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2012 NFL Combine - The Running Backs
Oregon RB LaMichael James
Oregon RB LaMichael James
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 28, 2012


Post-Combine quick looks at the running backs invited to Indy.

2012 NFL Post-Combine

RB Rankings - No. 11 to 25


- 2013 Prospects: Offense
- 2013 Prospects: Defense

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- 2012 CFN Pre-Combine RB Rankings, The Top Ten 
- 2012 CFN Pre-Combine Fullback Rankings 
 
11. Bernard Pierce, Temple (Jr.) 6-0, 218 Proj. 3
Durability is his biggest question mark, but for a workout he couldn’t have done more with a terrific 4.49 and a 36.5” vertical. He was big, fast, and moved well, and he showed explosiveness with a 10-3 broad jump.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Great blend of size and speed. He’s powerful between the tackles and fast around the end. … Ultra-productive, and not just against MAC teams. … Doesn’t go down. Needs to be gang-tackled and will fight through the line to get positive yards. … Moves well in traffic and can use his feet as well as his power to get through the wash.

Negatives: Not durable. Suffered a variety of injuries including concussion issues that’ll have to be monitored. Always dinged up. … Took a beating in his three years and might have a short shelf life. He could be 2011 DeMarco Murray and come up with a jaw-dropping game or two before breaking down. … Not a receiver. He’s not a three-down back.

12. Ronnie Hillman, SDSU (Jr.) 5-10, 200 Proj. 4
The 4.45 was what everyone wanted to see. He beefed up a little to get to 200 pounds, but it didn’t affect his athleticism with a blazing 40 time and a fantastic 37” vertical. He didn’t appear to be a smallish as originally thought.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Football fast. It doesn’t matter what he times in workouts, he cranks out big plays on the field. Has a natural feel for coming up with the big play. … Creates positive yards for his size. He’s a pinball and doesn’t always gets knocked over considering his size. … A fighter with the right attitude. He’ll do what’s needed to become better and he’ll do anything to be an NFL player. … Young. Only 20 years old, he could be just scratching the surface with a body that might not be done maturing.

Negatives: No power whatsoever. He’ll never run over anyone. … He fumbling issues. Had a few high profile drops. … Isn’t built to be a full-time NFL back. Looks like a slot receiver with a thin, narrow base. … Needs to grow as a receiver. His future could be as a third-down back.

13. Dan Herron, Ohio State 5-9, 213 Proj. 4
SLOWWWWWW in the 40. The problem with Herron is the lack of any one thing that stands out, and his 4.66 hurt his stock. However, he was zipping through the short drills showing he’s much, much quicker than fast.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: A good third down back option. Great hands and great on the move. Could be great when he gets the ball in open field. … Shifty. Cuts well on a dime and works well in traffic. … Busts his tail. He might have been suspended as part of the Tattoo Five, but he had the unquestioned respect of his team. There’s a reason the team showed more of a spark when he returned. … Might not be a No. 1 workhorse, but he could become an Ahmad Bradshaw-like piece of a puzzle.

Negatives: A role player. If he doesn’t find a niche, he’s a dime-a-dozen NFL back. Doesn’t have special rushing skills. … Not powerful. If he’s not using his quickness, he can’t get through defenders. … Doesn’t have the raw tools. He’s not all that big and he doesn’t have a third gear to become a home run hitter. … Banged up a bit too much. Before this year he always seemed to be dinged.

14. Bobby Rainey, WKU 5-7, 205 Proj. 5
NOT INVITED TO THE COMBINE Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Ultra-productive and shockingly durable. Took a licking game after game after game, and always popped up. … Was solid against everyone including Nebraska, Kentucky, and Indiana. Destroyed the Sun Belt. … Can be used as a receiver. Has great hands and is a terrific blocker for his size.

Negatives: Not big. He’s a small, compact back who won’t be able to run with much power at the next level. … Not athletic enough and not fast enough for his size. He doesn’t have elite shiftiness. … Old. Will turn 25 this season. … Not smooth. A far, far better football player than a workout warrior.

15. Robert Turbin, Utah State (Jr.) 5-9, 216 Proj. 5
While he labored around the short drills, he exploded for a 10-2 broad jump and came up with a good enough 4.5. The 28 reps on the bench tied for the best among the backs, and he looked the part of a featured runner. No one seems to care about the knee issues anymore.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Show no ill-effects from a torn ACL. It took a while to come back, but when he did he was as good as new. … A home run hitter. He might not have elite speed, but he’s always ripping off big plays. … Can catch. He could be a third-down back and doesn’t have to come off the field. … Could be a steal in the right system. He’d have star potential under Mike Shanahan.

Negatives: A system back. Had a lot of open spaces to run through and didn’t do much in the way of power running outside of short-yardage situations. … Not necessarily for offense. He’ll have to be used the right way. … Major durability problems with a knee injury that took a full year to get over and a foot issue that hit early on.

16. Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech 5-11, 219 Proj. 6
Way, WAY too slow. He wasn’t supposed to be a blazer, but the 4.71 was glacier slow. He looked more like a fullback through the short drills and the jumps than a feature back.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: An underappreciated back who carried an underappreciated Louisiana Tech team to a WAC title. … Good size and a nice base. He doesn’t get knocked around and doesn’t go down easily. … A terrific receiver. Could be a three-down back who works better on the outside. … Talent has never been an issue. A big recruit for Tennessee.

Negatives: Character issues. Didn’t hit the books and was suspended for Tech’s bowl game, and he took off from Tennessee after Lane Kiffin showed up. … Not as tough an inside runner than he needs to be for his size. A finesse back. … Has to show he wants to do all the little things to be great. He’ll have to show he can be productive even when he’s not the featured back.

17. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State 5-10, 219 Proj. 4
Known as a strong runner, the 23 reps on the bench weren’t shocking. Quicker than fast, he moved without a problem through the short drills to offset a mediocre 4.65. It was a decent workout, but he didn’t stand out in any way.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: A productive power back for his size. A pinball at times who doesn’t get wrapped up easily. … Came up with yards and production even with SEC defenses focusing all the attention on stopping him. … A leader. Came in from the JUCO ranks and got instant respect. Good character and willing to work.

Negatives: Doesn’t have NFL skills. He’s a good football player, but he’s not particularly fast enough or shifty enough to produce at a high level. … Not necessarily a receiver. He’ll work to improve, but he’s not a sure-thing on two downs. … Could be a nice fill-in back, but he doesn’t have it to be a great starter.

18. Chris Rainey, Florida 5-8, 176 Proj. 5
Disappointing. Considering he’s supposed to be a speed back, and some thought he’d be the fastest player at the combine, the 4.45 wasn’t quite good enough. However, for anyone who wants him to be a return man, a running back-best 6.5 in the cone and 3.93 – the only back under four – in the shuttle were amazing.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Fast, fast, fast. Could become a devastating return man and third down specialist. … Big-time upside. Might become a far, far better pro in the right system than a collegian. … One of the quickest backs in the draft. Should destroy the shuttle and short drills and should be dominant in workouts. … Could be turned into a wide receiver. He might be an ideal third wideout in a Wes Welker sort of role.

Negatives: A monster disappointment. Always seemed to leave talent on the field. … Major character issues and even more durability problems. He appeared to redeem himself after being arrested for allegedly threatening his girlfriend, but it’s still a red flag. Always banged up. … No power whatsoever. Will go down with one hit.

19. Davin Meggett, Maryland 5-8, 211 Proj. 5
He dropped about ten pounds, but it didn’t seem to matter too much with an okay 4.53 and not enough quickness through the short drills. His workout was fine, and he didn’t hurt himself, but it wasn’t a standout weekend.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Short and compact runner who bounces around well. … Phenomenally strong both in the weight room and on the field. Runs with surprising power and blows through tacklers. … A decent receiver who can be used in the slot if needed and could find a nice role as a third down back.

Negatives: Not all that smooth. He’s a darter, but he doesn’t really play like he looks. He’s a smallish power back instead of a quick cutter. … Isn’t a No. 1 back in any way. He’s a role player who’ll have to find a niche right away, but doesn’t have the speed to be a home run hitter on third downs. … Could stand to be a stronger blocker.

20. Bryce Brown, Kansas State (Jr.) 6-0, 220 Proj. FA
NOT INVITED TO THE COMBINE
Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: The pure talent is there. The 2009 top recruit was good enough to make noise about trying to turn pro right out of high school. … A blast of a burst out of the backfield. Explosive with the raw skills to make offensive coordinators want to take a flier on him. … No wear on the tires. The one positive about all his problems is that he’s brand new out of the box.

Negatives: Mega-character issues. Leaves scorched earth everywhere he goes. … He has to want to work for it off the field. Was given several opportunities and never took advantage of his chances. … Didn’t produce when given his chances. Didn’t show enough to live up to the hype.

21. Brandon Bolden, Ole Miss 5-11, 222 Proj. 6
He measured big with good hands, but it was an uneven workout. The 4.66 was slow, but he blasted out a 38” vertical and came close to ten feet on the broad jump. He wasn’t great around the shuttle, but he flew through the cone drill.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: A pounder who can bust through the line. Has decent power and the ability to beat up defenders. … The effort is there on the field. Always working for yards and isn’t afraid of getting dirty. Never afraid of contact. … Wants to play. He’s a baller who’ll block, catch, and do whatever is asked of him. … He’ll be a special teamer.

Negatives: Not elusive and doesn’t have any speed, and he’s not nearly as powerful as he needs to be. … Doesn’t do any one thing at a high level. There’s nothing NFL-worthy about his game. More of a football player than an athletic prospect. … Doesn’t have natural vision. Not patient enough.

22. Lance Dunbar, North Texas 5-8, 192 Proj. FA
WASN’T INVITED TO THE COMBINE
Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Ultra-productive despite being all the offense had. … Not fast, but quick. Darts in and out of the hole and gets around the corner in a hurry. … A great finisher and slippery around the goal line. … A workhorse for his size. Had the ball in his hands all the time and seemed to love getting all the work. … A great receiver.

Negatives: Took a beating. He’s not built to get blasted, but he was overused. He broke down with a variety of leg issues. … Not fast. At his size, it would be nice if he had better straight-line speed, but it’s not there. … Not a blocker in any way. He just doesn’t have the size to hit.

23. Edwin Baker, Michigan State (Jr.) 5-9, 204 Proj. 6
He got in great shape and is showed with a solid 4.53. However, he was a bit too slow through the short drills for a player of his type. It wasn’t a bad workout, but it wasn’t great.

Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: A pinball runner who bounces around tacklers. … Quick through the hole with a nice bounce. He sets up the run well and has the lateral quickness to get to the outside. … Extremely strong. He has the make-up and the drive to make himself into a big-time third-down blocker.

Negatives: Not a receiver. He might be a third-down back in pass protection, but not as a safety valve target. … Not a special runner. His workload diminished for a reason and was a complementary back over the second half of the season. … Not fast. He’s not going to run away from anyone.

24. Rodney Stewart, Colorado 5-6, 177 Proj. FA
WASN’T INVITED TO THE COMBINE
Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: A mighty mite runner who did what he could with almost no help whatsoever. Productive. Was always working and always fighting for yards. … A workhorse for his size. He was fed the ball over and over again and didn’t slow down. … Could carve out a nice career as a kick returner and third down back. Nice hands.

Negatives: A lot of tread worn off the tires. Doesn’t have the body to handle the ball as much as he did in college and not have a short shelf life. … Not all that fast. A darting back with good quickness, but without the straight line speed to bust off many big runs. … No power.

25. Michael Smith, Utah State 5-9, 206 Proj. FA
WASN’T INVITED TO THE COMBINE
Pre-Combine Analysis Positives: Fast, fast, fast, fast, FAST. Could be the fastest back in the draft. … Tough for his size. Built like a bowling ball with a nice base. … Good hands. Could be used as a third down back and a specialist. A creative offensive coordinator could find some interesting things to do with Smith’s speed and elusiveness.

Negatives: Didn’t exactly get a ton of work. Robert Turbin was the star Utah State running back. … Only ran 114 times in 2011 and wasn’t used as a kick returner. … Only caught 16 passes. Didn’t get much work in the WAC and now he’s trying to make a mark in the NFL.

- 2012 CFN Pre-Combine RB Rankings, The Top Ten 
- 2012 CFN Pre-Combine Fullback Rankings