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2011 NFL Draft - Running Back Rankings
Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, DeMarco Murray
Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, DeMarco Murray
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 11, 2011


The 2011 running back class should be stronger than the 2010 group with the key a deep crop of runners with various skills. In the new NFL world of more running back-by-committee approaches, there are several good ten-touch prospects. Even so, the stars, Mark Ingram, Mikel Leshoure, and DeMarco Murray, should be great. Check out the CFN ranking of running backs for the 2011 NFL Draft.

2011 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Top Ten Running Backs


By Pete Fiutak

2011 NFL Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | OTs | OGs | Cs

2011 NFL Post-Combine Draft Rankings
- Top 32 Talents
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders & Top Free Agents  

2011 NFL Combine Position Analysis
- QB | RB | WR | TE
- C | OT | OG | DE
- DT | ILB | OLB | S | CB
- 2012's Top Returning NFL Prospects - Offense

THE 2010 NFL DRAFT


2010 CFN Talent Rankings
- 1st Rounders
- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
- 4th Rounders
- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders 
- Top Free Agent Talents 

2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs

2010 NFL Combine Quick Looks & Post-Combine Rankings

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs

2010 NFL Combine Results
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs 

2010 NFL Combine
- Offensive Winners  
- Offensive Losers 
- Defensive Winners 
- Defensive Losers

- 2011 NFL Running Back Rankings - No. 11 to 30

This Class Is … lousy up top, excellent down the line. Mark Ingram is the star of the show, and Mikel Leshoure could be a good one, but the value is down the line with plenty of good runners who can carry the ball ten times a game in a rotation, like the new NFL world demands out of the running-back-by-committee approach.

The Best Value Pick Will Be … Jamie Harper, Clemson
Most Underrated … DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
Most Overrated … Dion Lewis, Pitt
The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is … Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama 5-9, 215 (Jr.)
The 2009 Heisman winner and main cog for a national title team is the one back in the draft who might be a franchise difference maker. In today’s day and age of multiple back rotations and dime-a-dozen runners, Ingram has it when it comes to that special something that makes a great back special. Emmitt Smith didn’t run fast and wasn’t all that big, but he always seemed to know how to produce, and that’s Ingram … to a point.

He’s a very thick, very tough runner with better hands than he gets credit for, and with an innate ability to make the right cut at the very last nanosecond, he’s the definition of a downhill runner. Patient, he rarely makes a wrong decision and he makes up for his errors with power and always fighting through contact.

While he had a decent Combine, showed he doesn’t have elite speed and is a mediocre athlete. Forget about any home runs and he’s not going to provide the Adrian Peterson-like highlight runs. He was dinged up early last year and was never consistent, and there might be some concern that he’s a bit of a one-year wonder. With his running style he might have a short shelf life, but he’ll be ultra-productive for a few years on the right team. CFN Projection: First Round

2. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois 6-0, 227
He’s not going to be Rashard Mendenhall, but he has the toughness and ability to handle the rock 25 times per game. With just enough speed to get by, he can be a home run hitter and he’s extremely quick and decisive when he gets a little room to move. A great athlete who’s cut, strong, and looks like a prototype NFL back, all the parts are there to succeed. Does he need to be in the right system, like Mendenhall? No, but he’d be a 2010 Arian Foster-like superstar in a zone-blocking scheme and would be terrific in a power running system. While he can be anyone’s No. 1 back, he’ll be terrific as a 15-carry No. 2 hammer.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech 5-10, 212
Extremely quick and with a pop to his finishes, he flies through the hole and doesn’t get brought down with a simple arm tackle. Give him a sliver of daylight and he’ll fly through it. With a passion for the game, he wants to succeed and he wants to be The Guy who takes over the offense and makes it his. The problem is his durability. He was a one-year wonder and couldn’t get over an ankle injury that kept him down most of the season, but if he’s asked to be a part of a rotation, even if he’s the No. 1 guy, he’ll be phenomenal.
CFN Projection: Second Round

4. Demarco Murray, Oklahoma 6-0, 214
Fast, fast, fast, Murray has one of the best blends of strength and speed in the draft, but he had a vast array of big injuries during his career. With his basic skills, great hands for the passing game, and with return skills, he can be used in a variety of ways and can be a jack-of-all-trades. While he doesn’t look like a running back and is built like a tall, tough receiver, he could be a devastating playmaker with ten good touches a game. With his injury history, he can’t be relied on to last a full season.
CFN Projection: Third Round

5. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State 6-0, 230
Very big, very tough, and very thick, Thomas has the body and the bulk to be a full-time workhorse runner. Even though he was the only thing anyone had to worry about on the Kansas State offense, he still produced at a high level week in and week out. While he wasn’t needed for the passing game – or wasn’t used – he can catch the ball. He’s not a speedster and he’s not necessarily a powerful between-the-tackles runner, but there’s little downside. He might not be a special NFL back, but he can certainly be very, very good as long as someone doesn’t think he’s a battering ram.
CFN Projection: Second Round

6. Shane Vereen, California 5-10, 210
Speed. He might not be the fastest back in the draft, but he moves quickly and decisively. If he gets a little room to move, bu-bye. While he’s not huge, he’s not afraid to use a little power from time to time and he was lineman-strong on the bench at the Combine. However, he doesn’t always run to his strengths, or more accurately, to his speed, and he isn’t going to produce on a consistent basis. While he’s not going to be anyone’s all-star, in today’s day and age, he’ll be perfect in part of a rotation.
CFN Projection: Third Round

7. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State 5-7, 199
He’s very fast, very tough, and he has no problems fighting for yards, but he’s way too small to be an every down back. He’s not afraid to work between the tackles and he has the wheels to fly around on the outside, but he’s going to get beaten up. While he tried to get on the field in2009, he was banged up and couldn’t get over an ankle problem. He’ll try to block and he’ll try to be physical, but he doesn’t have the bulk. There’s no questioning his desire or his toughness, and he’ll have a few games here and there where he looks like an All-Pro. He’s just not going to do it for a full season.
CFN Projection: Third Round

8. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State 5-6, 196
The knock will always be his size, but raw speed is now a question, too. Everyone knew he was small, and then he checked in at under 5-6 and there was even more of a red mark next to his name. Making matters worse was his horrendous 40 time running just a 4.64. Ultra durable, he’s one big muscle and he has to be dragged off the field. Very quick, very tough, and very productive, he has the résumé and the talent, but there’s not much tread on the tires after taking a beating for the last three years and, of course, there’s the size. He’ll likely be a very good role player who comes up with a big game here and there.
CFN Projection: Third Round

9. Jordan Todman, Connecticut 5-9, 203 (Jr.)
Tough as nails, the guy took a huge beating over the course of his career as the lone offensive weapon and a one-track UConn attack. While he ran with great power and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty, he opened eyes with his terrific timed speed in workouts, hovering around the 4.4 mark. He’s not going to be able to shove anyone around in the NFL like he did in the Big East, and he’s not all that big, but he cuts well, won’t back down from an assignment, and is a high-character player who’ll be easily coachable.
CFN Projection: Third Round

10. Bilal Powell, Louisville 5-10, 207
Productive once the Charlie Strong coaching staff took over, He’s a tall, upright runner who likes to battle for every yard and has the quickness and the speed to turn nothing into a big gain. He was the Cardinal offense at times and showed a want-to as the featured star of the attack. There’s nothing all that special about his game at an NFL level, but despite a rough start to his college career off the field, and a knee injury suffered late last year, there’s still tread on the tires and he should be productive in a rotation for the next several years.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round
 
- 2011 NFL Running Back Rankings - No. 11 to 30