Running back rankings for the 2013 NFL Draft

2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Running Backs

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

4. Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State): It's a little risky ranking Bell this high, because he is a load of a runner who may or may not have enough explosiveness to succeed at the next level. However, I was encouraged by his 4.60 forty-yard dash and 6.75 three-cone drill (third best among running backs) at the combine, so I'm willing to rank him here. This is a guy that forces defenders to swallow their pride and expose themselves to a big collision. You've got to have some guts to stand in front of Bell and try to take him down, and if you try to step aside, he'll drive right through your arm tackle and keep on trucking. If you try to go at his feet, he won't hesitate to leap right over you. He finished 2012 with 414 touches, proving he can handle a massive workload. What he'll need to improve most is his vision. I like him as a guy who could play the bruiser role in a backfield rotation, a la Marion Barber when he was sharing the backfield with Julius Jones (and later Felix Jones).
Oct 13, 2012; Shreveport, LA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies running back Christine Michael (33) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
5. Christine Michael (Texas A&M): Due to a spotty injury history and off-field concerns, it's risky to rank Michael this high, but his talent is undeniable. He racked up 844 yards and ten touchdowns as a freshman, showing tons of promise, but then broke his leg as a sophomore and tore his ACL as a junior. He wound up in head coach Kevin Sumlin's doghouse due to off-field issues as a senior, resulting in only 88 rushing attempts over 11 games, though he still managed 12 touchdowns and 4.7 yards per carry. Michael is extremely explosive, and is very powerful when engaged head on by a defender. He also maintains his balance very well, and is quicker than you would think by looking at him. He ran a solid 4.54 at the combine, and finished top-five among running backs in bench press, broad jump, vertical jump, three-cone drill, and twenty-yard shuttle. NFL Network's Mike Mayock considers him "at least" a second-round talent. Once again, injuries and off-field issues are the biggest concerns when it comes to this prospect.

6. Montee Ball (Wisconsin): Everyone knows Ball thanks to an absurd 39 touchdown campaign in 2011. He's a decisive runner who finds holes and hits them hard, then finishes his runs well. He has enough quickness to make defenders miss in the open field on occasion. His decisive, powerful running style keeps him from losing yards very often, even if a hole doesn't open. What concerns me is that he didn't stand out much when forced to squeeze through a tight hole or make a defender miss at the line of scrimmage. Most of his impressive plays came when massive holes were blown open and he had time to get a full head of steam. He won't see as many holes like that in the NFL, and will need to improve his burst to get through small holes quickly.
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