NFL draft preview, running backs: Where are all the backfield stars?

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 15, 2013 - 9:54 AM

If you fear that the days of the highly hyped running back have passed, this year’s NFL draft (April 25-27) might provide the most convincing supporting argument in some time.

If you fear that the days of the highly-hyped running back have passed, this year’s NFL draft (April 25-27) might provide the most convincing supporting argument in some time. It’s not only that there aren’t any ball carriers the caliber of say, Trent Richardson last season, Darren McFadden in 2008 or Adrian Peterson in 2007, it’s that the draft’s first night might come and go without a single back selected.

Not since 1963 has the first round of the draft been running back-free. And only three times in the past half-century has the draft produced only one first-round running back: 2011 (when Mark Ingram was picked 28th); 1984 (Greg Bell, 26th); and 1964 (Joe Don Looney, 12th).

In a pass-happy league, the quest to land franchise quarterbacks and big-time receivers and reliable defensive backs has become a pressing priority. And this year, the draft pool also is as deep as it’s been in the trenches in some time. On both sides of the ball.

That means even the best backs in this draft might be stuck playing the waiting game next week.

The teams most in need of running backs are Green Bay, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. But don’t be surprised if none of those organizations uses their first-round pick to plug that hole.

THE FRONT-RUNNER
Eddie Lacy, Alabama
A true workhorse back with obvious power, Lacy also is nimble for his size (5-11, 231 pounds). He waited his turn with the Crimson Tide behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, then put together his own highlight reel full of bruising runs. Lacy’s draft stock could be hindered by his limitations as a receiver and blocker. Plus he has been slowed during the predraft process by a hamstring injury.

THE CONTENDERS
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Bernard led the ACC in rushing (1,228 yards) and scoring (114 points) last season. Not only does he have an array of nifty moves out of the backfield, but he also is adept as a pass catcher and can be an explosive return guy as well.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin
An undeniable college standout, Ball produced 5,140 career rushing yards and 77 touchdowns as a Badger. But at the combine, his 4.66-second time in the 40-yard dash renewed the skepticism of many NFL scouts, who just aren’t convinced Ball has the burst to be a difference-maker at the next level.

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Before there was Louisville’s Kevin Ware, there was Lattimore, whose gruesome knee injury last October became a YouTube draw for anyone who could stomach it. At full strength, Lattimore’s quickness and vision is intriguing. But with season-ending injuries to both knees the past two seasons, durability is a concern.

THE SLEEPER
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn
His senior season production (94 carries, 570 yards, six TDs) was modest at best playing for a struggling Auburn squad. Then McCalebb turned heads with a 4.34-second run in the 40-yard dash at the combine, fastest of any running back. Might that be enough to propel the 5-10, 168-pounder in the NFL?
 

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  • Alabama’s Eddie Lacy is the highest-rated of a rather unimpressive group of running backs in this year’s draft.

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NY Yankees - M. Pineda 12:07 PM
Toronto - D. Hutchison
Detroit - M. Scherzer 12:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Sale
Chicago Cubs - F. Doubront 1:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Masterson
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 7 1st Qtr 8:56
UAB 0
(7) UCLA 0 1st Qtr 6:52
Virginia 0
Western Mich 0 1st Qtr 6:32
Purdue 7
(5) Ohio State 0 1st Qtr 6:18
Navy 0
Appalachian St 0 1st Qtr 6:21
Michigan 7
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Colorado 3:00 PM
Seattle
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
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2014 preseason     
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Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
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Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
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