Danny Wild-US PRESSWIRE
In today's NFL, how do we still miss prospects like Arian Foster and Alfred Morris? It seems like running backs slip through the cracks more than other positions. It could be because of the school they played at or maybe they lacked a certain attribute evaluators felt was important for a RB to possess. I tried to look at it the opposite way -- is there one aspect of each prospect that could lead to a long NFL career?
1. Latavius Murray - 6'3" 223 lbs - UCF
Strengths: Murray is a bigger back that has skills normally associated with smaller runners. He can catch very well and has above average long speed. His vision/feel/patience can be very good at times but it's inconsistent. He's also one of the better pass protection running backs in this draft. Murray has only fumbled twice in 550 college touches.
Weaknesses: Murray runs high and that leaves him open to big hits and hurts his agility/acceleration. He appears to lumber as he makes sudden cuts and it takes him a few yards to get up to speed. He can also be too patient at times and gets swallowed up before he even gets going. Murray missed the 2010 season with a knee injury.
Size/Style Comparison: James Starks
Draft Projection: 6th - 7th Round
2. Cierre Wood - 6'0" 210 lbs - Notre Dame - 5th/6th Round
Notes: Wood is another guy that hasn't shown the durability or ball security you'd like. He's the better back between he and Riddick and that is thanks to his more natural abilities; good vision and feel. Wood doesn't miss too many opportunities to gain positive yardage, but he doesn't make many defenders miss.
3. D.J. Harper - 5'10" 205 lbs - Boise State - 6th/7th Round
Notes: Harper is a six-year senior because he tore his left ACL in consecutive years. Finally healthy, Harper was a fun prospect to watch. Adequate speed to break off some long runs, but he really looks good pre-LOS. A natural runner with a great feel for the flow of a play. Harper had a bunch of "Wow" runs.
4. Mike James - 5'11" 220 lbs - Miami - 6th/7th Round
Notes: James intrigues me with his size/build and receiving ability. He's a better runner in space because he has deceptive speed and power. James has fumbling issues, but he has 3rd down ability and possibly more.
5. Marcus Lattimore - 6'0" 220 lbs - South Carolina
Strengths: Lattimore has turned into a power back with some very good receiving ability. What he is now is different than what he was before his first knee injury. In 2012, Lattimore became a smarter runner, slowed down and used better vision and became a more conservative back. That could've been hesitation because as he was recovering, but he definitely didn't have the burst he once had. He became a power back and he'll need to keep the evolution going in the NFL.
Weaknesses: As we all know, Lattimore injured his other knee in 2012. This one was reportedly worse than his previous left knee injury. He probably won't be ready to play for the 2013 season as a rookie and there's no guarantee he'll ever recover. I don't think he was the best back in this draft before this last setback, and this only further pushes him down draft boards.
Size/Style/Situation Comparison: Willis McGahee
Draft Projection: 5th-7th Round
6. George Winn - 5'11" 210 lbs - Cincinnati
Notes: I saw decent speed and Winn flashed some lateral quickness. He wasn't consistent in knowing when to hit the hole, bounce it outside or cutback. When Winn was indecisive, it hurt his speed and power to the hole. I like how often he fell forward for not being a very powerful runner. Winn looks like he can add 10 lbs to bring weight behind his runs without losing speed. Winn is an inexperienced pass protector and receiver. I like that he hasn't fumbled and has less than 350 college carries.
Size/Style Comparison: Cedric Peerman
Draft Projection: 6th - 7th Round
7. Miguel Maysonet - 5'9" 205 lbs - Stonybrook 7th/UDFA
Notes: I first watched Maysonet against Syracuse because it was his hardest competition. That was also the best performance I seen from him. He runs very hard and can be very creative in the 2nd level. His passing game score knocked him down in my rankings. He's a legit sleeper that could surprise.
8. Montel Harris - 5'10" 206 - Temple - 7th/UDFA
Notes: Harris is a former Boston College RB that transferred to Temple. He doesn't show an above average skill but Harris is best on zone runs. He can pick his hole and he runs with a good lean. He may have some zone blocking upside.
9. Stefphon Jefferson - 5'11" 210 lbs - Nevada - 7th/UDFA
Notes: He's not as athletic as his size suggests, but he has more power than you'd expect. I like his build better than his skills. Jefferson had fumbling issues also.
10. Theo Riddick - 6'0" 200 lbs - Notre Dame 7th/UDFA
Notes: Riddick doesn't look very natural as a RB. He has vision issues and runs high. He's probably a better WR prospect for the NFL. He shows good hands and Notre Dame wasn't afraid to split him out wide.
11. Michael Ford - 5'10" 216 lbs - LSU
Strengths: Ford has a compact, muscular build that he uses to power through tacklers. His build also offers him more balance as you'll see as he bounces off defenders. Ford's was a backup at LSU and only has 250 career touches. That could mean Ford has some NFL upside as a backup, power back. He's intriguing as a developmental runner.
Weaknesses: Ford is a below average athlete; especially his change of direction and burst. He kind of just glides at one speed. He was very limited in LSU's passing game and doesn't show much NFL upside there. Ford also fumbled at a rate of every 50 collegiate touches; another below average attribute for him.
Size/Style Comparison: Rudi Johnson
Draft Projection: 7th - UDFA
12. Rex Burkhead - 5'10" 215 lbs - Nebraska - 7th/UDFA
Notes: Nothing physically special or enticing about Burkhead. What he does offer is solid pass protection and natural receiving skills. He's a 3rd down back if anything in the NFL.
Any questions will be answered in the comments section below or on Twitter: @JoeGoodberry.