NFL Mocks Prospect Rankings: Top 5 Running Backs
1. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Spiller is an explosive back that has scouts drooling. He has drawn comparisons to current Saints running back Reggie Bush, but Spiller has a more solid build and his legs don’t go dead on first contact like Bush. Spiller also has added value with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and he will contribute in the returning game.
As a receiver, the Clemson back runs excellent routes and has great hands. He would be a perfect change of pace back and will be utilized in many positions. You could see Spiller in the backfield, lined up at slot or even split out wide.
Spiller will need to work on his pass protection and he isn’t going to be effective around the goal line, however, his explosiveness and versatility along with his patience and vision will land him in the top of the draft.
Grade: Top 15 pick
2. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
The nation’s leading rusher Ryan Mathews, unlike C.J. Spiller, has the size (5?11, 220) to become an every down back in the NFL. He has incredible footwork and balance. He proved during his time at Fresno State that he can handle the main load while still maintaining his speed.
Mathews will need to improve as a receiving threat, but he is a very reliable ball carrier.
What he lacks in the receiving game, Mathews more than makes up for it with his ball security and toughness. In his 535 career carries, Mathews only allowed the ball to hit the turf three times.
Mathews runs with power and he still has the ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces. If Mathews see a gap he will beat the defender to the spot and take the ball all the way to the endzone.
Grade: Top 25 pick
3. Jahvid Best, California
Jahvid Best has been out of action since November 7 when he suffered a serious concussion against Oregon State. Best is another speed back, which this class is heavy on.
He has elite speed, but what makes him dangerous is his ability to maintain that speed in and out of the cuts. Best always keeps his feet moving and that allows him to pick up some extra yards. He does need to get stronger and run with more power, but with his elusiveness and vision, Best will be able to find the hole.
Best also brings the added value as a receiving threat. He has soft hands and is brilliant in open space. He runs with a low pad level that will make him a challenge to bring down for defensive backs.
Grade: First-round pick
4. Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
McCluster is the most exciting player in this year’s draft. He is the jack of all trades and has really seen his value skyrocket in the offseason. McCluster blew scouts away at the Senior Bowl with his ability to play both running back and wide receiver.
With his lack of size (5-foot-6, 165-pounds), McCluster will likely be drafted as a running back and could see himself filling the “Darren Sproles” role for an offense. The running style is similar, however, the Ole Miss back is a much better passing threat than Sproles.
McCluster will be highly valued with his home run ability. Offensive coordinators will be lobbying to take this guy in the teams war rooms on draft day.
5. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
Dwyer is one of the top power backs in this year’s class. At 235-pounds, he runs with incredible power and will not shy away from contact. Dwyer had 517 carries during his time at Georgia Tech and he never recorded a fumble in his collegiate career.
His numbers are not as eye-dropping as some other prospects, but that is mainly due to his role in the Yellow Jackets triple-option offense. Dwyer served as the fullback where most of his work was done inside the tackles.
While his numbers may have suffered, his leg strength and bruising running style was highlighted.
Grade: mid to late second-round pick