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2009 NFL Draft - Ranking The Running Backs

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 22, 2009


The 2009 NFL Draft is almost here. From a college football perspective, here's the CFN ranking of the top 25 running back prospects, Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells, and LeSean McCoy, along with the most overrated and underrated prospects and the deepest sleeper.

2009 NFL Draft Position Rankings

The Running Backs


2009 NFL Draft Post-Workout Rankings

Quarterbacks
| Running Backs | Fullbacks | Receivers | Tight Ends
Centers | Guards | Off. Tackles | Def. Ends | Def. Tackles
Inside LBs | Outside LBs | Cornerbacks | Safeties


By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 NFL Prospect Rankings
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers
Tight Ends | Off. Tackles
| Off. Guards | Centers
Defensive Ends
| Defensive Tackles | Inside LBs
Outside LBs | Safeties
| Cornerbacks

We’ve been watching these players from the start and have analyzed them as collegians for the last few years. Talk about hip snap and bubble butts all you want, but the question is this … can the guy play? Trying to project on to the next level, while taking into account everything that happened on the field during their college careers, here’s the CFN ranking and analysis of all the top pro prospects.

THE FRANCHISE

1. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia 5-10, 217 (Jr.)
Moreno just has the look of a franchise back. He’s not the fastest back around, but he has enough functional speed to bust off big runs when he gets a little room. He’s not the biggest runner, but there’s no questioning his power or his toughness. There might not be any one thing he does better than anyone else at an NFL leve

The Class Is ... Good. There might not be the Darren McFadden-like prospect, but Knowshon Moreno and Beanie Wells lead a slew of talented starting prospects. In today’s day and age of RB rotations, there are several great backs who’ll fit various systems.

The Best Value Pick Will Be ... Rashad Jennings, Liberty

Most Underrated ... Andre Brown, NC State

Most Overrated ... Glen Coffee, Alabama

The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is ..  Bernard Scott, Abilene Christian

FULLBACKS

1. Tony Fiammetta, Syracuse
Extremely athletic, he’s a big hitting, 245-pound power blocker who’ll blast open holes. While he’s not much of a receiver and won’t get any carries, he’ll hit everything in sight.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

2. Quinn Johnson, LSU
The former linebacker is a big, physical blocker who’ll do whatever is needed. Forget about running the ball and he’ll have to work to be a receiver, but he’s mega-strong.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

3. Brennan Southerland, Georgia  
A very good blocker, he’s one of the best running fullbacks in the draft with the potential to be fantastic on the goal line. He’s not a great athlete.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

4. Eric Kettani, Navy
5. Brock Bolen, Louisville
6. Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M
7. Conredge Collins, Pitt
8. Brian Toal, Boston College
9. David Johnson, Arkansas State
10. Jason Cook, Ole Miss

Rankings of the 2010 Top Prospects
- Possible 1st Rounders
- Possible 2nd Rounders
- Possible 3rd Rounders
- Possible 4th Rounders
- Possible 5th Rounders
- Possible 6th Rounders
- Possible 7th Rounders & Free Agents
- Quarterbacks

- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Tackles 
- Offensive Guards
- Centers
- Defensive Ends
- Defensive Tackles 
- Outside LBs
- Inside LBs
- Safeties
- Cornerbacks
- Punters & Kickers 

l, but he does everything well including block, catch, run with patience and hold on to the ball. Ultra-competitive, he’ll do everything he can to become a big-time back and he’ll be the type who wants the ball in his hands in every situation. The only question mark will be durability for his size. Is he a slower Clinton Portis with the ability to handle the pounding, or will he be Cadillac Williams and do big things before getting banged up? He’s worth it. He’ll carry an offense for a few years.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Chris Wells, Ohio State 6-1, 235 (Jr.)
Based on pure talent, size, speed, and skills, Beanie’s the best back in the draft. However, he has major durability questions and despite showing good character and saying all the right things, there’s a question mark about how much he really wants to be a superstar. Is he going to be the run-through-a-brick-wall type like Knowshon Moreno? He’s such a rare talent that he’s worth all the risks. It’s not a stretch to say that from day one only Adrian Peterson will have the better combination of size and home run hitting ability. When Beanie’s on, he’ll barrel over everything in his path and will take over games. But when he’s not into the big game, he won’t fight for the hard yards and could disappear at times. The other problem is his blocking ability … there isn’t much. He has to be developed as a receiver and needs to prove he wants to hit someone, but if he doesn’t have to be a No. 1 back who carries the entire workload, he should be terrific.
CFN Projection: First Round

3.
LeSean McCoy, Pitt 5-11, 200 (Soph.)
“Shady” will be the ideal back for anyone with another back on the roster with some power. McCoy is a quick back who can seamlessly slide in and out of the hole, can cut on a dime, and proved he can be used as a workhorse, a receiver, and do everything needed to help out an offense. While he can cut in a Houston Texan-like, zone-blocking offense like Steve Slaton, he doesn’t have the same blazing burst that Slaton and other smaller backs have at the next level. While he won’t block anyone and he’s too small to not get help from a second runner in a rotation, he’s a natural producer who’ll make a big splash and be a very, very good pro for a long time.
CFN Projection: First Round

4.
Shonn Greene, Iowa 5-11, 230 (Jr.)
Greene didn’t completely come from out of nowhere, but no one saw a Doak Walker season coming. No one. Forgotten now, Greene was barely the sure-thing starter coming out of spring ball last year with other backs also getting looks. While he’s not fast, he’s extremely strong, bounces off tacklers when he’s trying for a hard yard, and he doesn’t have a lot of tread on the tires considering he’s only been the man for a year. He’ll have to show early on in camp that he can run strong every play and he has to become more of a receiver, but with his size, his consistency, and with his upside as a 25-carry back, he’s a good prospect with more boom than bust.
CFN Projection: Third Round

5.
Donald Brown, Connecticut 5-10, 210 (Jr.)
The ultra-productive Brown led the nation in rushing last season and has quickly grown into a hot prospect. While he’s not all that huge, and is a bit too thin, he’s ridiculously strong for his size and is fantastic at making the quick cut through the hole, any hole. He’s fast, but he doesn’t have breathtaking wheels like a Chris Johnson. While he might not built to be a workhorse at the next level and he might not do anything that stands out from the other top prospects, he’s a very good, very reliable runner who isn’t going to be for anyone. If he’s on the right team, particularly one that needs a one-cut runner and doesn’t need a whole bunch of power on a consistent basis, he could become a star.
CFN Projection: Second Round

POTENTIAL NFL STARTERS

6.
Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon 5-9, 210
Johnson took over the spotlight, at least part of it, when Jonathan Stewart took off early for the NFL and showed why he could be every bit as good a pro. Durability is his problem with a torn ACL and a shoulder problem in the last two years, but he was terrific when he was on the field. He’s a short, compact runner who is like a pinball when he works inside and is good at keeping his legs moving on the outside. He’ll get on the move and get six yards without looking like he wasn’t doing much to get there. While he didn’t time well, he plays fast and can crank out yards in big chunks. Pac 10 defenders hated to try to track him down. Even with all of his upside, he’s not big enough to be an every down runner and has huge durability concerns.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

7.
Javon Ringer, Michigan State 5-9, 205
There were major questions about his durability and potential going into last year, and then he handle the ball a ridiculous 418 times. Not all that big, he made himself strong enough to handle the load by living in the weight room. Very tough, very competitive, and a good character prospect, he’ll do whatever a team asks of him and he won’t pout if he gets pigeonholed into a specialist role from time to time. It would be nice if he was faster considering his lack of size, but he does enough in short bursts to keep the chains moving. Not a creative runner, he’ll need a good line and a good scheme to be productive, but even with all the negatives, he’s the type of player every coach wants.
CFN Projection: Third Round

8.
Andre Brown, NC State 6-0, 225
One of the year’s biggest boom-or-bust prospects, Brown is big, very fast, and has a high ceiling that could make him a major steal depending on where he goes. A prototype, he’s a rock phenomenal weight room and functional strength, and the type of sub-4.5 burst that could lead to some huge games. However, he has durability concerns and hasn’t been consistent. He was good at NC State, but he wasn’t great considering all his talent and skills. While he was on everyone’s radar because of his size-speed ratio, he didn’t become a big-time prospect until the post-season workouts and all-star games. Considering all he can bring, including good blocking skills, he has steal-of-the-draft potential.
CFN Projection: Third Round

9.
James Davis, Clemson 5-11, 210
In today’s day and age of split carries and multiple backs in a rotation, Davis fits. He always shared the workload at Clemson and still thrived, for the most part, showing good power for his size and slipperiness in close range that made him good around the goal line. It takes a big tackle to bring him down; he doesn’t go down without a fight. He’s not a speedster, isn’t going to make too many NFL defenders miss, and needs work as both a receiver and a blocker. While he’s not going to be anyone’s No. 1 back, he could be a devastating No. 2.
CFN Projection:
Fourth Round

BEST OF THE REST

10.
Cedric Peerman, Virginia 5-10, 220
The are a few teams that will have him as a must-have pickup from the fourth round on, and more than a few will be ticked off when he’s off the board. While not a top 100 talent, he’s a tough, smart player who’ll do anything a coaching staff asks hm. He’s not all that quick for his size and he doesn’t do anything at an elite level, he does a little of everything well with the toughness to be a good ten-carry back who can step in and produce a game or two here and there. Early on he’ll be a specialist and a special teamer, but he could be the surprise of the camp and a coaching favorite.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

11.
Arian Foster, Tennessee 6-1, 225
With an interesting combination of speed, size, and proven production, Foster is a good runner who can run, catch, and block equally well. However, he has to show he can bring it game in and game out. Consistency was a major problem, even though he became one of the most productive runners in the history of Tennessee. He’ll look great at times and will make scouts wonder why he’s not being thought of as a first day prospect, and then will come the devastating fumble. There’s too many positive traits to not be a tantalizing pick, but the flake factor could be too much to keep him from reaching his potential.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

12.
Mike Goodson, Texas A&M 5-11, 200 (Jr.)
A huge disappointment considering he was the type of superstar recruit who was good enough to carry the entire A&M team, Goodson wasn’t given enough work and wasn’t used quite right by two coaching staffs. Super-fast, he’s a burst back who’ll blow through a hole and rip off major yards in chunks as both a runner and a receiver. Get him on the outside in space and he’ll be gone. However, forget about any power and any inside production. He needs to hit the weight room hard and he’ll need to endear himself to the team early on. The speed alone makes him an intriguing prospect, but he doesn’t do nearly enough well, outside of use his wheels on the outside, to make him the type of back to revolve a running game around. He’ll likely end up making his money as a returner, but he could grow into a star if he can become a good receiver and grow into a third down back.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

13. Kory Sheets, Purdue  5-11, 205
Sheets is an ultra-confident player who has the speed and the potential to be a third down back, but he’s going to have to work for it. Scouts will love his ability to cut on a dime and be gone in a flash, but he’s not tough enough to be an every down back at any time. Attitude could be a problem; he thinks he’s better than he is, and there are major red flags about his work ethic. Despite the concerns, his speed and quickness are good enough to be a prospect worth taking a chance on. If he’s able to prove he’s a team-first guy and is willing to show in day one of mini-camp that he’s willing to get his nose dirty, he could be a steal.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

14. Rashad Jennings, Liberty 6-1, 235
The former Pitt Panther is one of the best bruisers in the draft and could be the best inside power runner available. He’s not going to break off any big runs and there’s not going to be anything fancy about what he does, but he could become a closer late in games and a goal line specialist. While his production might have come at Liberty, he didn’t wear down and was a great fighter game in and game out. He’s not going to be a feature-back, but he could be a sledgehammer of a No. 2 option with a little bit of refining. While he looks like a fullback right out of central casting off the field, he’s not exactly fluid on it.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

15. Glen Coffee, Alabama 6-0, 205
Here’s the problem … what does he do at an NFL level? There’s nothing shifty about him, at least for the pros, with average quickness and speed. He only be used as a between-the-tackles power runner, but he’s not a blaster. While he’s a tough fighter with excellent strength and toughness, he’s just not big enough to be used on a regular basis to move the pile. If he has a good line in front of him he could be the type of back who shocks the world for a game or two when thrown into the fire, but he’s not anything more than a complementary back for a team that already has a No. 1 option. Even so, he appears to be one of the hotter prospects among the mid-level backs and might be overdrafted.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

16. Devin Moore, Wyoming 5-9, 185
Moore wasn’t exactly on the radar, and then he showed off tremendous speed in off-season workouts to open up the possibilities. A smallish scatback, the possibilities are endless for an offensive coordinator with any sort of creativity since Moore will do anything needed to help the team. A true leader, he was named the team-captain twice and is as reliable and durable as they come. His lack of size hasn’t been a problem as far as holding up, but he’s not built to be an every down back. Not a strong runner, he’ll only be effective outside the tackles and as a special teamer, but he could become a killer third down back and kick returner.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

17. Gartrell Johnson, Colorado State 5-10, 220
A power back who plays faster than he times, he’ll pound away and will beat up defenders who dare to tackle him. He has thighs the size of a small country and they’re always pounding away. A great leader with high character, he won’t mope if he has a reduced role and is only a short yardage specialist. While he won’t be a star, he simply doesn’t have the speed, he could be a closer on late drives. He’s the last back a tired defense will want to face.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

18. Marlon Lucky, Nebraska 5-11, 215
A superstar prospect out of high school, he never lived up to his immense promise even though he cranked out a relatively unappreciated career. He runs with good power when he has a good blocker in front of him and he occasionally runs with power. His money will be made as a receiver catching 75 passes in 2007. A natural when the ball is in the air, he’s good at making plays on the move and could be solid in a mid-range passing offense. He doesn’t have NFL running skills and will make it, or not, based on his versatility and his hands. Durability is a big problem and he’s not the most consistent blocker.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

19. Ian Johnson, Boise State 5-10, 210
Ultra-productive early in his career, he turned into one of the WAC’s biggest stars and a household name after his Fiesta Bowl performance against Oklahoma both on and off the field. But he got banged up, couldn’t stay on the field, and was a cog in the system as a senior. Considered a good prospect but not fast enough to see time in the NFL, he changed all of that by running a blazing 4.43 at the Combine. It’ll be vital to prove early on that he has NFL running ability, he didn’t always show it over his final two years in Boise, and he’ll have to create a role for himself. He won’t be anyone’s idea of a No. 1 back.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

20. Javarris Williams, Tennessee State  5-10, 225
Boobie” is a true power runner with both weight room and functional strength. While he’s not going to blaze by anyone, he has surprising speed once he gets into the open and can burst through the hole when he has the opening. He’ll have a role as a big runner, but he could end up sticking on a roster because of his blocking ability. Forget about getting to the outside and he’s not laterally quick, but he could become a goal line, short yardage runner.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

21. P.J. Hill, Wisconsin 5-11, 220 (Jr.)
Ultra-productive when he was healthy, Hill was a workhorse who carried the Badger offense at times. But he was rarely healthy. While he’s tough, will play through pain, and will always want the ball, like all Wisconsin star runners he simply took too much of a pounding. The knock on him was that he was too heavy, but he did a good job of cutting out some weight in a hurry this off-season and was quicker in workouts. Even though he might have potential to become a No. 2 power back, his durability and fumbling problems makes him a marginal prospect.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

22. Marcus Thigpen, Indiana 6-0, 200
You can’t coach speed. The Indiana track star was the ultimate home run hitter for the football team. However, he didn’t do much else outside of breaking off the big run here and there. He’s never going to be a regular running back, but he could become a devastating third down specialist and should be a game-changing kick returner. He’s all flash from his wardrobe to his style to his explosiveness, but forget about giving him the ball more than ten times a game.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

23. Kahlil Bell, UCLA 5-11, 215
While he has the size, decent speed, and showed a few flashes of becoming something special at UCLA, he never put it all together. Not exactly beloved early in his career, he matured by the time he was a senior but couldn’t stay on the field. Health issues have been a problem as he was never the same back after tearing his ACL. There’s no way he could ever be an every down back, but he could be productive in bursts if all he has to do is make one cut and go.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

24. Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern 5-8, 210
Can he stay on the field? A breakout performer as a freshman, he had problems staying healthy and never quite blew up into the superstar he appeared he was destined to become. Even so, he was a good all-around runner for the Wildcats who catches the ball naturally enough to be a nice third down back for someone willing to use him sparingly. Along with the durability issues, he’s just not fast enough for his size. He’ll fight for yards and he’ll give a maximum effort, but he will have to carve out a niche early on and he’ll have to show a little bit of pop to stick on a roster.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

25. Aaron Brown, TCU 6-0, 195
Always a tease, Brown showed just enough explosiveness and production to make Horned Frog fans think he could be a special star who could carry the offense, but he couldn’t stay healthy with a variety of leg injuries. While he’s not a blazer, he has good speed and quickness with a shifty running style that could make him a good complementary back. He’s not going to bring any power and he can’t carry the ball on a regular basis, but he was strong in off-season workouts and has great upside with the right coaching.
CFN Projection: Seventh Round

ON THE RADAR


26. Bernard Scott, Abilene Christian
27. Branden Ore, Virginia Tech
28. Antone Smith, Florida State
29. Chris Ogbonnaya, Texas
30. Anthony Kimble, Stanford
31. Keegan Herring, Arizona State
32. Mike Davis, South Carolina
33. Tony Dixon, Kentucky
34. Brad Lester, Auburn
35. Frank Summers, UNLV
36. Rodney Ferguson, New Mexico
37. Wynel Seldon, Wyoming
38. Courtney Tennial, Tulsa
39. Shun White, Navy
40. Maurice Wells, Ohio State