2014 NFL Draft: Top 10 Eligible Running Backs
2014 NFL Draft: 10 Most Promising Running Backs
Running back is a position that has seemingly been more and more devalued in recent years as it pertains to the NFL Draft. Teams around the league are firing passes through the air at unprecedented rates and featuring tandems over one-back systems on a frequent basis. However, there will be a plethora of talent available at the position in next year’s draft.
The following group of third and fourth year lettermen is comprised of ten of the most promising running backs that are eligible for entry into the 2014 NFL Draft. Some are solidly built, downhill runners that can shoulder a three-down type of workload for an offense. Others are smaller yet fleet-footed flash-bangs that can go the distance any time the ball is in their hands.
Surprisingly, the vaunted SEC is not represented on the list and for good reason. College football’s toughest conference largely features several of the nation’s best backs that will not reach eligibility until 2015. Georgia's Todd Gurley, LSU's Jeremy Hill and South Carolina’s Mike Davis could all be fashioning NFL uniforms in two years. As for Auburn’s Tre Mason and Mississippi State's LaDarius Perkins, they barely missed the cut.
Now that southern based college football fans have hopefully been appeased by the recognition afforded to their gridiron ground games, we can move on to naming the top 10 tailbacks that could be headed to a stadium near you in the spring. Of course, this list could take on a different look as soon as next week.
10. David Fluellen (Senior - Toledo)
As the centerpiece of the Toledo Rockets’ offense, David Fluellen broke out in 2012 with nearly 1,500 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and 32 receptions out of the backfield. That form has been maintained so far in his senior season. Over the last four weeks, the workhorse back is averaging 26 carries and 172 yards per game.
9. Antonio Andrews (Senior - Western Kentucky)
Although Antonio Andrews is leading the Bowl Subdivision with 1,036 rushing yards, he is mostly flying under the radar in the Sun Belt Conference. Much maligned head coach Bobby Petrino’s starting running back is successfully following up on the huge numbers recorded last season. Andrews put up 2,160 yards of total offense with 14 touchdowns as a junior.
8. Isaiah Crowell (Junior - Alabama State)
Named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011, Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the University of Georgia football program in disgrace just a couple of months before his sophomore season. Now in his second year under the tutelage of a former NFL wide receiver in Alabama State Head Coach Reggie Barlow, he is averaging 7.6 yards per carry with a dozen touchdowns in seven games.
7. Marion Grice (Senior - Arizona State)
As a part of Head Coach Todd Graham’s offense, Marion Grice has only averaged 10 carries for 56 yards per game. However, the senior has impressive skills as a receiver and a nose for the end zone. He has crossed the goal line 34 times in 19 career games at Arizona State.
6. Ameer Abdullah (Junior - Nebraska)
With senior quarterback Taylor Martinez sidelined the past three games due to injury, third-year running back Ameer Abdullah has been counted on to shoulder the load offensively for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He has answered that call with 558 yards of offense and four touchdowns over that stretch. Potential as a return man could also lead NFL teams to covet the talented athlete.
5. Melvin Gordon III (RS Sophomore - Wisconsin)
Melvin Gordon III, “MG3” to Wisconsin Badger fans, put up an amazing performance in last season’s Big Ten Championship Game rushing for 216 yards on a mere nine attempts. He has continued to display the same type of play making ability so far in 2013. The dynamic back has racked up 870 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on just 90 carries this season.
4. Lache Seastrunk (Senior - Baylor)
A huge factor in the Baylor Bears' 5-0 start and No. 12 ranking, Lache Seastrunk is in the midst of an outstanding senior season. Sporting an average of nearly 130 rushing yards per game and 10.1 per attempt with eight scores, he has garnered the attention of NFL scouts everywhere. Seastrunk combines top-notch speed with a solid physical frame.
3. Ka'Deem Carey (Junior - Arizona)
Leading the nation with 1,929 rushing yards last season, Ka’Deem Carey gained attention from all corners of the map. He has been of the field for four of the Arizona Wildcats’ five games this year and featured similar results with 94 carrier for 569 yards and five scores. Carey’s all-encompassing skills as a runner and solid hands should place him high on draft boards.
2. De'Anthony Thomas (Junior - Oregon)
De’Anthony Thomas is the do-it-all athlete of this group. An electrifying speedster, he has the ability to become an asset on offense and special teams at the next level. Thomas has 1,634 rushing yards, 94 receptions and 42 total touchdowns in 30 games at the University of Oregon. Four of those scores came in the return game. The junior has true 4.3 level speed that NFL front offices crave.
1. Bishop Sankey (Junior - Washington)
Washington Huskies star tailback Bishop Sankey is currently leading the FBS with 149.8 rushing yards per game. He also leads the nation with 159 carries. In fact, he has carried the rock at least 25 times in five of six games this season resulting in 899 yards, nine touchdowns and an average of 5.8 yards per attempt. Napoleon Kaufman, Washington’s all-time leader in rushing yards and 18th overall pick of 1995 NFL Draft, has said of Sankey, “He reminds me of Emmitt Smith, in that he can do everything well - run, catch, block.”