Sunday, April 1, 2012

NFL Draft Breakdown: Running Backs

(Photo: themajors.net)
Today, I will be breaking down the top three running backs in the NFL draft this year (arguably). This year the draft is not very deep at the running back position. Much like the quarterbacks, there are only a few (two to be exact) that are expected to go in the first round. Let's take a closer at the top three running backs.

Trent Richardson (Alabama)
Last season, the Heisman finalist had a solid year for the Crimson Tide. He rushed for 1,679 yards with 21 touchdowns. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

Standing at 5-11 and weighing in at around 225 pounds, Richardson has the stature of former Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Richardson style, however, is far different. Richardson hits the hole low and hard and powers through it as if he's running a goal line play. However, once he gets through the hole, he rises up and turns on the jets. He's got great vision and sees/uses the whole field when he runs. He also holds the ball high-and-tight to avoid fumbles.

One thing I would like to see more of is his ability to catch the ball. He only had 29 receptions last season. More and more now are NFL running backs expected to catch the ball and become a fifth receiver.

Lamar Miller (Miami of Florida)
Last season, Miller had a productive season for the Hurricanes. He rushed for 1,272 yards with nine touchdowns. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry.

The big thing that pops out to me when watching Miller play is his speed. His biggest attribute is his speed. The 'Canes used him a lot as a return man and I expect him to primarily be a returner in the NFL. He has quick feet and decent vision, but, I just don't see him as a primary running back. He will get reps at the running back position, but he will make his money on special teams.

A way he could have a huge impact on any team is receiving. With his speed, he could be a lethal slot receiver or third-down-and-long type of back. If he can catch the ball consistently, he will find a home in the NFL.

Doug Martin (Boise State)
Martin, a senior for the Broncos this past season, had his most productive season in 2011. He ran 1,299 yards and found the endzone 16 times. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

When watching Doug Martin on tape, I don't really see anything that makes him stand out. He's got a good burst, good feet, and he runs hard. He is a solid running back. He holds the football high and tight; although sometimes it does hang loose and vulnerable. He is a solid mid-round running back. Will he start? No. Can he contribute? Certainly.

Martin follows the trend of the other two: hands. If he can prove that he has good hands and can catch the football, he will get his chance.

All three of these running backs will find a home at the next level. They all have one big thing that they need to prove: hands. Catching the ball out of the backfield is becoming a cornerstone to some offenses.

Expect Richardson to go in the top ten. Miller will most likely go in the second round and I anticipate Martin going either late in the second round or early in the third round.