NFL draft preview: Running backs

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    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    NFL draft preview: Running backs

    08:55 AM CDT on Monday, April 20, 2009
    By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News


    There could be as many as four running backs in the first round, but it falls off dramatically from there. From the third round on there are several players who pencil in as second and third backs in a team's offensive rotation.

    THE TOP 15
    Player School Ht. Wt. Noteworthy
    1. Beanie Wells Ohio St. 6-1 235 16 career 100-yard games
    2. Knowshon Moreno Georgia 5-10 ½ 217 18 touchdowns in 2008
    3. Donald Brown UConn 5-10 210 2008 NCAA leading rusher
    4. LeSean McCoy Pitt. 5-10 198 Caught 65 career passes
    5. Shonn Greene Iowa 5-10 ½ 227 20 touchdowns in 2008
    6. Andre Brown N.C. St. 6-0 224 4.37 speed in the 40
    7. Glen Coffee Alabama 6-0 209 5.9-yard average in 2008
    8. Javon Ringer Mich. St. 5-9 205 23 career 100-yard games
    9. Kory Sheets Purdue 5-11 208 4.39 speed in the 40
    10. f-Tony Fiammetta Syracuse 6-0 245 No TDs in 16 career carries
    11. James Davis Clemson 5-10 218 Two-time All-ACC selection
    12. Cedric Peerman Virginia 5-9 ½ 216 4.34 speed in the 40
    13. Rashad Jennings Liberty 6-1 231 23 career 100-yard games
    14. f-Quinn Johnson LSU 6-0 ½ 246 3 TDs in 16 career carries
    15. Jeremiah Johnson Oregon 5-8 ½ 209 7.1-yard average in 2008
    f-fullback; potential first-round picks in bold

    Spotlight on: Javon Ringer, Michigan State
    Javon Ringer entered the 2008 NCAA season as the NFL's top-rated senior running back prospect for the 2009 draft. He seemingly enhanced his draft stock by finishing fourth in the nation in rushing with 1,637 yards and first in scoring with 22 touchdowns and 132 points.

    But instead, his draft stock has tumbled.

    That's because younger running backs with fresher legs decided to skip their senior seasons to turn pro in 2009, pushing Ringer out of the first round all the way into the middle rounds.

    "I didn't think too much about it," Ringer said. "I didn't make it a concern of mine. It was just more competition."

    So Ringer enters the NFL draft process as an underdog. He thinks he performs better in that capacity.

    "When I was at Michigan State, we were never one of the top teams in the Big Ten," Ringer said. "We were never one of the teams everyone expected to succeed. I've always been on teams that had to work to overachieve and do better than everyone expects us.

    "That's helped me out now because it's kept me competitive, it's allowed me to keep my edge and strive to be better than everyone expects me to be."

    Ringer joined Lorenzo White as the only players to lead the Spartans in rushing four consecutive seasons. He finished as the No. 2 all-time rusher at Michigan State with 4,398 yards.

    The best: Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State
    Wells is the home-run hitter in this draft. He's a big back who runs like a small one with six career touchdowns of 50-plus yards. A two-year starter who is skipping his senior season to turn pro, Wells leaves Ohio State as the school's No. 4 all-time rusher with 3,382 yards. He averaged 5.8 yards in 585 career carries.

    Sleeper: Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas
    There are three categories of backs – runners, blockers and pass catchers. Ogbonnaya may be the best of the pass catchers in this draft, which gives him value in the NFL as a third-down back. His 46 receptions last season broke Eric Metcalf's school record for the position. He caught 75 in his career. His prowess shouldn't be a surprise – he went to Texas as a wideout.

    Best of Texas: Mike Goodson, Texas A&M
    The Klein product is skipping his senior season to turn pro. He has prototypical NFL size (5-11 ½ , 209) and speed (4.46 in the 40) but doesn't have the college productivity with only 406 yards rushing last season and 1,964 in his career.

    Draft projection: Rounds 5-7

    Legends: The backs who left campus as their school's all-time leading rusher were Terrion Adams of Tulsa, Donald Brown of Connecticut, Herb Donaldson of Western Illinois, Rashad Jennings of Liberty, Devin Moore of Wyoming and Bernard Scott of Abilene Christian. In addition, Jorvorskie Lane left Texas A&M and Kory Sheets Purdue as their schools' all-time touchdown producers. Lane scored 50 times and Sheets 54.

    Prep legend: Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton is the state of Ohio's all-time leading high school rusher with 9,429 yards. He rushed for 3,886 more at Northwestern.

    2,000-yard Club: Donald Brown, Kory Sheets, Chris Wells, Kahlil Bell of UCLA, Arian Foster of Tennessee, Brad Lester of Auburn, Marlon Lucky of Nebraska, Devin Moore of Wyoming, Bernard Scott of Abilene Christian, LaRod Howling-Stephens of Pitt and Jarvarris Williams of Tennessee State all were 2,000-yard rushers in high school. Cedric Peerman of Virginia and Javon Ringer of Michigan State each rushed for 2,000-yards twice as preps, and Andre Brown of North Carolina State was a 3,000-yard rusher. Donald Brown was the only one of that group, though, to rush for 2,000 yards at the college level, leading the NCAA with 2,083 yards last season.

    Leaving early: Of the 53 underclassmen who applied for early admission to the 2009 draft, eight were running backs: Wells, Moreno, Donald Brown, McCoy, Greene, Coffee, Mike Goodson of Texas A&M and P.J. Hill of Wisconsin.

    Workhorses: There's a school of thought that there are only so many carries in a running back's body – so don't burn them all up at the college level. That's why annually there are so many underclassmen entering the NFL draft at running back – better to get paid for those 300 carries as a rookie than unpaid as a college senior. Shonn Greene leaves Iowa early with just 386 career carries. Here's a list of the senior running backs in this draft with the busiest college careers:

    Name School No.
    Branden Ore W. Liberty St. 856
    Javon Ringer Mich. St. 843
    Herb Donaldson W. Illinois 828
    P.J. Hill Wisconsin 770
    James Davis Clemson 753
    Ian Johnson Boise St. 753
    Tyrell Sutton Northwestern 731
    Rashad Jennings Liberty 719

    All in the family: Pitt fullback Conredge Collins is the son of Tony Collins, a second-round pick by New England in 1981. He spent seven seasons as an NFL running back.

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