Which Running Backs Are Worth Watching at the 2015 Combine?
|Date & Time||Tuesday February 10, 2015, 12:00 PM (EST)|
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Tonight’s a twofer as I’m headed out for the day tomorrow morning. Lucky you. We just took a look at the top ten wide receivers worth watching at the NFL Combine this year, which means it’s time to switch gears to the workhorses of the league. This column features a breakdown of the top ten running backs you should know before players converge on downtown Naptown.
1. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon has had an impressive college career, including a trip to the 2014 Big Ten title game. Gordon finished the season with 2,587 yards (that’s No. 2 in FBS history), but needs to impress in the individual events at the Combine in order to become the first RB taken on draft weekend.
2. Indiana RB Tevin Coleman comes from a school known more for alley oops than touchdown runs, but he managed to put-up 2,036 yards during the 2014 season. At 6’1, 210 pounds, Coleman also has great size on his side, which pro teams will love. Hoo-Hoo-Hoo-Hoosiers! Sorry, folks, it’s my school.
3. Ameer Abdullah, another Big Ten man out of Nebraska, was a full-time starter for the past two years, finishing with a total of 3,301 yards and 28 TDs. Abdullah is small, clocking-in at just 5/8 and 198 pounds at the Senior Bowl, but he has the potential to impress scouts at the Combine. He also has great leadership skills, which simply can’t be caught.
4. Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon has certainly played in some big games, so his ability to adjust to the limelight isn’t in question. Yeldon also has excellent size, clocking-in at 6’2, 221 pounds. However, some scouts are worried that he simply isn’t speedy enough to really make it in the pros. A good 40 time at the Combine could do wonders for Yeldon’s stock.
5. Duke Johnson, RB for Miami, finished the 2014 season as the leading rusher in the history of The U. Remember, this is the school that produced Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, and Clinton Portis, so that’s an impressive feat. Johnson’s injury history is his biggest red flag, but if he can stay healthy, he should be an excellent pro player.
6. USC's Javorius Allen, better known as Buck, had 1,489 yards and 41 receptions during the 2014 season. Currently, Allen is looking like a Day 3 draft pick, but if he can put-up good numbers in Indy, he could move into Day 2 discussions.
7. At one point not too long ago, Georgia's Todd Gurley would have taken today’s No. 1 spot with no competition. A serious ACL issue, though, has knocked him out of my top five. Nonetheless, though, Gurley is the most complete back in this year’s draft, so if he can get healthy, he’ll be a major consideration for teams around the league.
8. Not to bore you with yet another Big Ten back, but Minnesota RB David Cobb has the potential to play well on a physical, running-heavy team. Cobb has excellent power, but needs to work on his ability to improvise. Nonetheless, he’ll appeal to scouts for smash-mouth offenses, such as those in the AFC North.
9. Jay Ajayi, RB for Boise State, is a former soccer player who has the great feet to prove it. Ajayi can twist his way out of just about any situation on the gridiron, but does need to work on his ball control before starting in the pros. He’s also managed to work his way back into his school’s good graces after a 2011 arrest, which proves that he has an excellent work ethic. Plus, the kid has awesome hair and plays on a blue field…priorities, I’m telling you.
10. Florida RB Matt Jones is 6’2, 235 pounds, which automatically makes him an interesting candidate for NFL scouts. He’s had some fumbling issues and sometimes misses open lanes, but fortunately, those are skills that can be honed with proper coaching. On a major upside, Jones is a natural athlete, which is something that even the best coaches can’t teach.