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Commish’s NFL Draft Breakdown: Running Backs

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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I just wanted to give a little explanation before I get into my positional breakdown below.  I have 3 categories with each player.

First, I tell you the main reason I would take a player.  This isn’t every reason I would give to take a certain player.  I wanted to narrow it down to one specific reason.

I then tell the main reason for not wanting to draft a player.  Typically with the draft, team’s look for reasons not to draft a player, so I give you at least one with every player mentioned.

Finally, I give you an NFL comparison for each player.  This DOES NOT mean that the player being compared will go on to the exact career that the player they’re being compared to had or is having.  I’m strictly giving examples of players who have a similar skill set as the player in this year’s draft.

Here are my top 10 running backs for the 2012 NFL Draft:

1. Trent Richardson – Alabama 5’9” – 228 lbs – 4.48 Top 5

Why The Commish would take him: Richardson is the best all-around back in this draft.  He is a feature back that runs with power, speed, can catch the ball, and is great in the locker room.

Why The Commish would stay away: The track record of 1st round running backs has not been good.  I hesitate slightly investing a high draft pick in a running back, although it’s slightly less of a risk with the new CBA.

NFL Comparison: Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams

2. David Wilson – Virginia Tech 5’10” – 206 lbs – 4.40 1st/2nd Round

Why The Commish would take him: There is no doubt that Wilson has the break-away speed that is so attractive, but he also possesses the ability to run with strength between the tackles.

Why The Commish would stay away: Ball security is my biggest worry.  Wilson had fumbled 7 times last season before Thanksgiving, while losing 4.

NFL Comparison: Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs

3. Doug Martin – Boise St. 5’9” – 223 lbs – 4.55 2nd Round

Why The Commish would take him: Martin is a fantastic all-around back that runs with power and balance.  He is also a good threat in the passing game as a receiver and a blocker.

Why The Commish would stay away: Martin lacks the flash and elite speed to be a homerun threat on every play.

NFL Comparison: Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens

4. Lamar Miller – Miami 5’11” – 212 lbs – 4.40 2nd Round

Why The Commish would take him: Miller shows great wiggle and the break-away speed to take any carry for a touchdown.

Why The Commish would stay away: There are durability concerns especially with his shoulders.  Miller might be best as a complement to a bigger back.

NFL Comparison: Lesean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles

5. Chris Polk – Washington 5’10” – 215 lbs – 4.57 3rd Round

Why The Commish would take him: Polk’s biggest strength in my eyes is his vision and cut-back ability.  He also has a nice burst through the hole once he finds it.

Why The Commish would stay away: I’m not a fan of his running style as Polk stands upright when he runs.  He leaves himself susceptible to big hits and can lack ideal balance running upright.  With that said, an upright running style has worked for Matt Forte, which led to my comparison.

NFL Comparison: Matt Forte – Chicago Bears

6. Robert Turbin – Utah St. 5’10” – 222 lbs – 4.50 3rd Round

Why The Commish would take him: Turbin is a powerful back with enough elusiveness to make a defender miss.  I think Turbin could be a sleeper in this draft, which is why I have him rated higher than others.

Why The Commish would stay away: A torn ACL in 2010 and a lack of elite game speed are my only concerns.

NFL Comparison: Michael Bush – Chicago Bears

7. LaMichael James – Oregon 5’8” – 194 lbs – 4.41 3rd Round

Why The Commish would take him: James’ biggest asset is his speed and elusiveness.  he would be a nice change-of-pace back to a bigger more powerful back.

Why The Commish would stay away: I’m not a fan of James’ lack of durability with his elbow and his inability to carry much of a load in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints

8. Bernard Pierce – Temple 6’0” – 218 lbs – 4.49 4th Round

Why The Commish would take him: Pierce has a very good blend of size and speed.  He runs tough and hard, while doing a good job of breaking tackles.

Why The Commish would stay away: Pierce struggled against top competition and also struggled with injuries throughout his entire career.  A concussion in 2011 has me very concerned, especially  with the way the NFL is with those type of injuries.

NFL Comparison: Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills

9. Vick Ballard – Mississippi St. 5’10” – 219 lbs – 4.54 4th/5th Round

Why The Commish would take him: Reliable is a good word to use with Ballard.  He does a good job at not fumbling, he is a patient runner, and always gets what the defense gives him.

Why The Commish would stay away: Ballard is not a game-breaker.  He lacks elite speed and does not have much wiggle to his game.

NFL Comparison: Chris Ivory – New Orleans Saints

10. Isaiah Pead – Cincinnati 5’10” – 197 lbs – 4.47 5th Round

Why The Commish would take him: Former USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder told me that Pead was in a different class when talking about Big East running backs last year.  Pead isn’t the biggest back, but runs with a lot of power, and has the speed to break long runs.

Why The Commish would stay away: Pead just doesn’t have the ability to run between the tackles in the NFL.  At best, Pead is a complementary back who provides some pass catching ability.

NFL Comparison: Joe McKnight – New York Jets

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