Welcome to the series of the positional big boards that will go on a weekly basis. Today we will be taking a look at the running back class that continues to churn out talent despite the annual drain that occurs at the college level.
1. Saquon Barkley 5’11 223 Penn State Junior
- I don’t think he’s the “generational” talent some people make him out to be but he’s really good. A quintessential workhorse back that did everything for PSU, including returning kicks. Agility is something special. He can stop and go on a dime. Got into hurdling defenders in 2017 for some reason (go check out the hurdle against Iowa). Character and work ethic are major pluses. Solidly built frame. He’s an amazing talent. Still dominated the most recent Fiesta Bowl when he was actively on a snap count. Watch the Rose Bowl from a couple years ago against USC. He good. Production is excellent. Workload is a concern as he’s logged 617 carries in just 3 years. Increased his receiving stats every year. Top 10 lock.
2. Ronald Jones 6’1 195 USC Junior
- A home run threat every play. Explosive runner. He’s an elite athlete that can find any hole in the defense and exploit it for big yards. A perfect fit for any zone scheme as he has some serious plant foot skills. A slippery type of back that relishes contact when needed. Increased production every year. Averaged 5.9 yards per carry in his career. Good receiver out of the backfield. Some have compared him to former Chiefs great Jamaal Charles.
3. Derrius Guice 5’11 212 LSU Junior
- The heir apparent to Leonard Fournette is a talented prospect in his own right. He’s a sudden quick twitch athlete. Agility is a major plus. The medical will be key for him as he was in and out of the lineup in 2017 with knee issues. Didn’t miss a beat as the man in the Tigers offense. A capable receiver out of the backfield. Instincts and vision are a plus. Not as a heavy workload (thanks to Fournette) as some of the other highly rated backs.
4. Sony Michel 5’11 222 Georgia Senior
- Michel is a big play machine. A very natural runner who can find the hole rapidly. Very good athlete in space. Has that make you miss ability. He exploded onto the scene as a sophomore when stud teammate Nick Chubb went down with a knee injury. The past two years, he has split duties with the aforementioned Chubb, so he should be relatively fresh for the next level. Production is above average for a guy in his role. He was an absolute machine as a senior, rushing for 1,227 yards and 16 touchdowns at a 7.9 per rush clip. Knows where the hole is and hits it with authority. The Rose Bowl against Oklahoma was some showing he had. Dominated the Sooners and scored the game winning TD in overtime.
5. Royce Freeman 5’11 231 Oregon Senior
- Freeman is the all time leader in rushing touchdowns in Pac-12 history with 60. That record was with a mediocre injury filled 2016 where he scored a mere 9. He’s a big back that will run people over between the tackles. Second all time in Pac-12 career rushing yards. Elusive in space. Average pass protector. The medicals will be very essential for him as he had missed significant time with various leg issues in 2016. The workload he had to endure as a Duck is massive. He had a whopping 947 carries so the wear and tear concern is there. Had a solid Senior Bowl week by all accounts.
Best of the Rest
6. Mark Walton 5’9 205 Junior Miami
7. Nick Chubb 5’10 228 Senior Georgia
8. Akrum Wadley 5’11 195 Senior Iowa
9. Rashaad Penny 5’11 220 Senior San Diego State
10. Ito Smith 5’9 195 Senior Southern Mississippi