It seems that most have forgotten about the importance of the running back position. With the league really airing it out, the misconception has become that the run game is no longer important. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. In 2012 we witnessed a SuperBowl that featured two teams, the Ravens and the 49ers, that featured a power run offense. Just this past SuperBowl, the Seahawks won, also featuring a run heavy attack. The famous Chip Kelly offense lead the league in rushing yards, and 4th in the NFL in attempts. I mention that, because Chip Kelly’s offense is famous for airing it out, but they still lead the league in rushing. There was a balance of 500 running plays, and 508 passing plays.
The truth is in order to win in this league, teams need to balance a running attack with a passing attack. Having running backs that can not only run, but can act as a receiver and a pass blocker. Just take a look at what a difference Eddie Lacey made for the Packers. Watch the Saints, Seahawks, Eagles, and Patriots balance their running game and passing game. Having a good running back can really help balance an offense, and keep defenses on their toes. Let’s take a look at some running backs that can have an impact at the next level.
Todd Gurley – Georgia – The consensus top running back for many draft experts, and for good reason. Gurley may be a big back at 6’1 231 *unofficially*, but he moves like a smaller back. He is very smooth in and out of cuts, much like Arian Foster. Usually running backs his size are not relied on as a receiver, but Gurley does a great job of getting open and catching the football. He does a good job of anchoring and bringing a big hit, while pass blocking.
Melvin Gordon – Wisconsin – Not your typical Wisconsin running back. Usually a Wisconsin running back is a big strong back in the mold of John Clay, or Ron Dane, or short stout guys like James White and Montee Ball. Melvin Gordon is a taller slender back (6’1 207), and is probably the fastest back Wisconsin has had in a while. A long strider that is a threat to take it to the distance. Gordon is a quality receiver out of the backfield, and is dangerous on screen plays. Not only is Melvin Gordon a dangerous receiver, he is a good runningback. He has very little wasted movement and looks to get north and south immediately. Stronger than he appears. His play has been compared to Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs.
Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska – Warning, objects are bigger than they appear. That’s the best way to describe Ameer Abdullah. He may only be 5’9 190 (Unofficial) but don’t tell him that. Adbullah will lower his shoulder for tougher yards, will split out wide, be a receiver out of the backfield, and has no problem staying back to pass block. Abdullah has great vision, and has the ability to cut back and get up field. A lot of backs his size like to bounce it outside, but Abdullah loves to cut it up field and run between the tackles. As the game goes on, Abdullah gets better, which makes him a true grinder.
Mike Davis – South Carolina – There is a lot of hype around Todd Gurley and TJ Yeldon for SEC runningbacks, but Mike Davis should not be overlooked. In a tough conference, Mike Davis has had plenty of success. Just last season, Mike Davis had similar numbers to Todd Gurley, with a very similar schedule. At 5’9 215, Mike Davis plays with good balance, and surprising burst. He runs creates plenty of yards after contact, and gets stronger as the game goes on. Davis is surprisingly nimble, and has shown some ability to sneak out of the back field and become a receiver. Against Mississippi State, Davis snuck out of the back field on a wheel route, and was able to make a nice adjustment to catch the ball, and was nimble enough to get both feet down. He is a running back that could have an impact for a team, much like Doug Martin.
Other Running Backs to Consider:
Jay Ajayi – Boise State – Explosive RB plays similar to Darren McFadden
David Cobb – Minnesota – Exploded onto the seen last year.
TJ Yeldon – Alabama – A lot of people rate him as a top RB. Alabama backs scare me
Tevin Coleman – Idiana – Explosive RB
Duke Johnson – Miami – Back to back 900+ yard seasons. Let’s see if he can break the 1,000 yard mark this year.
Jeremy Langford – Michigan State – Very successful in their rushing offense.
Travis Greene – Bowling Green – Fast RB, but plays in a limited conference. Still productive
Jahwan Edwards – Ball State – Good size, and good production. 4 year starter, that could become a productive player at the next level.