NFL Draft: Analyzing the Top RBs
As we continue on with our positions analysis and rankings for the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, we previously went over the top QBs and now it’s time to move on to the next position. Today, we’ll be going over what has been a very devalued position for the last 5-10 years, the RB. Even though we have seen a couple go in the top 5 the past 2 years, the position has become a very replaceable spot. So, in saying that, let’s get right into highlighting the top RBs in the draft. (Listed player are in order of my rankings)
Saquan Barkley – Penn State
Barkley is literally a freak physical specimen. He’s 233 pounds and ran a 4.40 forty, benched 225 pounds 29 times and had a 41-inch vertical. He runs strong, can go inside and outside and has the speed to run against from a lot of defensive backs. To add to this, he can actually catch the football like a WR. If you ask my opinion, he’s the best player in this draft and if you have a QB that can start the next 2-3 years, he has to be your pick. He’s a team changing type of RB. He’s Todd Gurley, pre-injury.
Derrius Guice – LSU
Guice is impressive in his own right. For a guy that is only 212 pounds, he runs with power and has good speed. His biggest weakness is he battled a few injuries last year and the team that drafts him has to hope that he doesn’t become injury prone. If you look at his tape form 2016, he looks like a top 10 pick. However, if you look at his tape from last year, he looked, at times, like a 2nd round guy. Taking a RB early has its risks, teams will have to weigh if he’s worth it.
Rashaad Penny – San Diego State
Penny may not be very known to the mainstream fans, but he has 1 of the best combinations of size and speed in the draft. He sometimes can run a little upright, but he has shown what he can do and Eddie George also had an upright running style. He will be a day 2 choice and could have a Kareem Hunt type impact. He’s not a great pass catcher, but he’s passable.
Sony Michel – Georgia
Michel is a #DraftTwitter favorite. He has shown the ability to catch the ball, as well as have the breakaway speed that he needs in the league. At 220 pounds, he has the frame to take the necessary pounding that a typical starting RB handles. One thing that will give him a quick advantage in the league is that he’s a good pass blocker. He needs to run more decisive because when he does, he’s electric.
Ronald Jones – USC
Speaking of electric, Jones may be the most electric back in the draft. Despite pulling his hammy at the combine, which explains his forty time of 4.65, Jones has the type of long speed that compares him to LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. He is only 200 pounds, so he may have to team up in a committee, but he will be too much of a playmaker to leave off the field.
Kerryon Johnson – Auburn
Johnson is a very solid back that has 1 of the quickest bursts through the line of anyone on this list. His problem is that he’s more of a 1 cut, downhill, runner. He is another one that runs a little upright and without having the side to side lateral quickness, it could leave him susceptible to big hits, which lead to injuries. I don’t think a team will draft him as a NFL starter, but he could be good within a committee.
Nick Chubb – Georgia
I loved Nick Chubb for his 1st year and a half at Georgia, then he got hurt. Since then, I have not seen the same back as he was pre-injury. He has good size at 228 pounds, but he’s not that fast and he’s not a great pass catcher. I see him as a goal-line back. Instead of a team using him just within the 5-yard line, could be useful within the red zone.
Nyheim Hines – NC State
Hines is one of my favorite RBs in the draft. If you are looking at a possible Darren Sproles, this is your guy. Hines is super-fast, a great pass catcher, and very elusive. He does have some issues running between the tackles, but that’s not what you draft this guy for. Get him in space and watch him go. Could easily have the same type of impact that Tarik Cohen had last year for the Chicago Bears, he was drafted in the 4th round, same could be true for Hines.
Royce Freeman – Oregon
I’m not very high on Freeman, but I do think he has a spot in the league. A team will probably take him in the 4th or 5th round. He’s a big-bodied back that runs a little like Brandon Jacobs, or Ron Dayne, or how LeGarrette Blount ran in college. He has the size to take a hit. Although he doesn’t run with the authority to make people not want to hit him. He needs to run with more force and punish defensive guys that take a shot at him.
Bo Scarbrough – Alabama
Scarbrough is another guy that at one point, people thought he could be a big-time back. But as the NFL continues to change to more spread offenses that need speed and backs that can catch, it may be leaving Scarbrough in the Trent Richardson range. Just like Freeman, he has a big body and the NFL can find a spot for him. He actually does deliver a blow when running, so he’d make a perfect goal-line back. However, he has shown to be a little injury prone. That will push him to be a day 3 pick.
If you are asking me, I think the 1st 5 above can come in and be NFL starters day 1. The other 5 will likely be joining a running back by committee situation. Which may help them do what they do best without exposing them to their weakness. The running back has gone full circle, from being a highly valued position, to at 1 point not having any taken in the 1st round entirely, to now seemingly making its comeback. As I always say about the RB position, they are easily replaceable, until you don’t have one.