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2012 NFL Draft Analysis - RBs No. 11-25
Tennessee RB Tauren Poole
Tennessee RB Tauren Poole
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 19, 2012


From a college football perspective, here's the analysis of all the top running back prospects.

2012 NFL Draft Position Rankings

RBs - No. 11-25


By Pete Fiutak

- 2012 NFL Running Back Rankings - Top Ten
 
11. Tauren Poole, Tennessee 5-10, 205
Arian Foster went to Tennessee, came out of nowhere, and became Arian Foster. Poole is a different back with a different look and style, but he was painfully underutilized in a miserable offense with no blocking to give him a break. Much, much better than his stats, he’s very quick, very strong, and has great character and leadership ability to be a perfect fit in a tandem. While he’s not huge and his straight line speed is mediocre, he could become a third down target and he could carve out a nice, long career doing a little of everything. There’s little power and he’ll get knocked around a bit, but he’s the type of back coaches love to have and he’ll be a good find by a good scouting director with a little bit of vision.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

12. Ronnie Hillman, SDSU (Soph.) 5-9, 200
Really small, but really, really fast and really productive, he’s a 4.4 speedster who can cut on a dime and plays fast on the field. Considering he’s not all that big, he’s a strong runner who pinballs his way through a defense and will fight for a yard when needed. A workhorse, he doesn’t take a ton of clean shots and he’s always seemingly able to protect his body; he realizes he’s not built like Brandon Jacobs. Very young, he has a long shelf-life and he could become a great third down back and a change-of-pace runner in the right tandem. There are fumbling problems and he has to learn how to be more of a receiver, but he’s an elite athlete with no bust potential. Someone will be jacked up to get him in the middle of the draft.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

13. Bernard Pierce, Temple (Jr.) 6-0, 218
With great size and tremendous speed, checking in around the mid-4.4s, he has the tools and the athleticism to be an intriguing prospect. Already good-sized for an NFL back, he could get up to 230 without a problem and could define himself as a between-the-tackles workhorse – at least for a little while. He took a beating at Temple and can’t be counted on week-in-and-week-out; he’ll always, always be on the injury report and has to be closely monitored after concussion problems. Even with the concerns and with his lack of receiving skills, the potential is there to be a flash of lightning for a stretch. He could be this year’s DeMarco Murray with one or two monster games before spending time in a warm-up suit. A lot of the tools are there, but there are enough red flags to let someone else take a chance.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

14. Edwin Baker, Michigan State (Jr.) 5-8, 204
Terrific after doing the work needed to prepare himself for offseason workouts, coming up with a 4.47, he showed off the wheels to go along with the strength. Lineman strong, he’s bounces off tacklers and isn’t afraid to run through them if needed, but he’s at his best when he’s able to zip through a hole by making one cut and flying. He’ll block, he’ll do what’s needed to make something happen, and he could be an ultra-productive part of a tandem in the right offense. However, he’s not a great receiver, he’s not ultra-quick in workouts, and he’s not an elite runner. His workload was diminished over the second half of last year and he turned out to be just a complementary back instead of a featured star.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

15. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State 5-10, 219
Productive at an SEC level, even with defenses keying on him, he packs a nice punch to go along with the ability to bounce off tacklers and get the extra yards. A strong runner, he showed at the Combine that he had the raw strength with 23 reps, and he was great through the short drills, but he was slow with a mediocre 4.65 in the 40. A good prospect to work in a tandem, he can be physical and bang away for a few drives before giving way to the speedier backs. A good leader with great character he’ll do whatever a coaching staff wants, but he doesn’t have NFL skills. He’s a good football player, but there’s nothing about his game to make him a standout. While he could be a nice fill-in back, he doesn’t have it to be a great starter.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

16. Chris Rainey, Florida 5-8, 180
With extreme speed and NFL offensive coordinator should be able to do more with Rainey than several Florida coaches could. The quickest back at the Combine, he destroyed the short drills and blazed a sub-4.4 in a pro day workout showing off why he could be an elite return man. While he’s a running back, he can easily be converted into a third down specialist or a receiver with the hands and the skills to make big things happen whenever he has a chance. But can he actually play? A mega-disappointment as a Gator considering his skills and his prep hype, there was always something missing from his game. There was always an injury of some sort and the production was merely average, but his rare tools could make him a great mid-round value pick.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

17. Dan Herron, Ohio State 5-9, 213
What is he going to do in the NFL? He’s way too slow with no straight line speed, but he’s extremely quick and cuts well with nice shiftiness through the hole. A great worker and a leader, he’ll do whatever a coaching staff wants and he could make a team by doing all the little things right. The problem is that he has to find a niche immediately or he’ll be an extremely easy cut. He’s an okay runner, an okay receiver, and an okay athlete, but the entire package doesn’t add up to anything more than a dime-a-dozen pro back. He has the right attitude and he was a standout on a team that was surprisingly awful offensively without him, but he just doesn’t have any special pro skills.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

18. Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech 5-11, 219
A much better football player than a workout warrior, he killed his draft stock with a brutal 4.71 at the Combine and a not-much-better 4.69 in drills. With his lack of speed and his size he looks like a fullback and needs to carve out a niche as a power runner right away. Always productive, he was good enough to be a top recruit at Tennessee and was terrific for Louisiana Tech, and he has the hands to catch the ball on third downs, but again, the work might come as a fullback if he can somehow toughen up his overall style. He’ll have to humble up a bit and realize he won’t be a feature back, and he’ll have to do all the dirty work to make a roster. He simply doesn’t have the raw tools to make a roster without showing something special in some way early in a camp.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

19. Michael Smith, Utah State 5-9, 206
A bolt of lightning, he’s a low 4.3 runner with blazing wheels in the open field. While he’s small, he has a nice base and he’s built like a sprinter. He won’t be an NFL runner, but he could become a whale of a specialist if he hooks up with a creative offensive coordinator who finds a way to utilize the speed and quickness in space. That means Smith should become a receiver over time and he has to find a role as a third down receiver, even though he only caught 16 career passes. Yes, he can fly, but he doesn’t have the pure pro running skills needed to show off his talents without a lot of help.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

20. Bryce Brown, Kansas State (Soph.) 6-0, 220
The late rounds of a draft are almost always worthless, so that’s when you swing for the fences. Brown’s career so far has been an all-timer of a disappointment after being considered by many to be the No. 1 overall high school prospect in 2009. He was okay early at Tennessee, left, and ended up at Kansas State before getting booted for not wanting to do the work. The size is great, the speed is good enough, and he’s a natural runner who has special abilities and visions. After being given multiple opportunities he’ll be given one chance and one chance only, and he has to take advantage. There’s enough talent to warrant a throwaway late draft pick just to see if there’s anything to work with – his tank is full after doing almost nothing in college – but he can be quickly and easily cut if he doesn’t show a spark out of the box.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

21. Bobby Rainey, WKU 5-7, 205
It’ll take a lot of vision from a coaching staff, but Rainey could turn out to be a reliable and tough runner who can run well in any attack. While he’s small and compact, he was able to handle a huge workload at WKU and never seemed to wear down. Every defense keyed on him and he still produced at a high level even against Nebraska, Kentucky and Indiana. While he’s not all that fast and he doesn’t have elite quickness or athleticism for his size, he’s a good runner who’ll let it all hang out for a short career. 25 this year, he’ll play with a sense of urgency. To be a big part of an offense, though, he’ll have to prove he can be more of a receiver.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

22. Davin Meggett, Maryland 5-8, 211
Very short and very compact, he’s a bowling ball who can bowl through the line and bounce around. Extremely strong, he’ll blow through tacklers and he’ll challenge anyone through the line and can get through the second level with a punch. Not a speed back, he’s not slow but he’s hardly a blazer and isn’t going to run away from anyone. There’s nothing about his game that screams NFL, and he doesn’t have good enough receiving skills to be a consistent third down back, but he’ll get a look in a camp as a possible tough runner in a rotation.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

23. Brandon Bolden, Ole Miss 5-11, 222
He has good size and an excellent frame with the bulk to look like a tough NFL runner, but he doesn’t have much in the way of speed and he’s not an athlete. Slow, he’s close to being a 4.7 runner and he was disastrous in some of the short drills. However, in a strange twist he was explosive in the jumping drills. While the raw skills are puzzling, he’s a player who’ll fight for the hard yards and could do more with a stronger line to work behind. A baller, he’ll try to take the reins of an offense if given a shot. However, he’ll have to be a special teamer right away and he’ll have to fight to make a roster.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

24. Rodney Stewart, Colorado 5-7, 179
Really small but really productive, he wasn’t originally supposed to be a star of the Buff attack but he turned out to be the centerpiece of the offense. Always working and always fighting for yards, he’s quick, but he’s also a baller. No, he doesn’t have any power, but he isn’t a finesse back. While he might be a decent part of a rotation, he’ll need to shine as a kick returner or a possible third down back to make a team. There’s a lot of tread worn off the tires and he doesn’t have the body type to handle taking any sort of a beating. There’s enough to give him a chance, but he’ll have to stand out right away in a camp.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

25. Darrell Scott, USF (Jr.) 6-0, 220
A mega-disappointment after being hailed as one of the nation’s top recruits in 2008, he made big headlines by spurning Texas for Colorado, but he didn’t pan out. While he was okay after transferring to South Florida, he was just okay. With NFL size and good quickness and raw skills, there’s the potential to develop into a nice part of a rotation, but he’s not necessarily a pounder for his bulk and he has never seemed to want to do all the hard work needed to be special. He can’t create his own space and he’ll need help, but if the light goes on there’s enough talent to hope for a good transformation in production.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

- 2012 NFL Running Back Rankings - Top Ten