Leonard Fournette, LSU
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
D'Onta Foreman, Texas
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
Brian Hill, Wyoming
Wayne Gallman, Clemson
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Kareem Hunt, Toledo
Jamaal Williams, BYU
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
De'Veon Smith, Michigan
Corey Clement, Wisconsin
Marlon Mack, USF
Matt Dayes, NC State
James Conner, Pittsburgh
Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
Aaron Jones, UTEP
Elijah McGuire, UL Lafayette
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
Joe Yearby, Miami
Jahad Thomas, Temple
Darius Victor, Towson
Trey Edmunds, Maryland
Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State
Elijah Hood, North Carolina
Boom Williams, Kentucky
Shock Linwood, Baylor
Justin Davis, USC
Torean Folston, Notre Dame
Khalid Abdullah, James Madison
Lenard Tillery, Southern
Tarik Cohen, North Carolina A&T
Jonah Hodges, San Diego
Lorenzo Long, Wofford
Jody Webb, Youngstown State
Austin Ekeler, Western State
Michael Anderson, West Virginia Wesleyan
William Stanback, Virginia Union
Leonard Fournett, LSU
Fournette was one of the most impressive backs in the nation for most of his second season at LSU, after largely having a quiet freshman season despite solid output. His junior season was a mess of injuries and conspiracy as to whether or not he was all in with this draft on the horizon.
As a freshman, he rushed for 1034 yards and 10 scores, and averaged 5.53 yards per carry. During his breakout sophomore campaign, he rushed for 1953 yards and 22 scores, while averaging 6.51 yards per carry. He fell off considerably in 2016, as a junior. He had a rash of injury issues, and never seemed fully invested in the season. He ran for a career low 843 yards in just seven games, and scored eith times. He still managed to average 6.53 yards per carry, but was far outperformed by Darrius Guice.
During parts of the 2015 season, he was the best back I have ever seen since Bo Jackson at Auburn. He ran for over 200 yards in three of the first four games of the 2015 season, but then came a game against Alabama in which he was slammed shut for just 31 yards on 19 carries, and it took him a full four games to get back to speed. He did finish that season strong with a 212 yard performance against Texas Tech that came with four rushing scores.
He runs with amazing burst from scrimmage, and is very powerful. He may be the strongest runner in the draft in terms of how much power he generates. Once he hits the hole, he blasts through it with an amazing speed gear changer that takes a fraction of a second to hit. Loves to create contact, and hits defenders with power.
He has excellent foot work, and keeps on driving through hits. Solid upper body strength allows for him to deliver rock solid straight arms. He can be a full three down back, and is powerful enough in goal line situations to score more than not. He has some ability as a receiver as well.
He has too much excitement when it comes to creating contact. Doe snot do enough to make tacklers miss and would rather run through them. He tends to lack IQ when it comes to creativity, and runs where he is supposed to, and does not spend too much time worrying about being creative in space.
He tends to out run his blocking, and does not use his speed change ability with finesse. He just jumps from one speed to another because he thinks he should, not because he should in a particular scenario.
He is not a great blocker in the passing game. May need to be removed from the field on obvious passing plays.
BY taking too many hits, he is an injury risk, and was hurt for a considerable part of 2016. It appeared at times that he was not entirely invested at LSU, and there was some chatter that he would sit out 2016. His inury, which cost him five games was a rather interesting coincidence given that pre-season chatter. He also sat out his bowl game to prepare for the draft after the 2016 season, making me question his dedication to the larger team rather than just himself, and he had a rather lame explanation for it after the fact, claiming that he had no say in the matter, which I just do not believe.
Fournette is exactly what you want on paper in an NFL back, but he needs to develop some pieces to his game, which is why it was such a waste to lose five games in 2016. He will need to be coached up on being more elusive, and he needs to work himself up to being more of an asset in the passing game as both a blocker and as a top flight out of the backfield receiver.
If he is on his A game, and he is invested, there is not a better back in this draft, and he is a top five player. If he is not fully invested, he's not worth the risk. Which version of him shows up on the next level is a complete mystery right now.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Cook was a three year starter for the Seminoles, and is an early entry after coming out post his junior season. As a freshman, Cook rushed for 1008 yards and eight scores, and averaged 5.93 yards per carry on 170 total carries. As a sophomore, Cook rushed for 1691 yards and 19 TDs on 229 carries in 13 games. As a junior, his final season, Cook rushed for a career high 1765 yards and 19 more scores, bringing his three year total to 46 TDs. He averaged 6.13 yards per carry in his final season on a career high 288 carries.
His footwork is A+ material, as he keeps moving his feet in traffic and during contact.
He was the first Florida State back to rush for 1000 yards or more for three straight seasons.
He has experience in zone, gap, and power schemes, showing value for a number of different schemes and teams.
He reads his blocks like a pro, and knows how to use fluctuating and fluid situations in space.
Unlike Fournette, he is able to use quick chopping movements to elude hits and defenders and create more room to run.
He always plays his best against the best, and is not easily intimidated.
He is a solid receiver at times, and is able to create in the field.
He has a red flag when it comes to past character flaws. Has been in trouble with the law on multiple occasions dating back to high school.
He does not run with as much power as Fournette, and tends to be more of a finesse back, and tends to favor running outside rather than hitting hard between the tackles. He goes down to tackle quickly rather than powering through them.
He does not have a great stiff arm ability, and lets plays die on the vine rather than seeking another lane or gear.
He has a fumbling issue, and has also experienced drop streaks in the passing game, which is a shame, because when he is on, he is a decent receiver.
May only be a two down back, as he is not a great blocker, and has those drop issues as a receiver.
As a player elevator, I tend to avoid red flag guys. Cook is a serious red flag risk, and if he goes to the wrong team, with not enough high character guys to mentor him, he will fail in this league, because he seems to be a trouble magnet. I am not a fan of players who hang out in bars during their college years, because it is too much about having a good time, and not enough about focus, and he has that issue as well.
He has a ton of talent running the football, and because of that, he will get drafted highly by a team that can overlook the off field issues, but I would let someone ese take that risk, and wait until the 3rd or 4th round to get a quality back at a steal of a price.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Over the last two seasons, one would be hard pressed to find a more dynamic college athlete than McCaffrey anywhere on the field. He enters the draft after three years at Stanford, two as a starter.
In 2014, he rushed for 300 yards on 42 carries, and did not score, and was a second option on kick and punt returns.
In 2015, he took over as a full time starter, and rushed for a whopping 2019 yards and eight scores, and averaged 5.99 yards per carry and 24.07 carries per game (337 total carries). He also added 1070 yards on kick returns, averaging 28.92 yards per return, and scored once. He averaged 8.67 yards per punt return, and also scored once in that area.
In 2016, McCaffrey suffered some injuries early on, but still managed to rush for 1603 yards and 13 TDs. He averaged 6.34 yards per carry, and averaged 23 carries per game (253 total carries). He added 318 yards on kick returns, and averaged 9.6 yards per return on punts.
He runs with a long smooth stride, and is very creative in the open field. Reads blocks effectively and shows first rate anticipation. Runs well in traffic, with first rate footwork.
Excellent protector of the football in traffic, and has shockingly solid upper body strength.
He is a very elusive and creative runner, and knows how to avoid tacklers.
He played in a pro set formation at Stanford, and is NFL ready.
Changes gears like a pro already, and has very good speed, especially in the open field.
Excellent as a receiver, and has top notch skills as a return man, giving him excellent value for the team drafting him.
Very well coached, and is a sponge when it comes to learning and improving.
He has well over 500 carries the last two seasons, and is coming off an injury plagued season, although he played through it like a warrior.
He does not have excellent size, and looks smaller in person than he probable is.
He is not a super powerful runner, and once he is hit, he tends to give up the play quickly. Will not run through anyone.
He is not a great pass blocker, and is strictly a receiver on passing downs. Does not sell out on blocks.
With his multifaceted value as a runner, receiver, and kick return man, McCaffrey becomes valuable in the 1st round, but if you grade him strictly on his value of any one individually, he probably looks more like a second or early third rounder. With his kind of value and ability al around, he is a very nice addition to anyone who needs a gutty player who can do it all.
D'Onta Foreman, Texas
Foreman entered Texas as the lessor of the two most prized recruits with his brother out of high school, but as these things tend to happen, D'Onta became the prize eventually. He only started one full season for the Horns, but worked his way into the starting job slowly.
As a freshman, Foreman rushed for just 74 yards on 16 carries. As a sophomore, he rushed for a team leading 681 yards on a bad football team. He carried the ball just 95 times, and scored five times.
As a junior, he exploded onto the scene nationally, rushing for 2028 yards and 15 scores. He carried the rock 323 times and averaged 6.28 yards per carry, and over 184 yards per game.
He is a very hard worker, and was patient coming up through the system, waiting on his turn to shine.
For a man his size, he is very fluid as a runner, and is very athletic.
Smooth finesse runner who sees the field well, and knows to wait for plays to develop.
Excellent hip movement, makes tacklers miss.
Excellent hurdler, avoiding leg tacklers.
If you don't wrap him up, he will shake you.
Uses his size in contact to bounce off bad tackles.
He is always running north/south, and avoids losing yards.
He is excellent in short yardage conversion, and has adequate power to churn through goal line plays.
Was never over used at Texas, and has plenty of miles left on him.
He does not have great hands, and has a tendency to fumble at times.
Despite his solid size, he does not use it enough, and tries to be more a finesse back than a power back.
He does not possess multiple gears for speed, and can be one dimensional, and is still a bit raw in technique.
Kind of like Lawrence Maroney of the Patriots back in the day in that he is not a creator. He runs through the proscribed hole, whether the play is there or not.
He looks like an albatross in pass blocking, and is just not good at it, making him a two down back only.
Foreman is a back that could have benefited from another year in school based on his extremely small sample size. He was not a premier runner until 2016, so there is no telling if this was the real player, or just a fluke.
Based on his size and raw ability, I project him as a second rounder, but would not be surprised to see him slip based on him being such a mystery, and for being as raw as he is. The good news is that he has the patience to wait and learn, and work his way into a role, and likely will not pout during the process. I like his potential, but he needs some work.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Samuel has never been a full time starter at running back, and may still be a player that translates better as a receiver in the NFL. He played both positions for the Buckeyes. As a freshman, Samuel rushed for 383 yards and six scores. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry on 58 carries. As a sophomore, he ran for just 132 yards and one score, but averaged 7.72 yards per carry. As a junior, he ran for 771 yards on 97 carries, and scored eight times, and averaged 7.95 yards per carry. As a receiver, he posted 11-95-0 as a freshman, 22-289-2 as a sophomore, and he led the team in 2016 as a junior by posting 74-865-7.
Has first rate speed, and is a match up nightmare in the slot.
Can lineup anywhere on the field on the offensive side.
Has a quick change of direction while running routes.
Creates excellent separation as a receiver.
He can really fly in top gear, and changes gears without much effort.
Has experience in return game, adding some value as an athlete.
Can be explosive out of the backfield with great blocking.
If he gets matched up properly, he can get jammed at the line.
He is not as fluid as you would expect, and is more a straight line guy.
He tends to make body catches rather than using his hands properly.
Played in a system offense, and really does not have a natural position.
Is not entirely athletic as a receiver, and does not adjust to the ball well.
Cannot block at all, and has never been asked to.
Samuel is a man without a real position. He is not a natural running back, but is not a natural WR either. He is an athlete that is a nice fit for now as a slot receiver, because that is how he translates with his skill set. He wil either be drafted in the higher rounds based on athletic potential, or he could go undrafted, and that is as wide as the opinions on him flow in the scouting community.
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
McNichols is a very nice all-purpose back who is as strong a receiver as he is as a runner. He also has value in the kick return game. As a freshman, he had his redshirt removed in game six for the Broncos. He rushed for 159 yards and a score, and averaged 9.35 yards per carry. He added 15 recepttions for 155 yards and a score, and returned 19 kicks for 393 yards. As a sophomore in 2015, he rushed for a team leading 1337 yards and 20 scores, while averaging 5.57 yards per carry on 240 total carries. He also caught 51 passes for 460 yards and six scores. He returned only five kicks for 79 yards. As a junior in 2016, McNichols carried the ball 314 times for 1709 yards and 23 scores. He also caught 37 passes for 474 yards and four scores. He returned only four kicks for 72 yards.
Fluid athlete with smooth transitional running ability in traffic. Can change direction on a dime, and has fluid hip movement for evasion.
Excellent vision and running IQ, waits for plays to develop in front of him and reads well. Follows hi blocks like a pro, and make his own space when necessary.
Is solid between the tackles, and doesn't mind some contact.
Is very good at shrinking himself in space, and does not run upright.
Excellent body control. If you don't wrap him up, you lose him.
Excellent receiver out of the backfield, and can be used in motion to line up wide.
Very productive player with solid value across the board.
He is more fluid and athletic than powerful, and may need to add some power in his lower body to be an every down back in the NFL. Is not as physical as other backs can be.
His speed is one dimensional, and he is not a great gear changer.
Does not make much after first contact, and when you usually tackle him properly, he does not shake very well, and will let the play die with that hit.
Once he is in the second level of play, he does not create much. Can be caught.
He has had some fumble issues.
He is not a great pass blocker, so he may translate to a two down or rotational back in the NFL.
McNichols has a ton of value as a runer and as a receiver, but he has his limits as well. Still, if you can use him in a two back rotation, he could be quite effective. I see him succeeding on the next level based on his ability to produce, and he has a strong work ethic. By year or two in the league, he should be very good.
Brian Hill, Wyoming
Hill was a three year starter for the Cowboys, and led them in rushing all three years. He has rushed for over 3400 yards the last two seasons, and was one of the most productive players in the nation, albeit quietly, as he did not receive a ton of exposure playing for the Cowboys.
As a freshman, Hill rushed for 796 yards on 145 carries, and scored seven times while averaging 5.49 yards per carry. As a sophmore, Hill exploded for 1631 yards on 281 carries, and scored six times. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry. As a junior, Hill ran for 1860 yards and scored a career high 22 times, while averaging 5.33 yards per carry.
Solid worker between the tackles, and does not go down easily.
Excellent pass blocker, and will commit. Has solid hands and keeps his head up at contact.
He can be an excellent receiver, but Wyoming did not use him much. When he does work as a receiver, he has solid skill and soft hands.
Extremely productive the last two seasons.
Solid character guy.
Does not have burner speed, or much of a change of gear. Is a straight ahead runner.
He will need a top flight O line to give hi room to work, as he does not do well when trying to create something out of nothing.
He will hesitate before hitting the line if nothing is there, and he will lose yardage.
Is not enough of a north/south runner.
He is a bit on the thin side, and lacks power because of it. A little long for a RB.
Although he has several drawbacks, one cannot ignore that Hill was a super productive back the last two seasons, and was a major key component in the resurgence of the Wyoming football program, specifically in 2016. Hill is the kind of back that when he puts it all together, could be a game changing kind of player. If drafted in the right spot, by the right team, with the right staff in place, Hill could very well flourish on the next level.
Wayne Gallman, Clemson
Gallman was the third fiddle in the Clemson offense, specifically in 2016, behind DeShaun Watson and Mike Williams, but he still managed to finish All-ACC the last two seasons running. He took over as a starter for nine games as a freshman, and led the team with 769 yards rushing. He scored four times, and averaged 4.78 yards per carry on 161 carries. He also caught 24 passes that season for 108 yards.
As a sophomore, Gallman broke loose for 1527 yards and 13 scores, while averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 283 carries, as he became a work horse in the Clemson running game. He added 21 receptions for 233 yards and one score as a receiver.
His overall carries reduced in 2016 as a junior to 232. He still managed to run for 1133 yards and 17 scores, but saw his average per carry drop to 4.88. He caught 20 passes out of the backfield as well.
Runs physically to the point where arm tackles will not work against him, and he uses a good burst getting to the second level.
He keeps moving his feet after contact, and has solid footwork fundamentals.
Knows how to lower the pads and deliver punishment to tacklers.
He has enough speed to jump out and burst around the edge, and has enough hip work to make tacklers miss while accelerating.
Confident in short yardage and red zone play. A total package four down back.
Has some ability as a receiver out of the backfield on safety routes.
His running style makes him sloppy at short cuts, and he lacks complete body control.
Gets gummed up sometimes running between the tackles.
Has good burst and speed, but is not explosive.
He can be indecisive and will not break down blocking quickly. Misses lanes, and takes to much time setting up a play. Will outrun his blockers.
Does not run with finesse, and can be a bit all over the place.
He is not a long yardage runner, as he finished under five yards per carry in two of three seasons at Clemson.
He can run too upright at times.
Is not adept at pass blocking, making him a two down back.
Gallman has never been one of my favorite backs, and I think that despite being overshadowed by Watson, he still could have done much more. He lacks a burst of excitement, and you feel rather blah watching him run at times. He could be a decent rotation back one day, but overall, I am really flat on him.
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Perine, despite standing out in any one way, is a back that has scouts excited across the board, as he was amazingly productive at Oklahoma. He exploded onto the national scene as a freshman, rushing for 1713 yards and 21 scores, while averaging 6.51 yards per carry, on 20.23 carries per game. He lowered his carries as a sophomore, and ran for 1349 yards and another 16 TDs, averaging 5.97 yards per carry on 17.38 carries per game. As a junior in 2016, Perine rushed for 1060 yards and 12 scores, while averaging 5.41 yards per carry. He averaged 19.6 carries per game, splitting time with Joe Mixon.
He is built like a human wrecking ball, and is naturally low to the ground. He can slip through seems in between the tackles and come out the other side with ease. He has a powerful lower body that he keeps constantly churning.
He cannot be arm tackles, as he runs with authority. He is quite punishing as a runner.
Excellent pad leverage, and rarely allows defenders to get under.
He is very efficient with his running style, and is not at all wasteful with his movement.
Excellent field vision, and high IQ runner.
He is solid as a receiver, and has top shelf hands.
Broke the single game college rushing record as a freshman with 437 yards against Kansas.
A scoring machine. He scored 49 TDs in three seasons.
Can run too powerfully at times, and can lack finesse.
Ran a 4.65 40 at the combine, so his speed and gear changing ability are in question.
He is more of a front line runner, and lacks edge speed.
He has had ankle injury concerns, and his production decreased each season at Oklahoma.
Perine is not for everyone, but if you need a power back who runs with abandon, he is your guy. He will never wow you with his speed, but if you have a top flight O line, this guy could be special running behind it. He will have to learn a little more finesse, but he is a smart player with a ton of confidence, and is a high character guy who could be a solid locker room presence, and he can be coached. He is a hard worker that should have excellent value in the 3rd round of this draft.
Kareem Hunt, Toledo
Hunt was a rare four year player at Toledo, and will go down as one of the greatest Rocket backs in school history. As a freshman, Hunt shared the load with David Fluellen. He rushed for 866 yards and six scores, and averaged 6.32 yards per carry, on 11.42 carries per game. As a sophomore, he became the lead back, and ran for 1631 yards and 16 scores despite missing two games. He averaged 7.96 yards per carry on 20.5 carries per game. As a junior, Hunt missed three games, and still managed to rush for 973 yards and scored 12 times. He averaged 5.47 yards per carry on 19.78 carries per game.
Hunt played in all 13 games as a senior, and rushed for 1475 yards and 10 scores, and averaged 5.63 yards per carry. He averaged 20.15 carries per game.
Hunt exploded as a receiver as a senior as well, catching 41 passes for 403 yards and a score.
He has a powerful body and compact frame that is perfect for the position.
Instinctual runner with solid field vision, knows when to make the right cuts.
Can bounce outside from a straight line run, and knows how to read his blocks.
He became a solid receiver, and has solid hands in the passing game.
He is not a great accelerator. Does not change gears effectively, and lacks burst speed. A one dimensional runner.
He is an evasive runner, and does not do the contact thing all that well.
He is not all that creative in space, and the run dies when he tends to get hit.
Although he learned how to be a receiver, he is not great as a pass blocker, and will not sell out for a block.
Was suspended during his junior season for rules violations.
Has had a history of ankle injuries that could be concerning.
Is best in a zone run game, but not a lot more.
Hunt is a back that is best served in a zone run scheme, and really has very little experience doing anything else. He follows the script, but is not overly creative. He could have been more productive in college, and die to injuries and suspension, he missed some really good opportunities. He won't be for everyone, but can find a place in a system that uses rotational backs.
Jamaal Williams, BYU
Williams was a four year player at BYU, but missed all of 2015 due to personal reasons. He has also missed parts of seasons with injury issues.
He led the team in rushing as a freshman with 775 yards and 12 scores, and averaged 4.75 yards per carry on 12.77 carries per game. He played in all 13 games that season.
As a sophomore, he carried 217 times with 1233 yards from the effort, and he scored seven times. He averaged 5.68 yards per carry, and averaged 18.08 carries per game.
As a junior, Williams finished with 515 yards in just eight games, and averaged 4.68 yards per carry on 13.75 carries per game. He lost games to a knee injury and a suspension for underage drinking.
He missed all of 2015, and then returned in 2016, and rushed for 1375 yards and 12 scores on 23.4 carries per game, and had a five score game against Toledo in a shootout win over the Rockets.
Williams is a punishing runner who was very difficult to bring down during his senior season. The year off had him looking refreshed.
He looks bigger than he is on paper. Has a powerful build in person, and looks the part.
A go for it runner. Once he sees the hole, he hits it and keeps on going.
Has a few tricks as a runner to make tacklers miss, and delivers a powerful stiff arm.
Has a powerful lower body, and can drive through tacklers. If you don't wrap him, you lose him.
Solid hands, and does not turn the ball over.
He has a tendency to run like a bull, and lacks finesse at times.
Will outrun his blockers on occasion.
Does not have top level speed, and can be a one dimensional runner.
More of a full head of steam runner rather than a creator at times. This improved in his senior season, as he was highly productive without having a great line in front of him.
Does not always have the best body control in traffic. Runs with one stance, and does not shrink up very well.
Injury history in a big way between knee and ankles. Concerning.
Williams, to me, is a pure power back who can beat you down while running north/south. He does not have top flight speed, but he does remind me of LeGerrette Blount in that regard, and Blount has plenty of value. If you get him in a rotation on the next level, he could have incredible value, but I would hesitate to make him an every down back. You also have to consider his injury history, and he showed a lack of maturity as late as his junior year with alcohol being a factor.
Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Mixon is the most controversial player in the draft in 2017. He was redshirted in 2014 as a means of a suspension for punching a woman in a deli the previous year. For that reason, he was not invited to the 2017 NFL combine.
Mixon rushed for 753 yards as a RS freshman in 2015, averaging 6.7 yards per carry on 8.69 carries per game. He caught 28 passes for 356 yards and four scores as well.
Mixon became the leading rusher for the Sooners in 2016, running for 1274 yards on 187 carries. He averaged 6.81 yards per carry on 15.58 carries per game. He added 37 receptions for 538 yards and five scores. Mixon returned 21 kicks for 494 yards and a score, and returned four punts as well.
Explosive runner who picks up huge chunks of yardage.
Multi-purpose back who is a solud runner and receiver, and can return kicks as well.
Powerful build, and looks the part.
Shows enough speed and fluidity to make players miss on tackles.
He has very high football IQ as a runner, and has excellent field vision, and waits for his blockers to set up plays.
Excellent pad work, and finishes runs strong.
Has soft hands as a receiver, and runs strong routes as well, making him a real weapon in the passing game.
Good, but not elite level speed. He gets to the next gear, but there is not another one beyond that.
Although he can have solid hands as a receiver, he does not always take care of the ball as a runner, and can get careless with ball handling.
He can be known to run a bit upright, leaving him open for big hits.
Does not grade out well as a pass blocker, but you have to have his receiving skills on the field in late down situations.
Getting by his off-field issues with the assault on a woman, no matter if he has improved his behavior since then or not, will be difficult to get by for many teams, and several teams will not consider him on their board for that reason. He has all of the tools, minus elite speed, of a very special player, but the character red flag can be seen for miles, and that is going to cost him big time. He will be in the league, most likely, but he has a very small window, and fewer fits.
De'Veon Smith, Michigan
Smith was a four year player at Michigan. As a freshman, he carried 26 times for 117 yards, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. As a sophomore, he carried the ball 108 times for 519 yards, and scored six times. He averaged 4.81 yards per carry. He led the team once again as a junior with 753 yards on 180 carries. He averaged 4.18 yards per carry. He rushed for 846 yards and scored a career high 10 times as a senior.
Smith is a power back who is solid between the tackles.
He runs with vision, and a feel for opening lanes.
He plots a direction and sticks with it, runs with conviction.
Arm tackles won't work against him, and he finishes runs strong. Legs keep churning after contact.
Never rushed for 1000 yards in a season through four years at Michigan.
Does not have enough speed to hit the edge, and does not have breakaway speed in open field situations.
His lack of quick movement allows tacklers to catch up to him.
He is not very creative.
Needs solid blockers ahead of him, or he is going down.
Smith is not a high number back, and had average production at Michigan. He lacks great breakaway speed, and is limited to two down duty. He has no value as a receiver or a pass blocker, so he is limited to power football situations. He earns a grade of a 4th round pick by the scouts, but I feel he is better valued in the later rounds.
Corey Clement, Wisconsin
Clement has largely had an inconsistent career at Wisconsin, and only fully grabbed the reins of the RB job during his senior season. He played in 11 games as a freshman, and ran for 547 yards and eight TDs as a backup to Melvin Gordon. He continued in the backup role as a sophomore, and moved up from third to second in rushing with 949 yards and nine scores. He averaged 8.16 yards per carry as a freshman, and 6.46 per carry as a sophomore.
As a junior, Clement came off the rails. He played in only four games, as he lost time to a sports hernia, and then hand a hand injury that was the result of him punching someone during an altercation in an elevator, and incident that he was not truthful about with the staff initially. In those four games, Clement rushed for just 221 yards, and saw his per carry average plummet to 4.6. He also only scored five times, and averaged just 55.25 yards per game.
He returned stronger as a senior, and led the team with a career high 1375 yards and 15 TDs, but his YPC averaged continued to drop like a rock to just 4.38. He did, however, finish with another career high with over 24 carries per game.
He has a built frame, and runs with severe lower power, and cannot be arm tackles or torpedoed from flying DBs.
Has very good short range cut ability, and is athletic enough to power through his moves.
He has excellent foot work traits, and can turn a few moves into a long run by evasion.
Very difficult to bring down in the open field, and can show enough burst to break free.
The word on Clement is that he shows very poor leadership traits, and thinks that certain rules or policies do not apply to him.
While he shows solid burst, his overall speed level is not great. He generally displays one dimensional speed.
On film, he can look somewhat smaller than he is.
He is an indecisive runner at times, and get taken down because of it.
Does not hit the hole between the tackles with authority at all times.
Does not follow blockers as well as he should, and is impatient waiting for lanes to open.
Is not a creator, and is a bull in a china shop. Shows no finesse as a runner.
Will not be useful on passing downs, and will be limited to a two down role.
Only proved to be the man in one of four years, and got a big head when he finally had his shot.
His stats in year four are reminiscent of someone on a free agent year, finally stringing it together only because everything was on the line to get paid.
Scouts around the NFL are tagging Clement as a bit of a character issue guy. Think Brent Moss as a comparison, but not quite that bad, just bad enough.
His overall production is spotty at best, and he seems to be too self centered to make it work on the next level. He has raw talent, and that will have someone taking a flyer on him in the middle rounds, but if you don't expect too much of him, you might not be let down.
Marlon Mack, South Florida
Mack was a three year player for the Bulls, and started all three seasons. He was also first team all-conference in each of his seasons in Tampa, and finished as the USF all-time leading rusher.
Mack stepped right into the dominant starting role as a freshman, and carried 202 times for 1041 yards and nine scores. He averaged 16.83 carries per game, and 5.15 YPC. As a sophomore, Mack continued to impress, as he ran 210 times for 1381 yards and eight scores, while averaging 17.5 carries per game. He averaged 6.58 YPC that season. As a junior in 2016, Mack ran for 1187 yards on 174 carries, as he shared more carries in the offense with QB Quinton Flowers. He averaged 14.5 carries per game, and finished with a career high 6.82 YPC.
Excellent foot work and has his hips in a swivel. He has first rate moves, and is top shelf at evasion.
His foot work is a thing of beauty, and he has amazing ability to kick runs outside and pop from gap to gap.
Runs with excellent pad placement, and can run like a battering ram. Shrinks himself up into a bowling ball when he has to.
He has very good open field speed, and once he hits open land, he is gone.
Has shown a willingness to work in the passing game, has decent hands as a receiver.
Is more of a speed runner than a power runner, and does not use enough physicality. He does not finish runs strongly, and can be brought down, as he is inconsistent when trying to be more physical.
Spends too much time trying to hit the home run rather than taking what is given, relying too much on his open field ability.
Can be indecisive between the tackles.
Tries to take plays wide rather than seeing a hole on sweeps and punching through.
Questionable ball security, as he has a reputation as a fumbler.
Probably needs to add some bulk to his frame, but the concern is that it would take away from his speed game.
I like Mack a ton, but he is a system back, and will not fit every offense across the board. He may need some time in a committee approach, and may always need to be in that role. He became more effective the less he was used in any given season, and finished behind his QB in rushing yards in 2016. All of these things take him down a couple of rounds in most books, but his rare talent is undeniable, he just needs to be more confident as a power back, and has to spend more time learning how to balance his speed/finesse game with a developing power game. I would draft him in the middle rounds, but he needs some coaching up to play in an NFL system. He's worth the development in my book.
Matt Dayes, NC State
Dayes was a four year player at NC State. As a freshman, he gained 252 yards on 63 carries, averaging 5.73 carries per game, and four YPC. As a sophomore, he got more involved, and rushed for 573 yards on 104 carries, averaging eight carries per game. He scored eight times, and averaged 5.51 YPC. As a junior, Dayes became the leader, as he rushed for 865 yards ans 12 scores, averaging 16.75 carries per game and 6.46 YPC. He did miss five games in 2015 with a turf toe injury.
Dayes came back strong in 2016, and exploded for 1166 yards on 249 carries. He scored ten times, and averaged a career high 19.15 carries per game, and averaged 4.68 YPC.
Multidimensional player who is serviceable as a receiver and return man as well. Seemed to improve most areas of his game with each passing season. A worker.
Patent runner that allows plays to develop.
Excellent vision downfield, and gets a step ahead in development of plays.
Body control in a phone booth is top flight. Play well in tight space.
Can make a few moves to extend plays.
Can play tight at times, and lacks top shelf physicality.
Is small, so he really depends on his finesse game.
An easy tackle. You hit him, he is going down.
Average speed. Depends on shifty moves to evade, and has a hard time breaking the long run.
Dayes looks like a career backup with some special value as a 3rd down back, and on special teams. which is why I gave him a 5th round grade. He could be a very nice value pick in the later rounds for someone who needs an athlete, and not a specific positional need at RB.
James Conner, Pittsburgh
Conner was a full four year player at Pitt, despite missing all but one game in 2015 as he was battling health issues related to leukemia. He started as a freshman, and led the team in rushing with 799 yards and eight scores on 146 carries. He averaged 12.17 carries per game, and 5.47 YPC. As a sophomore, Conner lit up the world with a star performance. He led the team once again with 1765 yards rushing on 298 carries, and he scored an amazing 26 rushing TDs. He averaged 22.92 carries per game, and 5.92 YPC, and he became a household name in the college football world.
His junior season was all but erased, as he was diagnosed with leukemia, and played in just one game as a result. He carried eight times for 77 yards and scored twice, as was typical of his standard efforts.
As a senior, Conner returned healthy, and came back to rush for 1092 yards on 216 carries. He scored 16 times, and averaged 16.62 carries per game, and averaged 5.06 YPC.
Hard, physical runner who can use his physicality to grind out extra yardage.
Hard worker, and team leader. Supremely high character level.
Returned from illness physically stronger.
Has perfected pad level, and knows how to use them.
The epitome of powerful runner. Uses nasty stiff arm and brute strength to his advantage.
Lower body is a power plant.
Solid body control, and he can make his own holes.
Knows how to find the end zone with regularity.
A go to guy on the goal line and in the red zone.
Solid pass blocker, and will sell out for blocks.
Excellent receiver on passing downs.
Conner does not have elite speed, and depends often on his physical style of running to make things happen.
He is not a creator in the run game, and when he tries to be, it is detrimental.
Purely a power back, and plays with zero finesse. Bull in a china shop.
He does not have excellent field vision, and often just goes for it without seeing the whole picture.
The medical issues are always going to be in the background for him, and will concern some teams, which is why he is not graded out higher.
If not for his illness in 2015, Conner would likely be graded out as a 2nd round pick, but he rates as a 5th rounder here. He is a pure power back who can punch the ball into the end zone, and he is a natural when it comes to high character, which is important, or at least should be. If you are looking for a short yardage specialist and goal line threat, Conner is your guy, but he can do more as well. He just needs the right break with the right staff.
Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
Pumphrey finished his career as the all-time rushing leader in FBS history for the Aztecs, eclipsing Ron Dayne's mark in the Las Vegas Bowl win over Houston in December.
Pumphery was a four year player for the Aztecs, and was a starter for three of those seasons. As a freshman, he backed up Adam Muema, and rushed for 752 yards and eight scores, while averaging 9.62 carries per game, and 6.02 YPC. As a sophomore, he became the starter, and rushed for 1873 yards and 20 scores, and averaged 21.31 carries and 6.76 YPC on 277 carries in 13 games. He continued strong as a junior, and ran for 1653 yards and 17 scores. He carries the football 309 times, and averaged 22.07 carries per game, and 5.35 YPC.
As a senior, Pumphrey finished strong, rushing for a whopping 2133 yards on 349 carries. He scored 17 more TDs, and averaged 6.11 YPC, and 24.93 carries per game.
Super productive in every way. One of the best players in the nation in the college game over the last three seasons.
Very fast on the scale of things, as he ran a 4.48 40.
Has excellent field vision and knows when to make his moves.
Runs well in traffic, keeps solid body control in tight spaces.
Good enough at kicking outside, but does not fear tucking up inside between the tackles.
Very shifty, seriously strong at stringing moves together.
Has another gear in the open field, and is tough to catch.
Has receiving skills, with route running ability of a wide out.
Lacks necessary size. Warrick Dunn size.
Is not powerful, and uses finesse and is mostly dependent on it.
Does not have size and power enough to bounce off of tackles. Hit him and he goes down.
Will not be able to block on passing downs.
Very much like former Aztec back Ronnie Hillman, but with more skill.
Pumphrey was one of the most dynamic players in college football, but was underexposed nationally. He did not receive near the media attention that former Aztec Marshall Faulk received, but he was more productive by the numbers. Pumphrey is a bit undersized, but you cannot deny that he has ability. He gets drafted in the later rounds, but he is a diamond in the rough. Use him wisely, and he is a home run. Probably the highest value back that will get drafted later than he should.
Aaron Jones, UTEP
Jones was one of the all-time greats in El Paso during his four year stay, despite missed time due to injury in two separate seasons. As a freshman, Jones led the team with 811 yards rushing and four scores. He averaged 17.22 carries per game, and 5.23 yards per carry in nine games. As a sophomore, Jones rushed for 1321 yards and 11 scores on 242 carries. He averaged 20.17 carries and 5.46 YPC. His junior year fell of the rails, as he missed 10 games with a ruptured ankle ligament, and finished with 209 yards on just 39 carries. He averaged 16 carries per game, and 6.53 yards per carry, which was a career high up to that point. As a senior, he blew up to rush for 1773 yards and 17 scores, while averaging 19.08 carries per game (229 total carries). He averaged a new career high 7.74 YPC.
As a sophomore, Jones was second on the team with 30 receptions for 293 yards and three scores. He had caught 9 passes for 106 yards and a score before the injury ended his junior season, and as a senior, he caught 28 balls for 233 yards and three scores.
A seriously productive back when healthy.
Low body build gives him some power to move through tackles, and he is difficult to arm tackle.
Was seriously under recruited out of high school and worked his way up.
Was All-CUSA as a sophomore and a senior, and likely would have been as a junior as well, if not for the injury.
Has enough moves to string together to break a long run here and there.
Is a decent safety valve out of the backfield on passing downs.
Good, but not blazing speed for his size. Lacks a second and third gear.
Has never played for a winner, and has no experience playing in that role.
Maxed out in carries per game as a sophomore, and has never had to carry a seriously heavy workload.
May be best suited as a rotational back, maybe specializing as a 3rd down back.
Works best in zone schemes, and needs blockers to line up perfectly.
Adds no value as a kick return man, with limited special teams ability.
Jones figures to be a late round grab, but has some upside moving forward with the right coaching. He is a decent back for passing downs, but I do not see him as an every down back at the next level, and the injury can be a concern moving forward. He has late draft value, and is worth a risk for the right team.
Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-Lafayette
McGuire was a four year player for the Ragin' Cajuns. As a freshman, he was the second leading rusher on the team with 863 yards and eight TDs on 103 carries. He averaged 7.92 carries per game, and 8.38 yards per carry. He also added 22 receptions for 384 yards and three scores as a receiver, making him the third best receiver on the team.
As a sophomore, McGuire finished with 1264 yards as the rushing leader on the team. He scored 14 times on 166 carries, and averaged 7.61 yards per carry on just 12.61 carries per game. He was the second leading receiver on the team with 45 catches for 468 yards and two scores.
As a junior, McGuire ran for 1047 yards on 209 carries, and scored 13 times. He averaged 17.42 carries per game, a career high, but dropped to 5.01 YPC. He fell to fourth on the team in receiving, with a line of 34-304-3.
As a senior, McGuire was hampered by a foot injury, and rushed for 1127 yards on 232 carries. He scored just seven times, and averaged 17.85 carries per game, with a career low 4.86 YPC. He finished fourth on the team once again as a receiver, with a line of 29-238-2.
Finished with over 4000 yards rushing.
Sun Belt freshman of the year.
Conference player of the year as a sophomore.
Highly productive back who is also a very good receiver out of the backfield.
Can return punts.
Solid ball security guy who limits turnovers.
Thick lower body with power to churn away.
Excellent cut back ability.
Can line up in the slot, and is a solid route runner as a receiver.
Does not have excellent body control at all times.
Field vision is average, and eyes are not always in the right place.
Will not allow blockers to set up, and will outrun his blocks.
Solid receiver, but poor pass blocker.
Will not break tackles easily, and does not run with a ton of power.
Good speed, but not great, and does not possess multiple gears.
Seems to be more productive the less he is used.
There is a lingering concern over a foot injury that may have hampered him as a senior.
McGuire is a back that lacks a complete package on any given level. It seems that the more that is asked of him, the more he drops off in play. He is best utilized as a special teams guy, rather than being identified as a running back that can crack a starting lineup. He is worth a shot, but he is going to have to do some work on the next level. Definite late round pick, but I would not be shocked to see him fall off the board into UFA territory.
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee: Getting some love after workouts, but never produced at a high level.
Joe Yearby, Miami: Lost starting job as a senior, but has some athletic skill. Not draftable.
Jahad Thomas, Temple: Had one solid season as a producer, and it was not in 2016.
Darius Victor, Towson: Small school power runner should get shot in camp.
Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State: Junior transferred from Stanford, has family lineage.
Elijah Hood, North Carolina: Under productive, had one solid season at UNC.
Boom Williams, Kentucky: Scat back with some speed, but does nothing great.
Shock Linwood, Baylor: Left school before bowl to prep for draft, likely won't be drafted.
Justin Davis, USC: Not a special runner from a RB school.
Torean Folston, Notre Dame: Led the team in rushing as a sophomore, then disappeared for two years.