NFL Draft countdown: Running backs

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Overview

For the first time since 1963, running backs might be passed over in the first round. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy is the consensus top player at his position, but he has a second-round grade. After Lacy, there are differing opinions on the ratings at the position. Several players, including Texas A&M’s Christine Michael, are in the mix to be the second back selected. Good value can be found in every round at this position.

Cowboys’ needs

The Cowboys need to run the ball better. That much is obvious. They set the team record for fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season with 1,265. The previous worst in a 16-game season was the 1,409 rushing yards by the 1989 team, which went 1-15. DeMarco Murray has 1,560 career yards in his two seasons, but he has missed nine games with injuries. He was out for six games with a foot injury in 2012, when he rushed for 663 yards. The Cowboys need a No. 2 running back behind Murray. Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar were the No. 3 running backs in 2012. Felix Jones, the No. 2, is an unrestricted free agent who remains on the market. In his five seasons since the Cowboys made him a first-round pick, Jones has rushed for 2,728 yards and scored 15 total touchdowns.

Top five

Eddie Lacy, Alabama, 5-11, 231, 4.53: He rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 TDs on 204 carries.

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina, 5-9, 202, 4.50: He led the nation in punt returns with a 16.4 average and led the ACC with 1,228 rushing yards.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin, 5-11, 214, 4.59: He tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA single-season record with 39 total touchdowns and led the nation with 1,923 yards in 2011.

Johnathan Franklin, UCLA, 5-10, 205, 4.46: He broke the school’s single-season records for rushing yards (1,734) and all-purpose yards (2,062) and career records for rushing (4,403) and all-purpose (4,920).

Andre Ellington, Clemson, 5-9, 199, 4.54: He was second in the ACC in rushing yards per game (83.2) and fifth in all-purpose yards (114.7).

Sleeper

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, 5-11, 221, 4.62: Some team will take a chance on him despite blowing out knees in back-to-back years.

Top Texas ties

Christine Michael, Texas A&M, 5-10, 220, 4.43: He has some red flags, but his 34 career TDs should warrant a second-day call.

Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, 5-9, 214, 4.70: The Mansfield product, rated a third-round pick, is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,300 yards and had 40 career rushing TDs.

Knile Davis, Arkansas, 6-0, 227, 4.35: Stock has fallen for the Fort Bend Marshall product because of injuries the past two seasons that limited him to 377 rushing yards, 157 receiving yards and three total TDs in 2012.

Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from NFL Draft Scout.

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