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2010 draft watch: Top 10 running backs

Mr. T

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Sporting News draft expert Russ Lande, a former NFL scout, takes a quick look at the running back class for the 2010 NFL draft heading into the college season:


1. C.J. Spiller, Clemson, 5-11/195. Spiller, who nearly came out for the '09 draft, has uncommon size, athleticism and elusiveness. He shows quickness, burst and explosiveness to explode out of cuts and shoot through the hole like a rocket. Once he gets behind the defense, he will not be caught. For a speed back, Spiller shows surprising strength and balance to absorb hits and keep on going. He also is an elite return man. Projection: First round.


2. Charles Scott, LSU, 5-11/230. He is a big, physical back who looks like a man-child in uniform. He is an aggressive, physical runner who attacks the hole and gets his shoulders down to make himself a smaller target and to deliver violent blows. He consistently knocks defenders backward, dragging them for extra yardage. He can wear down a defense with strength and power. For a big back, he shows surprising agility to make quick cuts to get through backside holes. He needs work on the finer points as a receiver. Projection: First round.


3. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, 5-11/235 (junior). He will consider the 2010 draft if he has another big season. If he leaves school early, he will be a highly debated prospect because he usually lines up as the fullback in Tech's option-style offense. Dwyer certainly has the size and strength of a traditional NFL big back who can break tackles and gain yardage after contact. For a big back, he shows surprising quickness to reach full speed and good agility and balance to run through arm tackles. Dwyer will have to adjust to carrying the ball from NFL alignments, which will cause him to drop a bit. Projection: First or second round


4. Jahvid Best, Cal, 5-9/190 (junior). He reminds us of the Saints' Reggie Bush and would be a top-10 prospect if he were a bit bigger and didn't have a history of injury problems. Best is an electrifying open-field runner with the elusiveness to make would-be tacklers miss. He shows the vision to see holes before they open and then make sharp cuts to burst through them. He is a touchdown threat on every touch. Like Bush, he is a dangerous receiver who catches the ball naturally. Best probably isn't an every-down NFL back but can be a dynamic change-of-pace and third-down back, great slot receiver and an elite return man. Projection: First or second round.


5. Toby Gerhart, Stanford, 6-0/230. He is a well-built back with the size, strength and competitiveness NFL teams covet. He runs with passion and intensity on every carry and consistently keeps his legs churning to move the pile. He has the agility and balance to absorb hard hits and keep going. However, he is more of a smooth athlete than a quick, explosive one. He has enough quickness to get through the hole but lacks the elite explosiveness and speed to score from anywhere. He wasn't able to stay healthy in '08, his first season as a feature back, and must prove he can handle the pounding. Projection: Third round.



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6. LeGarrette Blount, Oregon, 6-1/248. Projection: Third or fourth round.


7. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State, 6-0/241 Projection: Third or fourth round.


8. Keiland Williams, LSU, 5-11/225. Projection: Fourth or fifth round.


9. James Starks, Buffalo, 6-2/205. Projection: Fourth or fifth round.


10. Stafon Johnson, USC, 5-11/214. Projection: Fifth round.

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Thanks...not the best year for backs..of the top two I like Scott.


At this point Spiller looks better but I think Scott is going to be the better pro.


I actually like Blount the best. His punching that kid is going to hurt him and shows he has some issues, but simply talking about ability, he would look good in our uniform.


I would draft him in the 2nd round as he is a 1st round talent...as long as i was convinced his transgression was just a heat of the moment deal and not some type of deep seated character flaw.

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not having enough talent to go to a top 25 team definitely fits mangini's mold.

Your basing this off high school recruiting? Some kids enjoy the academic side of school. Suh went to Nebraska due to its engineering program. Were they Top 25 at the time? Mack went to Cal, Top 25? Maiava went to USC, Top 25? Veikune went to Hawaii, who was ranked in the Top 25 plenty in his time there. Davis went to Clemson, who has had plenty of Top 25 time. Robiskie went to Ohio State, Top 25? Mass went to Georgia, Top 25? Francies was originally from Oregon State, who has been in the Top 25.


Your statement doesn't make sense at all

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Blount has 0% chance of being a Brown with Mangini's system.


Gerhart would be a great compliment to Harrison/Davis with one of our extra late seconds/third.

Plus, he went to Stanford. That definitely fits the Mangini mold.



I wouldn't say 0%, but i agree it is probably pretty low.


Another back i like who isn't on the list is Montareo Hardesty of Tn....I think he will be a pretty good pro back

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that's because it was supposed to be taken as a joke. we have tons of guys from top 25 programs. i thought that was obvious.


Maybe we should go for someone from a non Top 25 program. Some of our best runners in history have not been top 25:

Jim Brown, Syracuse (though that program had a bigger profile in his day than it does now), Leroy Kelley, Morgan St., Marion Motley spent time at both South Carolina St. and the University of Nevada. Mike Pruitt went to Purdue (more of a QB than a RB school). Of course Greg Pruitt went to Oklahoma which is certainly big time. Ernest Byner went to East Carolina. Kevin Mack went to Clemson. Jamal Lewis went to Tennessee. So, a good RB can come from just about anywhere.

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No doubt Gipper....but in the modern era..recruiting is much more refined..not as many gems fall through the cracks to smaller schools.


It would be interesting say to take last year's All Pros and where they went to school. Here is the list:


Drew Brees Purdue

Peyton Manning Tennessee

Adrian Peterson Oklahoma

Clinton Portis Miami, Fla.

Michael Turner North. Illinois

DeAngelo Williams Memphis

Madison Hedgecock North Carolina

LeRon McClain Alabama

Larry Fitzgerald Pitt

Andre Johnson Miami, Fla.

Steve Smith Utah

Wes Welker Texas Tech

Tony Gonzales Cal

Jason Witten Tennessee

Ryan Clady Boise St.

David Diehle Illinois

Jordan Gross Utah

Walter Jones Florida St.

Jason Peters Arkansa

Michael Roos Eastern Washington

Joe Thomas Wisconsin

Kris Delman Indiana

Alan Faneca LSU

Steve Hutchinson Michigan

Kevin Mawae LSU

Shaun O'hara Rutgers

Chris Snee Boston College

David Stewart Mississippi St.

Justin Tuck Notre Dame

Kris Jenkins Maryland

Haloti Ngata Oregon

Albert Haynesworth Tennessee

Kevin Williams Oklahoma St.

John Abraham South Carolina

Jared Allen Idaho St.

Julius Peppers North Carolina

James Farrior Virginia

Ray Lewis Miami, Fla.

John Beason Miami, Fla.

Patick Willis Ole Miss

DeMarcus Ware Troy

James Harrison Kent St.

Joey Porter Colorado St.

Terrelle Suggs Arizona St.

Antoine Winfield Ohio St.

Charles Woodson Michigan

Nnamdi Asamugha Cal

Cortland Finnegan Samford

Quinton Mikell Boise St.

Troy Polamalu USC

Adrian Wilson NC. ST.

Nick Collins Bethune-Cookman

Ed Reed Miami, Fla.

John Carney Notre Dame

Stephen Gostkowski Memphis

Donnie Jones LSU

Shane Lechler Texas A&M

Clifton Smith Fresno St.

Leon Washington Florida St.


Here is the breakdown for the above:


Big Ten All Pros: 7

SEC All Pros: 11

Big 12 All Pros: 4

ACC All Pros: 13

Conf. USA All Pros: 2

Big East All Pros: 2

Pac 10 All Pros: 5

WAC/MWC All Pros: 7

Notre Dame All Pros: 2

Misc. smaller schools (including MAC): 7


To further break it down you have the following schools with more than one All Pro:

Miami, Fla. 5

Tennessee 3


Memphis 2

North Caro. 2

Utah 2

Cal 2

Boise St. 2

Fla. St. 2

Michigan 2

Notre Dame 2


all other schools have just 1

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