2013 NFL Draft: The 5 Best Running Backs You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
2013 NFL Draft Top 5 Unknown Running Backs
When it comes to the NFL Draft, nothing is certain. Players who are touted as being a "sure thing" can end up being huge disappointments, while many players who slide under the radar end up being huge stars.
Case in point - Tom Brady was graded by some scouts as being the worst quarterback in his draft class, while the now incarcerated Ryan Leaf was picked ahead Charles Woodson, Fred Taylor and Randy Moss.
So much for the football equivalent of Sabermetrics.
With the lifespan of NFL running backs becoming shorter and shorter, the idea of finding a late round bargain to man the backfield sits high on the list of many scouts and GMs. The rare gems like Terrell Davis, Jamal Anderson and Ernest Byner don't come around often, but they are out there. It takes a keen eye and a lot of luck to stumble upon one of those type players.
Not many people had actually heard of Robert Turbin (pictured above) heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, but I guarantee you they knew who he was by the time the Seattle Seahawks marched into the playoffs.
Most know of the names coming from the big conference schools, but there are still some talented backs out there in little known (and little televised) schools who could easily contribute in major ways to an NFL team.
Here are five running backs who may have gone somewhat unnoticed, but could by sneaky good if picked up by the right team. It's up to the experts to decide which of these relative unknowns to give a shot.
#5: Latavious Murray - UCF
Latavious Murray out of the University of Central Florida isn't your prototypical back. At 6'3, 225 lbs Murray is not the rumbling "knees and shoulderpads" kind of back. He led the Conference USA, averaging 100.5 yards per game, and had 15 rushing touchdowns, placing him second on the UCF single-season list. Murray averages between a 4.5 and 4.6 forty, giving him sprinters speed on his long legs. Despite his length and speed, Murray was known for headfirst running between the tackles, and isn't afraid to take a hit. Best of all, in his entire career at UCF, Murray only lost one fumble (as a freshman), and had no fumbles in his final 407 carries.
#4: Washaun Ealey - Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State running back Washaun Ealey may not be an entirely unfamiliar name to some. Ealey began his career at Georgia, following in the footsteps of Knowshon Moreno. Off-field troubles forced Ealey to leave UGA, and he ended up at nearby JSU. He ran into legal troubles once again this past September, being arrested on drug charges, so his questionable past makes him a risk at best. But Ealey's talent could be enough to outweigh the risks. His skills have never been in question, only his character. A coach like Bill Belichick could find a way to use a multi-purpose back like Ealey.
#3: Stefphon Jefferson - Nevada
Colin Kaepernick wasn't the only one racking up yards at Nevada over the past few years. RB Stefphon Jefferson could be this year's Alfred Morris and be a big surprise in the NFL. Jefferson has speed, power and size. He finished second in the FBS in rushing this year with 1,883 yards (5.0 average) and added 24 touchdowns. He also proved to be a force catching passes out of the backfield, with 22 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. Jefferson was a backup in 2011 and 2010, so right now he could be considered pretty fresh - an important factor in the selection of running backs right now.
#2: Robbie Rouse - Fresno State
Robbie Rouse could be the perfect back for teams looking for the next Darren Sproles or Warrick Dunn. The Fresno State product was as steady as they come during his college career, with the ability to run, catch passes, and break off huge runs in open space. Rouse has amazing quickness, and his 5'6 size can help him get lost behind huge linemen. He'll never be a 300 carry per-season back, but his versatility could make him invaluable to NFL teams.
#1: Zac Stacy - Vanderbilt
Yes, there may actually be a running back in the SEC who escaped the masses. In case you hadn't noticed, head coach James Franklin has the Vanderbilt Commodores actually competing in SEC country, and Zac Stacy has been a huge part of that success. Vanderbilt ran the ball on about 60 percent of their snaps in 2012, so Stacy was leaned on heavily. He ended up his career as Vandy's all-time leading rusher, and is probably the most complete running back in this year's draft class. He runs a legit 4.4 forty, and has some of the most powerful legs in the FBS. Teams looking for a back to just take the load without question should look no further than Stacy.