusiveness for a running back. Speed isn't elite, but he is still very fast. Decisive runner. Is a nightmare in space, and can make defenders miss in the open field. Crazy start/stop ability. Can create yards other running backs can't. Receiving ability gives his stock a boost as well.




14. Jamaal Williams
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Brigham Young
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 213 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 31 1/4" | Grade: Round 4


40 Time: 4.51 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 33" | Broad: 123"
3 Cone: 7.12 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.26 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Big, between the tackles runner with a violent running style. Looks like a throwback NFL running back. Good vision and acceleration make him an effective runner. Lacks elite speed and elusiveness in the open field, but could be a fit for a team looking for more of a power back to add to a rotation. While he is a willing pass blocker, he needs to improve his technique. As of now, does not offer any receiving ability. Could be a Day 3 steal.




15. Jeremy McNichols*
Experience: Junior | School: Boise State
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 214 lbs.
Hand Size: 10" | Arm Length: 31 1/2" | Grade: Round 4


40 Time: 4.49 | Bench: N/A | Vertical: 35.5" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 6.93 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.28 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Projects well as a 3rd down back. Lacks size and doesn't have elite traits. Quick, shifty back who can shed arm tackles. Has good vision. Needs to trust his blockers more. Occasionally runs into their backs at the line of scrimmage. Doesn't have great speed or elusiveness in the open field. His ability to pick up the blitz, run routes, and catch the ball out of the backfield elevates his stock.




16. Brian Hill*
Experience: Junior | School: Wyoming
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 221 lbs.
Hand Size: 8 7/8" | Arm Length: 31 3/8" | Grade: Round 5


40 Time: 4.51 | Bench: 15 | Vertical: 34" | Broad: 125"
3 Cone: 7.03 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.32 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.29


Analysis: Good blend of size and speed. Good, but not great vision. Has the tendency to bounce runs to the outside. Best suited to be a North-South runner. Won't fit every scheme. Doesn't have many moves to make defenders miss in the open field. Runs hard and bounces off of would be tacklers. Shows tons of upside as a blocker and receiver. Needs to use his hands more instead of just launching his pads into oncoming defenders, but it proves to be effective. Comfortable route runner out of the backfield. 3 down potential.




17. Matthew Dayes
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina State
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 205 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 1/2" | Arm Length: 30" | Grade: Round 5


40 Time: N/A | Bench: 18 | Vertical: 28" | Broad: 109"
3 Cone: 7.29 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.44 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Though he lacks great speed and burst, Dayes can still be an effective runner in the NFL. He needs to develop more patience as a runner, but I like his vision. Not flashy, but very effective in space. Not much power to his game and isn't a consistent tackle breaker. Did not see many long runs on tape. One-cut runner. Has experience lining up in the slot, and can run pretty effective routes out of the backfield. Receiving ability could push him up draft boards despite not having elite traits.




18. Chris Carson
Experience: Senior | School: Oklahoma State
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 215 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 5/8" | Arm Length: 33 1/4" | Grade: Round 5


40 Time: 4.58 | Bench: 23 | Vertical: 39" | Broad: 130"
3 Cone: 7.50 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.29 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Hard, physical running style. Had some nasty runs against TCU where he would not let up off the truck stick. Looks to offer above average athleticism and decent speed, though he will not be a game breaker. Doesn't have great shiftiness or decisiveness as a runner. Runs a bit upright. Downhill back who could come off the board late on the third day of the draft.




Tier Five: Roster Depth Prospects


19. Elijah McGuire
Experience: Senior | School: Louisiana-Lafayette
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 211 lbs.
Hand Size: 9" | Arm Length: 31" | Grade: Round 6


40 Time: 4.53 | Bench: 15 | Vertical: 36" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 7.26 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.56 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.78


Analysis: Built really well for a running back. Has pretty good patience, vision, and receiving ability. Effective between the tackles runner. Not overly elusive or powerful. Appears to lack great speed and burst.




20. T.J. Logan
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 192 lbs.
Hand Size: 9" | Arm Length: 32" | Grade: Round 6


40 Time: 4.37 | Bench: 17 | Vertical: 33.5" | Broad: 121"
3 Cone: 6.95 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.29 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Projects best as a change of pace back at the next level. Has some power in his game, but isn't a consistent tackle breaker. Not the most elusive in space, but has the speed and acceleration to take runs the distance. Good change of direction ability. Physical, effective pass blocker. Third down potential. Decent vision. Fumbles are a problem? Kick return ability boosts his draft value.




21. Joe Williams
Experience: Senior | School: Utah
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 208 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 3/8" | Arm Length: 30 3/4" | Grade: Round 6


40 Time: 4.41 | Bench: 14 | Vertical: 35" | Broad: 125"
3 Cone: 6.94 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.19 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Game changing speed. One of the better home run hitters in the draft. Needs to have more patience (will often run into his blockers at the LOS instead of letting blocks develop). Does display very good vision and excellent cutback ability. Can fit through small cracks better than most running backs. Good player in space. Seems to get better as the game goes on. Agile back, but doesn't show enough open field elusiveness for a back of his style. Runs upright at times and needs to do a better job of running behind his pads. Not a consistent tackle breaker, and lacks a power element to his game. Willing blocker. Decent at times, but not great. Unnatural hands. Likely won't be on the field on third downs, which limits his value. Could fit in a zone blocking scheme as a one-cut runner in a backfield rotation. Talented player, but concerning off the field issues.




22. Elijah Hood*
Experience: Junior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 232 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 3/8" | Arm Length: 30 3/8" | Grade: Round 7


40 Time: 4.63 | Bench: 18 | Vertical: N/A | Broad: N/A
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Straight line runner. Can reach top speed quickly, but does not have the second gear to take runs the distance on a consistent basis. Not always the most patient runner, but his vision as a runner is excellent. For a bigger back, didn't run with much power on tape, and his tackle breaking ability is not as consistent as it should be. Solid lead blocker in the running game, but poor pass protector. May not offer enough receiving ability for teams.




23. Corey Clement
Experience: Senior | School: Wisconsin
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 216 lbs.
Hand Size: N/A | Arm Length: N/A | Grade: Round 7


40 Time: 4.57 | Bench: 19 | Vertical: 32" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 6.91 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.28 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Decent player without special traits. Good build for a back. Runs through arm tackles. Should be an effective inside runner. Lack of elite speed and agility limits him. Not very effective in space. Needs to be more decisive as a runner. Has some power to his game. Will lower his pads and punish linebackers. Doesn't offer much as a receiver or a blocker.




Other Notable Prospects


De'Angelo Henderson
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Coastal Carolina
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 208 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/2" | Arm Length: 29" | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.48 | Bench: 20 | Vertical: 34" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 7.26 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.57 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A




Aaron Jones*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Texas-El Paso
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 208 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/2" | Arm Length: 32 1/2" | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.56 | Bench: 16 | Vertical: 37.5" | Broad: 127"
3 Cone: 6.82 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.20 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.53




Tarik Cohen
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina A&T
Height: 5-7 | Weight: 179 lbs.
Hand Size: 10 1/8" | Arm Length: 29 3/4" | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.42 | Bench: 11 | Vertical: 31.5" | Broad: 118"
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: There are some Darren Sproles comparisons floating around when it comes to Tarik Cohen. He could be a late round sleeper.




De'Veon Smith
Experience: Senior | School: Michigan
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 223 lbs.
Hand Size: 9" | Arm Length: 29 1/2" | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.75 | Bench: 22 | Vertical: 29" | Broad: 108"
3 Cone: 7.00 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.29 | 60-Yard Shuttle: 11.75




Dare Ogunbowale
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Wisconsin
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 206 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 1/8" | Arm Length: 31 3/8" | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.60 | Bench: 14 | Vertical: 35" | Broad: 120"
3 Cone: 6.99 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.25 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Projects as a 3rd down back. I have read that some scouts may prefer him over his teammate Corey Clement, who was more highly regarded.




Shock Linwood
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Baylor
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 201 lbs.
Hand Size: N/A | Arm Length: N/A | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.72 | Bench: N/A | Vertical: N/A | Broad: N/A
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A


Analysis: Was once thought to be a future high draft pick. Had an unproductive season and ran a very slow 40 yard dash at his Pro Day. Unlikely to be drafted.




Tarean Folston*
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Notre Dame
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 199 lbs.
Hand Size: N/A | Arm Length: N/A | Grade: N/A


40 Time: N/A | Bench: N/A | Vertical: N/A | Broad: N/A
3 Cone: N/A | 20-Yard Shuttle: N/A | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A




Justin Davis
Experience: Senior | School: Southern California
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 201 lbs.
Hand Size: 9 5/8" | Arm Length: 31" | Grade: N/A


40 Time: 4.60 | Bench: 21 | Vertical: 30" | Broad: 115"
3 Cone: 6.87 | 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.34 | 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A