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

Terrance West, RB, Towson

West set the FCS single-season rushing record in 2013 with 2,519 yards. In the process, he pretty much single-handedly carried Towson to the FCS national title game. While he is on the shorter side, this potential Vikings target weighs 225 and has the burst to get outside.

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New England 0 2nd Qtr 11:59
Seattle 0
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 67 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(20) Iowa 88 FINAL
(5) Maryland 93
(1) South Carolina 77 FINAL
Ole Miss 59
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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     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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