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3 takeaways from Combine running back drills

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Let’s evaluate the results of the running back drills at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine is the perfect opportunity for teams to see NFL prospects in action. Various drills are completed to give teams tangible measurements for how certain players perform at varying tasks that measure skills needed at the NFL level. Some of the drills simply show off a prospect’s flaws, while others are drills done routinely at the NFL level. On Friday, we saw running backs, offensive linemen, and special teams players participate in the drills. All three positions could be very interesting to the Bengals in 2017, but running back is, arguably, the biggest need of the three for Cincinnati.

Running back is a position the Bengals need to keep a close eye on this offseason. If the Bengals are able to re-sign Rex Burkhead, the team could forego picking up a running back in the draft. However, Burkhead is likely to receive a significant pay day from a running back-needy team, and that team may not be the Bengals. The Bengals may be in a situation where a rehabbing Giovani Bernard and an unreliable Jeremy Hill are their only two running back options, likely making running back an early priority in the draft. We saw some interesting facts emerge from Friday’s drills that the Bengals will want to take note of when deciding who they will draft in late April.

1) Alvin Kamara is more agile than previously thought

Clocking in with a 4.56 40-yard dash, 15 bench reps, a 39.5 inch vertical leap, and a 131 inch broad jump, Alvin Kamara made it known that he is the most agile back in this year’s draft class. His vision and instincts as a running back could still hurt his draft stock in late April, but his performance at the combine could very well vault him into the late-first round discussion. Heading into the Combine, he was considered a second-round prospect, but that might change after his impressive performance.

2) Dalvin Cook is catching up to Leonard Fournette

Widely considered the best running back in this year’s draft, Fournette didn’t always look the part on Friday. He clocked in with a 4.51 40-yard dash, which would be disappointing if not for his 240 pound weigh in. Also disappointing was his 28.5 inch vertical jump, and he didn’t even participate in the bench press or broad jump. His performance was weak compared to Dalvin Cook, whose 4.49 40-yard dash, 22 bench reps, 30.5 inch vertical leap, and 116 inch broad jump combined for a much more impressive showing. Cook’s spotty background will undoubtedly haunt him on draft day and Fournette will likely still be drafted ahead of him. But, the talent gap appears to have closed after the combine. Still, teams have reportedly been enamored by Fournette, including the Bengals who word has it “want him”.

3) Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams increased his draft stock

Performing well in virtually every drill was Kentucky’s Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams. There was a possibility he wouldn't be drafted before the combine, but clocking in with a 4.51 40-yard dash, a 36 inch vertical jump, a 121 inch broad jump, and 18 bench press reps, the explosive Wildcat may have convinced a few teams to look past his small stature and consider selecting him with a later draft pick.

There is still plenty of time before the 2017 NFL Draft, so there will be much more time for NFL teams and scouts to digest these combine results. There are still three more days of combine left, but we learned a lot about this year’s draft class in the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. As of right now, it appears that Dalvin Cook is the most talented prospect, Alvin Kamara is the most versatile, and Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams is the most underrated. We will see how that analysis holds up in April and into these young players’ NFL careers.