It’s never too early to start talking about the NFL Draft. The current crop of running backs in the NFL is flat out special. I’m not sure we have ever had this many good young backs in the league. College football is loaded with superstar running back talents. Georgia might somehow have an even better backfield in 2018 than the Nick Chubb – Sony Michel combo last year. We have guys like Cam Akers, JK Dobbins, and DeAndre Swift who aren’t even eligible for the draft! The running back position is back baby! The 2019 NFL Draft should also have some talented running backs. Who should we keep an eye on with the running back class heading into this year?
1. Bryce Love (Stanford)
I still don’t know how high Bryce Love gets drafted but if he just repeats what he does last year then the Stanford running back should go in the top 20. Love has averaged at least 7 yards per carry in all three years for Stanford. I mean you can’t get much better than 8.1 yards per carry, right? Love was so good last year that he recorded a run of 40 yards or more in 11 straight games. Speed? Check. Size? 5-10, 202…more than fine. Quickness, elusiveness, patience? Check, check, check.
The only thing Love needs to show in 2018 is the ability to be a reliable pass catcher. Rushing for 2,118 yards at Stanford as a Junior is no joke. I’m not worried that he can do it but I would like to see Love catch more than 6 balls. If he shows that then Love all of the sudden becomes a superstar waiting in the NFL. I’ll say this right now, Love just might be a slower version of prime Chris Johnson.
2. Rodney Anderson (Oklahoma)
Rodney Anderson might be the most underrated running back in all of college football. All you have to do is watch Anderson carve up Georgia for 200 yards in the playoff. Anderson is a tall back and has good size at 220. Anderson isn’t as fast as Love, he’s probably closer to a 4.5 guy. If you’re looking for a comp, Anderson is probably closer to DeMarco Murray than Semaje Perine. A 6.2 yard per clip average is also a very good sign. I also would like to point out that there’s a scenario where Anderson is the first running back drafted next year but also isn’t the best running back on his own team. Anderson will split carries with Trey Sermon who darn good and 2 years younger.
3. Damien Harris (Alabama)
Taking Alabama running backs is usually a terrible decision but Harris doesn’t fit the typical Bama back. Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson, and Derrick Henry are the guys you typically think of but Harris is more resemblant of Kenyan Drake. Harris is a home run hitter and can catch the ball. 7.4 yards per carry is nice but that’s hard to say with Bama’s terrific offensive line. I think Harris is a good bet to go somewhere in the second or third round but will prove to be a reliable back. The guy who remains intriguing is Najee Harris who Harris will split carries with.
Let’s See How Things Play Out
Two guys who are really overhyped scare me to death. I’m not saying they won’t make it but it’s way to early to declare them either way. It all dates back to a lesson I learned a long time ago; small running backs just don’t make it in the NFL. We will have to make that determination with Devin Singletary. The Florida Atlantic running back is probably 170 pounds but is listed favorably at 200. I’m not buying it. Now the production is solid but Florida Atlantic doesn’t play anybody. This guy scored 32 rushing touchdowns last year. Now C’mon. Is that real?
Justice Hill is another guy who is way overhyped. He’s like 180 pounds but 4 inches taller than Singletary is. He also averaged 5.5 yards per carry in back to back years which is fine but nothing spectacular for college. Factoring in the awful Big 12 defenses and I’m not sure how that’s even regarded as impressive. If we’re talking about the next Theo Riddick then fine but otherwise I’m not seeing it yet.