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Wisconsin Running Back Montee Ball: "I'm A Three-Down Back"

One of the more high-profile running backs in this year's draft spoke at the Combine on Friday. He reiterated his value to NFL clubs and talked about what he brings to the table.

Gregory Shamus

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more statistically productive college running back than former Wisconsin Badger, Montee Ball. In his last two college seasons, Ball has rushed for almost 4,000 yards and has 61 total touchdowns to his name. Let that sink in for a moment.

Still, for all of that production, there are plenty of those who knock Ball for a variety of shortcomings. The two most common have to do with his lack of breakaway speed in the open field, as well as the huge amount of touches he's had in the past two years (663 carries, 34 catches). One thing you can't take away from Ball is his physicality in playing the game.

Because of the production and the knocks, Ball comes with a variety of grades going into the 2013 draft. Mel Kiper, Jr. mocked Ball to the Bengals in the first round a little while ago at No.21 overall, while others have anywhere from a second to fourth round grade on the youngster. Ball disagrees with the latter sentiment.

Speaking with the media at the NFL Combine on Friday, Ball proclaimed himself a three-down back and wants to start proving that this weekend with his workouts.

The truth is that Ball is correct in his self-observations. When the Badgers had a capable quarterback in Russell Wilson, he had 24 catches and six receiving touchdowns in 2011. He also wasn't afraid to take on blockers with his 215-pound body to assist the offense in that capacity as well.

Say what you want about Ball--especially in landing with the Bengals, but his college numbers are astronomical and the traits he mentioned are those that are valued by the Cincinnati coaching staff. His tough running style and "hardhat" type of work ethic might make him a good fit for a team in the AFC North. Regardless, this is a huge weekend for Ball's draft stock.