1. Bishop Sankey – Washington
Sankey has been at the top of my rankings since the beginning of the 2013 season. He carried the Huskies throughout the entire year and really impressed me on tape. He is not a power back and will not mow guys over on contact. He is more of a one-cut back who has great field vision and has a knack for finding open space. I believe Sankey can step right up and produce in the NFL.
2. Ka’Deem Carey – Arizona
Carey is another guy who had a ton of success at the college level. What you’re getting from Ka’Deem Carey is a guy who can handle a heavy workload and will be able to play every down. He is one of the more polished runners in the class. Unlike Sankey, he is a hard-nosed, power back. He won’t impress with speed, which showed at the combine. But, I trust what I see on tape. And that is a guy who will rough up the defense.
3. Carlos Hyde – Ohio State
Carlos Hyde is an every down, power back as well. He rarely goes down on first contact and knows how to finish off runs. My only worry for Hyde is if he was a one year wonder. The 2013 season was like night and day compared to what how he was in the past. He showed much improvement throughout the year and demolished defenses. He has a high ceiling on what he could become in the NFL.
4. Tre Mason – Auburn
Tre Mason was a massive offensive weapon last season. He carried the Auburn Tigers to the National Championship game while earning a spot as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Mason is a good all around back. He can go inside, outside, and produce in the passing game. The biggest question I have for Mason is whether or not he was a product of the Auburn offensive system. He also ran behind one of the most dominant offensive lineman in college football, Greg Robinson.
5. Charles Sims – West Virginia
Charles Sims has the most upside of any back in the class. He was the only bright spot on an atrocious West Virginia offense. He was fantastic as a receiver, where he tore up defenses after the catch. On tape he looks like a bigger Darren Sproles. The biggest thing that Sims needs to improve is his between the tackles game. He can burn defenses out wide, but must be more consistent up the middle.
6. Lache Seastrunk – Baylor
Seastrunk played in the high paced, high-flying Baylor Bears offense. He has breakaway speed and is a threat when given space to run. He is the quickest back in the class and he has the moves to make defenders miss. He’s a guy who will earn his check running around the edge, but he must also learn how to be successful between the tackles if he wants to have a long NFL career.
7. Isaiah Crowell – Alabama State
On the field, Crowell is the best back in the county, but off the field issues crushed his college career. He had a very successful 2011 season as the main back at Georgia, but was arrested following the year on weapons charges and was dismissed from the program. He signed on at Alabama State and ate up the lower level competition. Crowell has all the talent in the world, if he can straighten out his other issues.
8. Marion Grice – Arizona State
Grice is most impressive in the passing game. He has great hands and can be a reliable third down target. He is another guy who has enough shift to make defenders miss. The downside is that he tends to dance too much behind the line of scrimmage. If he can do a better job punch the holes and improving as an all around runner, he could become a very solid NFL running back.
9. James White – Wisconsin
When it’s all said and done, I would not be surprised if James White ends up being the best running back from this class. He has the biggest chip on his shoulder out of any other running back. He has had to fight for playing time his entire career. In high school he sat behind Bengals running back Gio Bernard. At Wisconsin he was Montee Ball’s backup, and then served as Melvin Gordon’s backup last season. Yet he still found a way to get on field and be competitive. White is a guy who will put everything he has into being an NFL player.
10. Jeremy Hill – LSU
Jeremy Hill is a big, solid running back who doesn’t shy away from contact. He would rather run over a defender than try to make him miss. Hill is another guy who is surrounded by off the field issues. He is a bruiser on the field and in the past had the tendency to be one off the field as well. His maturity issue could cause him to slip on draft day.
Best of the rest: Terrance West