Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy (42) runs with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NFL Scouting Combine Preview – Running Backs


Running Backs

The emergence of the passing game has really devalued the running back position.  Gone are the days of packing the first round full of ball carriers.  Teams put more priority on wide receivers and pass catching tight ends or defenders to rush the quarterback than they do on running the rock.  Sure, MVP Adrian Peterson ran the Vikings to the playoffs, but he’s a once in a decade kind of talent.  I don’t think there are any Peterson’s in this draft class. 

What to Watch

In running backs, straight line speed is obviously a big component of their game (see Chris Johnson), but it’s not the only thing.  Quickness and change of direction shown in the shuttle runs and the 3-cone drill should also weigh heavily.  Look for strength with the bench press too; you don’t want a weakling toting around your precious rock.

Top Prospects

  1. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
  2. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
  3. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
  4. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
  5. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
  6. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers
  7. Stephan Taylor, Stanford

 

Analysis

The 2012 class had a couple of impact runners go in the first round in Trent Richardson, third overall to the Cleveland Browns and Doug Martin to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the 31st selection.  David Wilson was also a first rounder, going 32nd to the New York Giants, but he struggled to find the field until late in the season.  The Washington Redskins found late round gold with the selection of Alfred Morris in the 6th round.  Richardson clearly had the pre-draft hype last season and largely lived up to it.

The top runners of the 2013 class rank as late first or early second round selections.  Montee Ball comes in with a pretty good resume with the NCAA record for touchdowns with 83 total.  Eddie Lacy showed well in the national championship game as tough to bring down, which could translate well to Sundays.

The Bears

The Bears are pretty well set at the top of their running back position with big investments last ofseason to resign Matt Forte and bring in free agent Michael Bush around the goal line.  Forte had a down year, but it was in large part to the scheme and play calling.  Despite running behind a rag-tag offensive line, Forte still managed to eclipse the 1000 yard mark, but his overall production dipped in the passing game where Mike Martz utilized him well.  Bush appears to be the answer to the short yardage and goal line back, but offered little else last season except some untimely fumbles and an injury late in the season that sidelined him when the Bears needed him most.

Don’t expect the Bears to do much in the draft at the running back position.  With just five selections and many other holes to fill, I really doubt the Bears will look to add anyone via the draft, but don’t be surprised if the Bears look to add an undrafted free agent as a third down or change of pace back to spell Forte.  I would also keep an eye out for any undrafted fullbacks.  While Evan Rodriguez filled the H-back/fullback role last season, I would expect Marc Trestman’s offense to employ a legit fullback.

What do you think?  Are there any impact runners in the pack?  Who will make a difference on Sundays from the 2013 draft class?

Up tomorrow, wide receivers

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