2018 NFL Draft Running Back Rankings: From The College Perspective

2018 NFL Draft Running Back Rankings: From The College Perspective

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Running Back Rankings: From The College Perspective


It’s NFL Draft time. Finally. Who are the five running backs who’ll matter, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?

Daily Five: NFL Draft Running Back Rankings

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It’s a good year for okay running backs, but it’s top-heavy. There are superstars up top, and a whole lot of guessing as teams hope to grab a good part of a rotation or three.

From the college perspective, here are the running back prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.

15. Josh Adams, Notre Dame

5-10, 210: The size is there and he was great in the revamped Irish system, but he’s just a guy at the NFL level. He can be a part of a rotation, and there’s upside as a late-round flier.
Projected Round: Sixth

14. Akrum Wadley, Iowa

5-10, 191: Expect him to grow into a nice value pick late in the draft. He’s not big enough, and there’s no power, but he can become a whale of a third down back in the right system.  He’ll make a team on his receiving skills.
Projected Round: Fifth

13. John Kelly, Tennessee

5-10, 210: There’s a lot to like. He’s got the right body type and can power his way through the line for being a little smallish. The biggest problem is his tape, but he didn’t have any luck or any blocking to help the cause – he was a one-man gang.
Projected Round: Fourth

12. Kalen Ballage, Arizona State

6-1, 227: Possibly the biggest X factor running back in the back half of the draft, he’s got good size, 4.46 speed, and brutal power when he has to get nasty. Throw in his hands as a good receiver, and there’s a role for him somewhere. He might not be a sure-thing back to revolve an offense around, but he’ll be very, very productive no matter how he’s used.
Projected Round: Fourth

11. Mark Walton, MIami

5-10, 188: Too small, too thin, too slow, there’s a lot not to like about his measurables, but he brings more power than it appears and he’s a better football player than a prospect. There isn’t anything explosive about his game, and there’s nothing standout-special about anything he does.

He’s just a guy, but he’s just a guy who’ll make a roster and be a part of a rotation with the upside to grow into a decent third down back.
Projected Round: Fourth

10. Nyheim Hines, NC State

5-8, 197: A really, really fun toy for some offensive coordinator to play with, Hines is a 4.38 runner and difference-maker as a receiver and return man. He’ll never be a No. 1 back, but who cares?

Get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways, let him be brilliant. You want this speed and skill on the field as much as possible.
Projected Round: Third

9. Nick Chubb, Georgia

5-11, 228: Knee injuries have taken their toll, but he’s well past them and proved last season that he can still be an amazing back despite all the wear and tear.

More of a great football player than a perfect prospect, he’s as reliable as any back in the draft. Expect him to be an ultra-productive No. 1 back in a part of a rotation.
Projected Round: Third

8. Royce Freeman, ORegon

5-10, 210: His stock dropped after a mediocre 2017 thanks to a knee problem, but he looks the part, plays it, and has everything you want in a rotational back who’ll always produce and always do positive things for an attack. There’s not a whole lot of power, and he has already taken a whole lot of hits, but if he’s healthy, he’ll be a steal.
Projected Round: Third

7. Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

5-10, 210: The upside is in place to hope for something special as a great mid-round value pick. Quick, explosive, and with nice combination of power and hands, he’s not just an Auburn system back.

He’ll take too many big hits, but he’s intriguing enough to get someone really, really excited about getting a franchise back outside of the top 50.
Projected Round: Third 

6. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

5-11, 220: Does it all translate? Want the yards? He was a 2,000-yard star last season. Want the special teams ability? He was a phenomenal return man. Want the speed? 4.46. There might not be too much as a receiver, but he’ll bring the max effort on every run.
Projected Round: Second

5. Bo Scarbrough, Alabama

6-1, 232: There might be a short shelf life, and he’s not going to do anything fancy, but on the plus side, he’s versatile, and there’s a whole lot of tread left on the tires.

Always a part of a rotation, and with only a little bit of consistent production, he only ran 267 times over his three years, and averaged 5.7 yards per carry with 20 scores.

That’s all a plus – especially if you’re looking for Beast Mode II.

(BTW, his Twitter header photo might as well have been taken by me, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and I dove for our lives to avoid getting run over by the steamroller.)

A hammer of a runner with speed, he’s the type of back who might just dominate for a three-year run, and then … who cares?

So he might not be a ten-year back. The talent is there to be a devastating value pick who can at least be a killer in short yardage situations and around the goal line, and he can be used a bit as a receiver, too.

There’s no wiggle in his game, but he’ll block, pound, and wear defenses down. And no, don’t look too deeply into the lack of carries – few spread the wealth around among the runners like Bama did.

Don’t overthink this. Take the big back, get him into camp, and he’ll destroy everyone and everything in front of him.

Projected Round: Fifth
Real Value: Early Second Round


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