On Friday, I examined the quarterbacks who I projected to be drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft. Today. I submit to you the running backs who I think will be drafted; below, you will find the name of player, school, brief narrative on the player, team that will probably draft him:
1. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
A no-brainer. One of only 2 SEC running backs to rush for 1,000+ yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior (Herschel Walker being the other); he is as close to NFL-ready as can be. Has the rare package of speed (4.45 40), vision and balance. Surprisingly good blocker for his size (6’1″, 217). May help if he adds a few pounds as the next level is more punishing. Only downside is pass catching – but with proper coaching that can be overcome. Can be an All-Star for many years.
Team likely to draft him: Oakland (1st round, although with the Raiders’ state of chaos, anything is possible)
2. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
Excellent size (5’10”, 230) with outstanding speed (4.34 40). Runs very well between the tackles, accelerates very well once in the hole. Blocks well. Has solid hands catching the ball. Downside for Stewart – Can cough up the ball at times; his running style opens him up to potential injuries.
Team likely to draft him: Houston (1st round)
3. Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
Can do the 3 important things: run, block and catch – and do them all well. Has the size (5’11”, 225). Not a lot of wear and tear which will benefit him in the NFL. Has overachieved considering the O-line he had at Illinois. Downside he has is that he doesn’t always run 100%.
Team likely to draft him: Seattle (1st round)
4. Felix Jones, Arkansas
Jones was Robin to McFadden being Batman. Has Warrick Dunn-type size; was quite productive even though he only started 12 games in a 3-year college career. Has outstanding speed (4.38 40). Has good vision and can change direction without losing much speed. Has great balance. Has very good hands which maked him a receiving threat. Could provide added value as a kick return specialist, as well. He will need to gain some weight if he wants to be that every-down back. He also needs to run lower to the ground – a bit upright in his running style. May be a timeshare (share time with another RB) in the NFL.
Team likely to draft him: Dallas (1st round)
5. Christopher Johnson, East Carolina
Despite coming from Conference USA, was very productive. His versatility is his calling card to the NFL. Has the chance to be a dangerous 3rd-down type of back (think Kevin Faulk), and kick returner, as well. Expect him to be drafted – if he has a great 40 time at the combine, he’s 2nd round, otherwise a 3rd rounder.
Team likely to draft him: Carolina (2nd or 3rd round)
6. Ray Rice, Rutgers
He’s explosive and shifty, can hit the holes quickly. Fairly powerful for a RB of his size (5’9″, 197). Downfalls for Rice – Doesn’t have “elite” speed (4.5 40). Not a pass catching back; not much of a blocker, either. Will be either a timeshare RB or a 3rd-down back in the NFL.
Team likely to draft him: Denver (3rd round)