It's a forgone conclusion that the Bengals were keeping a close eye on the deep 2013 running back draft class. They are in the market for at least one player to add to their stable of the position group, it's just a matter of what kind of back they are looking for. Some believe that a complementary speed back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the way to go, while others believe that t potential three-down guy should be the route to take.
On Sunday, prospects fitting both molds took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and we drew some conclusions based on what we saw.
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn: The smallest running back prospect at the Combine also lit it up with the position group's fastest 40-yard dash time. McCalebb's future in the NFL will likely come with special teams duties and third down packages, but the league is all about matchups and McCalebb could be a valuable asset with his speed. He has good hands in the passing game, but the concern is his size at under 170 pounds.
Kerwynn Williams, Utah State: For a guy that was initially thought to be a late-round prospect who would have to potentially fight his way onto an NFL roster, Williams did his best to beat that rap. He ran a sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash and had people rumbling about his Sunday performance. Williams may not be the prototypical three-down back, but could be looked at as a mid-round draft pick that can contribute to a team's offense in specialty packages.
Jonathan Franklin, UCLA: The praising from Bruins head coach Jim Mora, Jr. aside, Franklin likely improved his draft stock on Sunday. He ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash and did well in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Though not totally spectacular in one area, Franklin could be the most complete back in the draft. Most people have Eddie Lacy as their top prospect at the position this year, but Franklin could start breathing down his neck with another solid performance at his Pro Day. Joe Reedy from The Cincinnati Enquirer and I seem to share sentiments on the outlook on Franklin as an NFL prospect.
CAME IN AS ADVERTISED/PERFORMED AS EXPECTED:
Kenjon Barner, Oregon: The athletic scat back from Oregon proved his versatility on Sunday. Barner is more quick than fast and showed it with his 4.5 speed and solid performances in the bench press and shuttle drills. Some thought that he would run faster than he actually did on Sunday, but there's room for improvement in that area by the time his Pro Day arrives.
INTRIGUING/NEED TO SEE MORE:
Knile Davis, Arkansas: This guy did well in almost every on-field drill and had people telling themselves that they needed to re-examine his game tapes. At almost 230 pounds, Davis ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and repped 225 pounds 31 times. It's hard to tell if Davis is simply a workout warrior, or if he suffered from being on a Razorback team that was in shambles during 2012. Either way, teams will definitely be doing more research on him.
NEEDS A GOOD PRO DAY NOW:
Giovanni Bernard, North Carolina: For a guy that was supposed to be behind Lacy as possibly the second-best running back prospect this year, he didn't show much sizzle on Sunday. Bernard ran a 4.53 forty yard dash, which isn't necessarily slow, but some figured he would fare better than that. He was solid in some other events, but just didn't jump out with his workout. If his draft stock took a hit, it would be a slight one, but he could fall under Franklin on some draft boards because of each guy's respective workout.
Montee Ball, Wisconsin: The former Badger needed a big weekend and just didn't get one. Ball didn't silence any critics with his 4.66 40-yard dash time and didn't do well in the weight room with 15 reps of 225 pounds. Ball will have had to do well in interviews and hope that teams will rely mostly on his college tape. Regardless, he didn't do much to elevate himself into the first and maybe even second round discussion with his Sunday performance.
Mike Gillislee, Florida: This is another running back of which opinions are mixed. Some believe that Gillislee has what it takes to be a good complementary back in the NFL, while others think he's one-dimensional and believe he's a late round flyer. Gillislee finished outside of the top-ten in his position group in most categories and didn't wow anyone with his 4.55 forty time. Like Bernard, he seems to be more quick than fast, but it's unlikely that his stock took any kind of a major hit. Still, he didn't do himself many favors with his Sunday performance, either.