1. Trent Richardson RB Alabama
There is not much doubt as to who is this draft’s number 1 running back. Trent Richardson is the most highly touted RB to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson. Richardson is most likely a top 5 pick with his unique blend of size, speed and power. He is also an asset in the passing game, with his hands and willingness to pass protect. The only knock against Richardson is that spending a top 5 pick on a running back, as the league slowly starts to move towards a passing first (second and third) sport, are you getting enough value? The last elite running back to be drafted in the first round was Chris Johnson in 2008. Whichever team drafts Richardson on April 26th, will be getting college football’s best running back, but will they be living, and playing, in the past?
2. Doug Martin RB Boise St.
Doug Martin will count his lucky stars if he hears his name called on Thursday night. He isn’t overly fast, overly big, or overly productive. In the right system, he could be the best producing RB of the class. His game is more Ray Rice, than Chris Johnson. More Matt Forte than Adrian Peterson. He is a multi-faceted running back who could make an immediate impact in the passing game. Martin could even fill in as a returner. Martin is not a feature back. Martin is a complimentary piece that could make a good offense great, and a great offense, legendary. (I’m talking to you NYG, GB, and NE)
3. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech
David Wilson is a power back. If you are looking for a head-down, leg-churning running back to compliment your speed back, Wilson is your back. He is very tough, almost to a fault. Concerns arise when projecting his game to the next level. His tenacity fighting for the extra yard is admirable, but will also lead to injury, and most likely a shortened career. It will be important for Wilson to land in the right system, giving him an opportunity to punish warn-down defenses, and the occasional respite on the bench.
4 Chris Polk RB UW
Chris Polk is a graceful, effortless RB. He can glide through tight holes and break arm tackles with ease. The problem is, this is the NFL. On Sunday, college-like arm tackles only occur on kickoffs, by the guy with the single digit on his back. Polk does, however, have room to improve. If he is able to lower his pad level and improve his pass protection, Polk will have a successful career in the league. He has good hands as a receiver and underrated speed. While his abilities might not be up to the level of his draft-mates, his floor might also be higher.
5. Lamar Miller RB Miami
Lamar Miller is the highest-rated speed back in this year’s draft. He averaged a ridiculous 5.46 YPC in 2011. His hands aren’t great and probably won’t be a three-down running back in the NFL, but his ability to break a big run at any given time is intriguing. Miller won’t fight for extra yards, content to take what is available, waiting for another shot to open it up. Miller will make his money on stretch runs, where his cutting ability will be on display. A zone-blocking team might strike gold if they take a shot on Miller.