Running back rankings for the 2013 NFL Draft

2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Running Backs

3/11/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

With many teams employing committee-style backfields, the demand for running backs is not quite as high as it once was, but that is not to say that there are no talented runners in this year's draft. Though the first running back to be selected is likely to go late in the first round, there are still a number of players who should be able to make a significant impact at the next level. Here are my rankings for this year's class of running backs:

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Blog Photo - Running back rankings for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. Eddie Lacy (Alabama): My admiration for Lacy actually began when he was backing up Trent Richardson in 2011, ripping off 7.1 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns on only 95 carries. I was thrilled to see how Lacy would handle a larger workload in 2012, and he didn't disappoint. His 1322 yards and 17 touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry without being hindered by injury suggests he can handle a lead back role at the next level. He showed great explosiveness in 2012, which was much improved from his previous seasons. He has enough speed and lateral quickness, and is a smooth runner. What I like most about Lacy, however, is his brutality and balance when fending off tacklers. You can't look away when you think he's being taken down, because he'll probably fight for at least a couple more yards. A lot of his game reminds me of Marshawn Lynch, who has obviously been very successful in the NFL. Lacy's ability in the passing game as both a receiver and blocker also boosts his stock.

2. Giovani Bernard (UNC): There isn't really anything to love about Bernard, but there is nothing to dislike either. He's pretty much good (but not exceptional) at everything a running back is asked to do. He'll run between the tackles and plunge into a linebacker to push for some extra yards, or bounce to the outside to use speed and quickness to move the ball. He has a quick first step and gets going quickly, then decisively and effectively makes quick cuts through the correct holes. Vision is one of his greatest strengths. He is a solid pass blocker, and his 92 catches over the past two seasons tell you all you need to know about his ability as a receiver. He's a complete, every-down type back that has a shot at being the first at his position to be drafted.

3. Mike Gillislee (Florida): Like Bernard, Gillislee is a player who doesn't blow you away in any one area, but can do a lot of different things well. My favorite thing about him is his aggressiveness with the ball in his hands. He always appears to be ready for contact, and keeps his legs moving at all times, creating yards after contact. He gets going quickly after taking the handoff. What he will need to work on is more often taking a short gain rather than trying (and failing) to create a big play. He has good hands and is effective as a receiver. He is an effective blocker in the passing game. He'll likely be a good fit for a power running scheme, in which he can be decisive with one cut and fight his way downfield.
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