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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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 4th Qtr 0:16
Atlanta 104
Utah 72 4th Qtr 9:14
Memphis 67
Washington 67 4th Qtr
Chicago 74
Milwaukee 40 2nd Qtr 8:29
Denver 34
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 3rd Prd 8:51
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 2 3rd Prd 19:38
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 3rd Prd
Minnesota 2
NY Islanders 1 2nd Prd 11:37
Dallas 0
Anaheim 1 2nd Prd
Arizona 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 14:10
Edmonton 0
San Jose 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 2nd Half 1:01
Ill-Chicago 58
Western Mich 56 2nd Half 3:29
Northern Ill 59
Nebraska Omaha 79 2nd Half 1:10
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 20 2nd Half
Clemson 21
Texas A&M 23 1st Half 1:18
Florida 24
Kentucky 21 1st Half 4:05
Georgia 22
West Virginia 32 1st Half 3:39
Kansas 22
Auburn 30 2nd Half
Missouri 30
Michigan 34 2nd Half
Northwestern 27
Villanova 12 1st Half 7:44
Creighton 16
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 52 2nd Half 4:20
Kansas State 46
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 30 1st Half 0:33
Air Force 24
San Jose St 28 2nd Half
Boise State 48
Nevada 24 2nd Half
Colorado State 37
UNLV 18 1st Half 0:10
San Diego State 24
Wyoming 29 2nd Half
Utah State 28
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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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