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NFL Draft: Senior Bowl Players to Watch - Running Backs

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The Bengals will be involved in meaningful football in January. So what if it’s the Senior Bowl? With the CBA in flux, this may be closest thing to Bengals football we might see for a while. While coaching the Senior Bowl three times in seven years isn’t anything to brag about, you can look at the previous stints (2004, 2009) to forecast who could be on the 2011 Bengals roster. After coaching the North team in 2004, the Bengals have since drafted or signed seven players from that game. Keiwan Ratliff, Madieu Williams, Kyle Larson, Greg Brooks, Ronnie Ghent, Alex Stepanovich, and Kirk Champbers. Four players on today’s roster played in the 2009 Senior Bowl where the Bengals coached the North team. Rey Maualuga, Kevin Huber, Quan Cosby, and Cedric Peerman. So what does this tell us? We will probably draft a punter again. OK not really, but it does show that watching the Senior Bowl can be a preview of future Bengals. With that said, here’s a few players that I think we could see in stripes next season.

Running Backs:

Kendall Hunter: RB Oklahoma St. 5'7" 199 lbs No. 24 North Team

Hunter was considered a change of pace or third down back before this weeks Senior Bowl practices. This week he not only did he weigh in at just less than 200 lbs, but Hunter showed the toughness and grit it takes to play in the NFL as an undersized half back. Hunter has the speed and quickness to make you miss, but we knew that coming in. What we didn’t know was that he could run with some power and block 250 lbs linebackers in pass protection. He’s not the "bell cow" type of back the Bengals like, but he could be a Ray Rice type of prospect.

With a good game, I could see Hunter entrenched as a solid second-round pick.

With a bad game, Hunter could get lost in the 12 underclassmen running backs that could go between rounds 3-6.

Bilal Powell: RB Louisville 5'10" 204 lbs. No. 15 South Team

Powell is another smaller running back that the NFL is shifting towards. He’s not slow by any means, but doesn’t have the speed Hunter has. With the frame to add bulk, Powell might develop into a back that can carry the majority of the load. Powell runs a little upright and sometimes has ball security issues, but almost always falls forward and can make guys miss in the open field. Powell reminds me of Tashard Choice.

With a good game, I could see Powell being taken as early as third round.

With a bad game, he could too be lost in the shuffle and end up in round five.

Owen Marecic RB/FB Stanford 6'0" 246lbs. No. 48 North Team

We all love Dan Skuta, and Marvin did say he might keep two full backs next season. Owen Marecic might be perfect for the Bengals. He’s tough as nails (played both ways in college), and has the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. Marecic has done what everybody expected this week; crush people in the run game and display soft hands in the passing game. As a full back, I don’t think he can do much to help or hurt his stock in Saturday’s game. I think he’s a solid fourth or fifth round pick, and the best fullback in this draft.

Go here for Senior Bowl frequently asked questions.