2014 NFL draft preview: Running backs

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2014 - 11:33 PM
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Auburn running back Tre Mason ran a drill at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February.

Photo: NAM Y. HUH, Associated Press

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It might be a while until we see a running back selected in the top 10 picks in the NFL draft again.

The decision to select Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall pick in 2007 turned out to be a wise one for the Vikings, but since then only three running backs have been selected in the top 10 (Darren McFadden in 2008, C.J. Spiller in 2010 and Trent Richardson in 2012). None has come close to having an impact similar to what Peterson has provided for the Vikings.

Last year was the first year since 1963 in which a running back wasn’t selected in the first round, and with the position devalued because of explosive NFL passing attacks and a short shelf life for running backs, many draft analysts think 2014 will make it two years in a row.

“I don’t think it’s anything negative on the running backs,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said on a recent conference call. “I just think that it’s a pass-first league now so you’re seeing a lot of different draft picks getting pushed up ahead.”

Mayock said he believes this year’s class of running backs is deep and talented, even if it lacks a prospect of Peterson’s ilk. Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Auburn’s Tre Mason are widely considered to be two of the best, and there are a bunch of backs — with vastly different skill sets — who may interest the Vikings as they search for a young runner to pair with Peterson.

“There are a lot of different flavors out there depending on what kind of offense you run,” Mayock said.

THE FRONT-RUNNER

Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State

A 6-foot, 230-pound power back with a little bit of burst and wiggle, Hyde rushed for 1,521 yards on 208 carries during his senior season, which started three games late after he was suspended following an alleged assault. If someone sneaks into the first round, it will be Hyde.

THE CONTENDERS

Tre Mason, RB, Auburn

Mason’s shorter stature — he’s 5-9 — and his powerful lower body have drawn him comparisons to Ravens running back Ray Rice. He helped carry Auburn to the BCS title game in 2013 with 1,816 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, but with 317 carries, he took a beating.

Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

Carey is said to lack top-end speed and some will argue that he was simply another product of a Rich Rodriguez offense. But his staggering 4,290 yards from scrimmage over the past two seasons are proof it was tough for defenses to slow him down. The Vikings have shown interest.

 

Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

Freeman, who visited the Vikings in April, is another pint-sized back who put up big numbers last season. Freeman led the national champs with 1,016 rushing yards. He also has the skills to be a factor in the passing game, theoretically complementing Peterson well.

THE SLEEPER

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Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona - LP: O. Perez 0 FINAL
Washington - WP: R. Soriano 1
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta 6 Top 4th Inning
Cincinnati 0
LA Angels 1 Bottom 5th Inning
Boston 0
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:55 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
San Diego - T. Ross 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Pittsburgh 0 2nd Qtr 9:43
Philadelphia 14
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Washington 56 4th Qtr 5:41
Indiana 57
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Minnesota
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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 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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