2009 NFL Draft: Running Back Rankings
10/18/08: Chris Wells hasn’t played as much as Ohio State fans would like this year, but he’s still the projected No. 1 running back to go in the 2009 NFL Draft, slightly edging out Knowshon Moreno. Hey, when inept GMs and scouts watch Wells run a 4.4 at 235 pounds at the combine, they’re going to crap their pants.
5/21/08: Chris Wells didn’t disappoint in his first year as a full-time starter for the Buckeyes. Wells tallied 1,609 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on a 5.9 clip. And don’t blame him for the loss to LSU in the 2008 Final NCAA Postseason Exhibition Match; he rushed for 146 yards on 20 carries. Downside? Only five receptions in 2007.
2007: A 232-pound running back with 4.4 speed, Chris Wells averaged 5.5 yards per carry as a freshman, which was a higher mark than what Antonio Pittman maintained (5.1). Wells, who gained 576 yards, will be the feature back now that Pittman has moved on to the NFL.
1/3/09: Yet another great season for Knowshon Moreno, who tallied 1,338 rushing yards, 27 receptions, 329 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns. The only reason he and Chris Wells aren’t top-15 locks is because of the lacking need for running backs.
10/18/08: Knowshon Moreno is having an amazing year; through seven weeks, he has 590 yards and 10 touchdowns on a 5.6 YPC clip. He also has 11 receptions. Chris Wells has more impressive combine numbers, so he’ll likely be drafted before Moreno.
5/21/08: The only reason Knowshon Moreno, now a redshirt sophomore, may not be drafted in the top 10 is because this class is so top-heavy with talent. Moreno managed 1,334 rushing yards, 253 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
2007: A redshirt freshman, Knowshon Moreno doesn’t have the best size-40 combination in the world, but he’s a talented runner who gained at least 100 yards in five consecutive games.
1/8/09: LeSean McCoy announced that he’ll be returning for his junior season.
1/3/09: It looks like LeSean McCoy is going back to school, but I’m still listing him in the 2009 Running Back Rankings just in case. LeSean McCoy finished with 1,403 rushing yards, 31 receptions, 299 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.
10/18/08: Less impressive because of Dave Wannstedt, LeSean McCoy has a 4.6 YPC average and seven touchdowns.
5/21/08: LeSean McCoy was never redshirted, but he’ll be three years removed from high school once the 2009 NFL Draft rolls around. McCoy had 1,328 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns and even 33 receptions as a freshman for Pittsburgh.
10/18/08: Despite Cullen Harper’s struggles, C.J. Spiller has been able to gain 6.5 yards per carry and score six total touchdowns.
5/21/08: C.J. Spiller’s 40 will get him drafted high despite the fact that he’ll never be able to carry the load in the NFL; he averaged a bit more than 11 carries per contest as a sophomore. Spiller compiled 768 rushing yards, 34 receptions and five total touchdowns.
2007: James Davis better head for the NFL after the 2007 season because I can’t see the Tigers’ coaching staff giving C.J. Spiller half the carries for too much longer. Spiller, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry and rushed for 10 touchdowns, runs a 4.37. He also caught 19 passes for 210 yards. Not bad for a freshman.
1/3/09: Still undecided about declaring. Donald Brown definitely has the numbers – 1,822 rushing yards, 21 receptions and 17 touchdowns. His decision should probably be based on whether or not Chris Wells and Knowshon Moreno declare. It’d be nice not to have to compete against them.
10/26/08: Donald Brown has 1,174 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games. Brown has eclipsed the 150-yard mark six times. He also has 14 receptions.
10/26/08: Shonn Greene has been a beast this year. Through eight games, Greene has tallied at least 100 yards in every single game, including a 217-yard, four-touchdown performance against Wisconsin.
10/18/08: Devin Moore has 688 rushing yards (5.2 YpC) and three touchdowns through seven games. He ran for 97 yards on just 14 carries (it was a blowout) against BYU, a team that was considered a national title contender before it was debacled by TCU.
5/21/08: The 2009 version of Chris Johnson. Think about it – Devin Moore is an undersized, non-BCS prospect with a blazing 40 and the ability to return kicks. You might as well pencil him into the Titans’ roster.
10/18/08: DeMarco Murray put on some much-needed weight this offseason, and is now a legitimate first-round prospect. Or at least he was… After three amazing performances, Murray has struggled against the likes of Baylor and TCU. He averaged less than one YPC against Texas.
5/21/08: DeMarco Murray will go much higher than the second round if he runs a 4.3, but I question his durability. There are no starting running backs in the NFL who weigh less than 200 pounds. At 190, Murray carried the ball just 127 times (and never more than 19 times in a single game), though he mustered 764 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in the process. That’s just a yards-per-carry average of six. Not bad.
10/18/08: An absolute beast this year, Javon Ringer is a Heisman candidate. Through seven weeks, he already has 1,112 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Unfortunately, his 40 time-weight combination isn’t going to impress anyone.
5/21/08: Javon Ringer finished his impressive 2007 campaign with 1,447 rushing yards and 35 receptions. If Ringer can hold true to that 4.43 40, he could find himself as high as the top of the second round.
2007: A quick running back who may need to bulk up just a bit, Javon Ringer is the key back in one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country. Through seven games, Ringer has 932 yards, six touchdowns and 23 receptions.
10/18/08: For those of you who don’t follow 1-AA football, Liberty is undefeated. The main reason is Rashad Jennings, who is literally carrying the Flames, Through six games, Jennings has 725 yards and eight touchdowns on a 5.6 YPC clip. NFL GMs and scouts are going to love his 40 time.
5/21/08: Rashad Jennings is a transfer from Pittsburgh, but he didn’t switch schools because he couldn’t keep up; he had family issues to deal with. At Liberty, Jennings totaled 1,113 yards and 15 touchdowns.
10/18/08: Coming off a torn ACL, Jeremiah Johnson played pretty well until running into USC. The Trojans contained him to just 45 yards on 13 carries. The following week, UCLA limited him to 30 yards on 11 rushes.
5/21/08: Jeremiah Johnson got off to a hot start in 2007, gaining 6.4 yards per carry alongside Jonathan Stewart. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in the middle of the year.
10/18/08: Jonathan Crompton’s struggles really hurt Arian Foster, who managed a combined 33 yards on 11 carries at Auburn and Georgia.
5/21/08: A power runner with solid speed, Arian Foster made major strides in 2007, collecting 1,193 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns.
10/18/08: Like everyone on Clemson’s offense, James Davis has struggled. Davis’ only 100-yard performances have come against the Citadel and Maryland. He gained 25 yards on 12 carries at Wake Forest. He’s going to need a lot of luck to be drafted on Day 1. 5/21/08: Owner of a very solid 40 at his size, James Davis once again had a solid year for Clemson, rushing for 1,064 yards and 10 touchdowns.
2007: After declaring for the 2008 NFL Draft, James Davis has decided to return for his senior season.
A runner with tremendous speed, Davis rushed for 1,187 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2006. Only had six receptions last year, although he had 19 the year before. Will once again split carries with C.J. Spiller, so his stats won’t be maximized.
10/18/08: Through six games, Herb Donaldson has 954 yards and 14 touchdowns on a 5.5 YPC. Donaldson proved himself by rushing for 157 yards and a touchdown in a near upset at Arkansas.
5/21/08: Another great season for the unknown Herb Donaldson. The 220-pounder had 1,491 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing the season finale against Youngstown State.
2007: Herb Donaldson doesn’t have the greatest speed in the world, but his size and production make up for it. He rushed for an amazing 328 yards and six touchdowns against Indiana State on Nov. 4. Think his lacking competition is the reason he compiled 1,417 yards in 2006? He gained 4.1 yards per carry at Wisconsin earlier in the season.
10/18/08: Tyrell Sutton is single-handedly carrying the 5-1 Northwestern Wildcats. Don’t blame him for the loss; he ran for 139 yards on 23 carries against Michigan State.
5/21/08: Tyrell Sutton missed a huge chunk of the 2007 season with an ankle injury. In five full games, he rushed for 522 yards and caught 30 passes.
2007: Tyrell Sutton doesn’t have the size teams usually want, but he has generated at least 1,000 rushing yards in each of his two seasons at Northwestern. Even more impressive are the 83 receptions he has garnered the past two years.
10/18/08: Prior to playing Penn State and Ohio State, Kory Sheets had rushed for more than five yards per carry against his first four opponents. He has eight touchdowns and 16 receptions on the year as of Week 7.
5/21/08: Kory Sheets rushed for 859 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2007. He also caught 30 passes for 216 yards and two more scores.
10/18/08: Andre Brown rushed for 101 yards against South Carolina in the season opener, but hasn’t done much since then. He gained just five yards against Boston College.
5/21/08: Andre Brown began his 2007 campaign well, rushing for 427 yards on a 4.8 clip and catching 17 passes the first five weeks. Unfortunately, he broke his foot in early October and was out the rest of the year (he returned at the end but was ineffective).
2007: One of the larger backs in the 2009 class, Andre Brown has gained about 660 rushing yards the past two years. Had his best game against Florida State (18 carries, 113 yards).
5/21/08: Keegan Herring will make a nice scat back in the NFL. His 40 will be a major factor in determing where he’s drafted. He better be prepared at the combine. Herring managed 815 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 2007.
10/18/08: Through six games, Javarris Williams has 499 yards, eight touchdowns and 13 receptions. His YPC is 4.6, down from 6.1 last year.
5/21/08: Granted, Javarris Williams was running against lesser competition, but he still managed 1,187 yards and 12 touchdowns at a 6.1 clip.
10/18/08: After gaining just 96 yards the first four weeks of the season, Cedric Peerman tallied 110- and 173-yard outputs against Maryland and East Carolina in consecutive Saturdays.
5/21/08: Cedric Peerman suffered a season-ending ankle injury on Oct. 6. Before then, he was having a solid year, rushing for 585 yards and five touchdowns on a 5.2 clip.
10/18/08: Injured for most of the year. Will only declare early if he’s mentally insane.
5/21/08: After a decent 2006 campaign, Javarris James struggled last year, gaining just 3.7 yards per carry. He was hindered by inconsistency; for every 18-carry, 103-yard performance against N.C. State, there was a 10-carry, 7-yard blunder versus Virginia Tech.
2007: The cousin of Edgerrin James, Javarris led the Hurricanes in rushing as a freshman, totaling 802 on the ground and 200 through the air. James has a nice 40 considering his size.
10/18/08: Nothing impressive here; Marlon Lucky has only one 100-yard rushing performance. He was held to 17 yards on eight carries against Virginia Tech.
5/21/08: Marlon Lucky ran well for classless moron coach Bill Callahan, compiling 1,019 yards and 12 touchdowns. But here’s the amazing stat – Lucky had 75 receptions and 705 receiving yards. This from a running back. Let’s just hope Lucky doesn’t score a zero on the Wonderlic as a possible result of unfortunately inheriting his former head coach’s idiocy.
2007: Marlon Lucky probably won’t come out until 2009, but there’s a chance he’ll have a great year. He compiled 728 yards and six touchdowns, but carried the ball just 141 times. He’ll be the primary ball-carrier with Brandon Jackson gone.
Lucky was found unconscious in his apartment February and had to be taken to ICU. He’s fine now, but NFL teams will look into this incident.
10/18/08: In years past, P.J. Hill has been able to put up solid numbers. Not this year. He’s gone over the 100-yard barrier only twice this year – against Akron and Fresno State. He managed just 3.2 yards per carry against Marshall.
5/21/08: P.J. Hill had another monstrous campaign for Wisconsin, rushing for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns.
2007: There’s no denying P.J. Hill’s effectiveness as a college player (1,569 rushing yards, 18 receptions, 16 total touchdowns), but is he quick enough to succeed in the NFL? Probably not. He’ll stick around in a Ron Dayne or Brandon Jacobs type of role, but I doubt Hill could ever be a full-time starter.
10/18/08: Rodney Ferguson performed well against the two high-conference schools on his slate; he rushed for 293 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M and Arizona.
5/21/08: Rodney Ferguson had a decent season – 1,177 rushing yards, 264 receiving yards, 14 total touchdowns – but missed New Mexico’s bowl game because he was academically ineligible. I guess he couldn’t get his girlfriend to do his homework for him, unlike a very recent quarterback in the Big Ten.
10/18/08: Still way too small to be an every-down back in the NFL. He can’t even carry the load on his own at Boise State.
5/21/08: The casual fan knows Ian Johnson as the player who scored in the decisive touchdown against Oklahoma and then proposed to his girlfriend on national TV. NFL scouts, however, will come to know Johnson as a small back who runs a mediocre 40 at his size.
2007: A bit small, but Ian Johnson could be a nice change-of-pace back in the NFL. Still, you can’t help but marvel at what he did in 2006: 1,714 yards and 25 touchdowns. Needs to become a better pass-catcher; only eight receptions last year.
10/18/08: Tarrion Adams has picked up where he left off last year, averaging 5.6 YPC on the year.
5/21/08: In his first season as a full-time starter at Tulsa, Tarrion Adams compiled 1,225 rushing yards, 30 receptions, 301 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.
5/21/08: Marcus Thigpen’s not listed this high for his skills as a running back (568 yards, three touchdowns). Instead, he’s a fifth-round prospect because he’s one of the top kick returners in the nation.
5/21/08: If Darrell Mack can improve his 40, he’ll soar up this top-heavy but mediocre list. Mack had 1,204 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns in 2007. He also caught 21 passes, which is impressive for a big guy.
5/21/08: One of many small running backs in this class, Brad Lester missed the first five games of the 2007 season because he was suspended (academics). He rushed for 530 yards at a 4.2 clip the rest of the year.
2007: LaMarcus Coker runs a 4.3 and led the Vols in rushing as a freshman with 696 yards. So, why is he all the way down here? Coker was suspended indefinitely in early August for violating Tennessee’s substance-abuse policy. Who knows when he’ll be back? However, one thing is clear – NFL coaches and general managers won’t forget this come April 2009 or 2010.
5/21/08: Kahlil Bell was having a great year (795 rushing yards, five touchdowns in seven games) but suffered a torn ACL at Washington State.
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