2016 NFL Draft Rankings: Running Back

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

8.) Paul Perkins, UCLA (6’1 | 225 | 4.50)

Has been a productive back for the Bruins the last two seasons (2,915 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns) showing above-average patience, vision, and balance. Perkins has quick feet and the ability to change directions without losing speed. He’s willing to lower his shoulder to gain a few extra yards and has the ability to catch out of the backfield (56 receptions). Perkins doesn’t have one trait that really stands out, but doesn’t have any clear flaws either. He could be a good value pick in the middle rounds.

9.) Jonathan Williams, Arkansas (5’11 | 219 | 4.56)

Missed the 2015 season with a foot injury and still wasn’t 100% at the Senior Bowl, making him a bit of an injury risk in the draft. Williams was the power half of a platoon with Alex Collins and was productive with 1190 yards (5.6 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. Unless he can prove he’s 100% healthy before the draft, Williams will most likely slip to day 3.

10.) Wendell Smallwood, West Virginia (5’11 | 201 | 4.47)

Came out of nowhere in 2015 to lead the Big12 in rushing yards with 1,519. Smallwood has elite acceleration and break-away speed in the open-field. He also has soft hands out of the backfield and is an explosive kick-returner. On the down-side, Smallwood lacks the bulk and power to be an every down back. His speed through the hole and ability to make people miss in space could get him drafted earlier than expected and Smallwood could be a weapon from day one.

11.) Daniel Lasco, Cal (6’0 | 205 | 4.53) 

Was held to just 65 carries last season due to injuries, but had a solid 2014 with 1,471 total yards and 14 touchdowns. The injuries will hurt Lasco’s draft stock, but he helped it with a good showing at the Senior Bowl. Lasco showed good burst through the line of scrimmage and a smooth jump cut without losing speed. He’ll most likely be a mid-to-late round pick due to his injury history, but has the size and talent to be productive NFL back.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

12.) Kenyan Drake, Alabama (6’1 | 210 | 4.49)

Derrick Henry’s back-up at Bama, who didn’t get much of a chance to show what he can do in college but looked explosive during Senior Bowl week. The lack of college carries might be looked on as a positive by some teams who are concerned about heavy workloads as an undergrad. Drake also showed the ability to return kicks and catch the ball out of the backfield (46 receptions). The main negative on Drake is his ability to stay healthy. He had significant injuries in college and even at the Senior Bowl spent too much time on the sidelines after taking hits. Drake’s skill as a return man and potential as a 3rd down back should get him drafted in the middle rounds.

13.) Josh Ferguson, Illinois (5’10 | 200 | 4.47) 

The Illini’s poor play on the field the last few seasons hurt Ferguson’s draft stock, but he rebuilt it a bit at the Senior Bowl. He showed excellent vision, reliable hands, and surprising toughness for his size. Ferguson caught 168 passes during his college career and showed ideal 3rd-down-back traits in Mobile. He did have seven fumbles last season which will be a concern for most teams, but Ferguson is an explosive enough back that he should hear his name called sometime on day 3.