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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Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston 1 Top 7th Inning
Pittsburgh 3
Toronto 0 Bottom 7th Inning
NY Yankees 2
Washington 6 Bottom 7th Inning
Miami 2
Los Angeles 0 Top 4th Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
Cleveland 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Houston 0
Milwaukee 1 Top 4th Inning
St. Louis 0
Arizona 0 Top 3rd Inning
Colorado 1
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 8:10 PM
San Diego - R. Erlin
Seattle - F. Hernandez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - W. LeBlanc
Tampa Bay 0 2nd Qtr
Atlanta 21
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 10 3rd Qtr
(20) Kansas State 7
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
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