April 8, 2012

2012 - Running Back Prospects

Today's list of prospects are from the Running back position. This post has been broken down into 3 sections/groups. They are Small backs (the speedsters) and Workhorses (the 3 down guys). The other group is made up of Big Backs (the bruisers) and full backs as it is hard to distinguish the two. The players have been noted with what type they are, whether that is FB or HB/FB.

I have not included Trent Richardson for the simple reason he won't be available at 25#. If he is there at 25# the Broncos will pick him without hesitation. After scouting the Defensive Tackles it became clear to me how good of a player Richardson is. He should go top 10 at the latest, he is a superb talent.

Scouting the Running backs:
It is hard to define what type of prototypical body shape a running back should have. Two key areas for me are, is the player thick in the legs and has a solid torso. Though not as tall as I would like at 5-9 Richardson has a compact muscular frame which is perfect for a running back. For workhorse backs they need to be in that 220 pound range, height really isn't a factor here unless he is like 6-3+. The numbers are really important at the running back position. For the 40 yard dash a running back needs to run in the 4.4s especially if he is a smaller guy. If he is a bigger back and runs in the 4.5s that is OK. If you run in the 4.6s (like Knowshon did) I think you should be rethinking your profession. As is always the case the magic number for the 3 Cone Drill is 7 secs. A running back NEEDS to get under 7 in this drill. That shows the ability to move in space and to sync and turn with your hips. You want to see huge numbers in the Vertical and Broad jump. Both drills are based on leg power and as a running back that is the most important part of your body. The running back must show that he has the explosion and power in his legs to be a force at the next level. Arm Length is not important at this position but Hand Size is. The bigger a running backs hands the easier it is to hold onto the ball. If a running back has small hands you may need to rethink picking him.

On tape it depends on what type of back you are looking at. For the small guys you want to see them get to the edge quickly. What they do in space, can they make a guy miss. Can they out run the secondary. Can they catch out of the back field. For a workhorse you want to see all this but also can he stay in block. Can he run between the tackles and make it to the second level. Does he move the pile. Does he hit that hole hard or dances around. Is he afraid of contact or does he initiate it. When looking at the bigger backs you are watching for can they block, hit the hole, move the chains and get into the endzone when facing the goal line.

Small Backs

David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Height: 5-10. Weight: 206.
40 Time: 4.40. Official 4.49 secs
3 Cone Drill: 7.09 sec
20 YD Shuttle: 4.12 sec
60 YD Shuttle: 11.59 sec
Vertical: 41 Broad: 11-0. 132 inch
Arm Length: 30 1/4 inch
Hand Size: 9 3/8 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.

Wilson is an electrifying runner who opted to come out early after an incredible junior year where he was named ACC Player of the Year. He truly runs with his own style, and it's obvious that he has love for the game. He was one of very few limited prospects who played for Team USA prior to enrolling in college, dominating the tournament and displaying elite athletic ability. He is a high risk-high reward player who loves to reverse field on the entire defense. He is a decorated track star who shows obvious explosion every time he touches the ball.

A one-year starter, David Wilson was a four-star running back recruit out of high school, choosing in-state Virginia Tech over Clemson, North Carolina and several other East Coast schools.

He saw action as a true freshman backup in 2009 (13 gp/0 st), finishing with 334 yds on 59 carries (5.7) and 4 TDs, adding a 19.1 avg on kickoff returns. Wilson was part of a crowded backfield in 2010, sharing time with Darren Evans and Ryan Williams (13 gp/0 st), recording 619 yds on 113 rushes (5.5) and 5 TDs, adding two kickoff return TDs.

With Evans and Williams leaving for the NFL, Wilson became the full-time starter in 2011 as a junior, finishing with a conference-best 1,709 yds (single season school record) on 290 carries (5.9) and 9 TDs, adding 21 catches for 126 yds and 1 TD. He earned several accolades, including First Team All-ACC, Second Team All-American and conference Player of the Year honors. After the season, he decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Wilson is extremely explosive and quick-twitched off the snap. He can accelerate to top speed quickly and neutralizes the negative effects of his small frame by lowering his pad level into hits. He is so explosive and generates such movement with his leg drive that he is capable of running over linebackers but prefers to use his agility to make guys miss in space. Wilson is just as electric working as a receiver out of the backfield or in the slot, and its likely he could be used in a variety of alignments early on in his NFL career.

Wilson relied heavily on his athletic ability in college and runs with a very unconventional style that could get him in trouble at the next level against top athletes. He will allow his pad level to get high when changing directions downfield, and he will get caught off guard with that style at the next level. He isn't content enough with a 2-to-3-yard gain and will revert cross-field to try and make a play out of nothing, another habit that simply won't end well in most cases in the NFL. He needs to be more patient to let the plays and blocks come to him and play within a scheme, rather than try to make everything happen on his own each time he gets the ball.

Inside: Tough guy to bring down and almost always gets positive yardage when he lowers his pads and gets north/south. Still very raw as an inside runner, running too indecisive and struggling to find running room at the LOS, wavers and hesitates too much when the clear opening isn't there and ends up going east/west for a loss. Lacks natural instincts with questionable vision and awareness to feel blocks and press the hole. Will slow down prior to contact and leave yardage on the field.

Outside: A smooth, explosive athlete who accelerates quickly downfield with a rare extra gear that he can reach in a hurry, can really turn on the jets. Shows the flexibility and balance to bend and stay on his feet while avoiding tackles. He has a strong plant foot with some shiftiness to catch defenders off balance and routinely gets to the second level, squirmy and tough.

Breaking tackles: Has a strong, compact build with good muscle mass on his body, generates power from his frame. He is physical with the strength to run through contact, keeping his legs churning and carrying defenders. Won't go down easy and picks up a lot of yardage after initial contact.

Blocking: Limited experience as a pass protector and needs extensive work on his technique.

Receiving: Has only average ballskills out of the backfield and wasn't used a lot as a receiver in college. At his best on bubble screens to get him on the outside with a head of steam.

Intangibles: Runs at full speed on every play with full effort and determination, high energy player and doesn't cheat himself. Has suspect ball security with several fumbles over his career, holding the ball too loose. Has some coachability issues, openly questioning the play-calling at times, butted heads with the coaching staff more than a few times for not enough carries. Has only one season as the full-time starter. Participated in both football and track for his first two seasons at Virginia Tech and finished second in the ACC in the triple jump in 2010, qualifying for Nationals. Offers value on special teams as kick returner, tallying 59 returns for 1,285 (21.8) and 2 TDs over his career. Extremely productive as the full-time starter in 2011, setting several school records including single season rush yds (1,709) and consecutive games with 100+ rush yds (7), 10 total 100+ rushing yd performances in 2011 (ties ACC record).

Wilson is an explosive player with impressive quickness, agility and body strength, runs fast and strong with the rare ability to either make guys miss or run through them. He accelerates in a flash with plus speed, but only uses it in the open field and clear daylight, way too patient between the hashmarks and much more comfortable bouncing outside and working in space.

Wilson, who also adds value as a return man, has starting potential in the NFL with a lot of raw ability, but needs to improve his instincts ? really question his feel running between the tackles which will limit his effectiveness at the next level. He will test very well in pre-draft workouts and has enough natural talent to warrant a top-50 pick, but some immaturity and ball security concerns could hurt his long-term upside.

Wilson had a massive Combine performance. Not only did he have a fast 40, and lead the running backs in the vertical and broad jumps, but Wilson was excellent in the pass-receiving drills. He looked like a natural receiver and showed the ability to be a three-down back in the NFL. Based off that strong showing, Wilson moved into the second-rated running back spot, and he has the potential to sneak into the first round.

This year, his first season as a starter, Wilson was the ACC Player of the Year. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry and totaled 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. Wilson caught 22 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown too. In 2010, as a backup, he ran for 619 yards and five scores. Wilson uses speed and explosiveness to rip off some long runs. He is a shifty runner with nice moves to avoid tacklers and pick up extra yards. In the NFL, Wilson will need to work on his ball security as he had a lot of fumbles in 2011.

Virginia Tech running back David Wilson said Thursday at his pro day that he was not fully healthy at the NFL combine two weeks ago, though he would not disclose what was ailing him. "All the coaches and doctors knew what was wrong with me at the combine," Wilson said after the Hokies' pro day in front of scouts from about 25 NFL teams. "It was between us." Wilson was one of about 20 former Tech players who worked out at the field house on Thursday during the session, which was closed to the media. That group also included cornerback Jayron Hosley and former Tech defensive back Eric Green, who is trying to get back into the NFL after stints with the Dolphins and Cardinals. But Wilson was the top prospect working out Thursday. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder said scouts clocked him running the 40-yard dash at between 4.35 and 4.4 seconds, an improvement over his showing at the combine in Indianapolis. "They all said they liked what they saw," said Wilson, who has been working out in Florida to improve his NFL stock. Many experts project Wilson, who had meetings with Cleveland and Tampa Bay set up going into pro day, will be the second running back drafted this year after Alabama's Trent Richardson. "All the projections and stuff are just what people think," Wilson said. "These football gurus think they know, but you never know."

My Opinion: I have him here in the small category because he is only 206 pounds, the work horse guys I think need to be up around 220 to take the pounding. It has been noted that he is immature and a bit of a diva and that he has ball security issues. He is a good runner and has soft hands. Very nice footwork and cuts, turns really well. He carries the 200 pounds well and has very thick legs. He can move the pile and that is a but surprising for a guy of his size. His thighs = massive. He can make a guy miss and is very physical, not shy of punishment. He needs to protect the ball better and cover it with two hands when running between the tackles. He could hit the hole with more power and explosion. Is not impressive in the redzone. He dances around looking for the big gain more than he should, needs to learn to take what is given. He is deceptively fast, he doesn't look like he is running that quick.

When I read Immature and Ball security issues I generally walk away. Those are too big flags for me but if you ignore those Wilson is a talent. Not first round talent but early second definitely. Since he is the second back that will be picked he will be over drafted I think. I doubt the Broncos go with Wilson at this end of the first.

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Height: 5-8. Weight: 194.
40 Time: 4.37. Official: 4.45 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.60
3 Cone Drill: 6.88 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 4.12 secs
Bench: 15 reps.
Vertical: 35. Broad: 10-3. 123 inchs
Arm Length: 30 1/4 inchs
Hand Size: 9 inchs.
Projected Round (2012): 3.

James had a decorated career at Oregon and started all but two games after redshirting in 2007. An invitee to the Heisman Trophy presentation the past two years, James has been the most electric and productive player on a very impressive Oregon offense. He was an ideal fit for the unique zone blocking scheme run by Chip Kelly in Eugene and has shown many traits that are transferable to potential success in the NFL. Teams could get hung up on his size and question if he was the beneficiary of simply being the centerpiece of a highly productive spread-option offense, but he has shown quality traits on a consistent basis.

James has fought the "too small" label his entire life, and will likely hear those words again after leaving Oregon with one year of eligibility remaining. The extensive resume he built in high school, along with excellent production at the college level, should allow scouts to overcome that train of thought judging his pro potential.

Coming off a 2,043-yard, 26-TD performance as a senior in high school, James redshirted the 2008 season while LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson carried the mail for the Ducks. He instantly earned his own stripes in 2009, earning All-Pac-10 honors, as well as the conference's Freshman of the Year award, from league coaches by rushing for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns. James one-upped himself as a sophomore, winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back and several other honors after leading the nation with 1,732 yards and 21 rushing scores. He also caught 17 passes for 208 and three touchdowns.

He was one better in 2011 -- 247-1,805-18 rushing -- and finished the season on an absolute tear with five games of at least 142 rushing yards, including 159 on 25 carries in a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, his final game with the Ducks.

James continually comes up big in the biggest games, using his low center of gravity, quickness and acceleration to gash defenses for explosive plays. Comparisons to successful smaller backs like Warrick Dunn and Brian Westbrook are natural, and though possibility a bit of a reach, could lead to James being picked much higher than last year's fifth-round "mighty mite" backs, Jacquizz Rodgers and Dion Lewis.

James is a quick and decisive back who looks like his motive is to be productive each time the ball touches his hands. He can get to full speed quickly off the snap and doesn't hesitate when hitting the line of scrimmage. He is capable of making splash plays out of nothing and possesses the uncanny ability to turn broken plays into positive ones. He is a better runner between the tackles than his frame would suggest, as he uses a quick shuffle to avoid trash or get up and into an open lane. Once through the line, he can make things happen on his own downfield, and routinely had runs of 20-plus yards at Oregon. He is a consummate threat to score, and has the foot quickness and breakout speed to get the edge and turn up field at the next level.

James had fumbling issues throughout his career that weren't helped by a dislocated elbow midway through his junior season. He looks conscious of keeping the ball high and tight to his frame, and he has very good all-around strength, but he doesn't have the arm strength to secure the ball when big hits are put on him. He is a willing and technical blocker in pass protection but simply doesn't have the bulk or anchor to be successful here early at the next level.

James confirmed his special speed at the Combine. He also performed well in the receiving drills. To start the 2011 season, James struggled against LSU. It was the second straight game in which he was contained by a quality SEC defense. James ran for only 54 yards on 18 carries with a score. After a slow start, he turned it on and tore up some weaker competition. James recorded four games this year where he went over 200 yards rushing.

Inside: Size will be a detriment between the tackles at the next level, but don't underestimate his toughness. Prefers to run north-south, though, feeling his way through traffic with quick cuts and nice vision. May be used in zone system, shows patience to wait for blocking on stretch plays, able to find and take advantage of cutback lanes. Gets skinny to find tight creases to rip through when around the goal line or needing to pick up the first down. Can avoid a penetrating lineman, jump-step to find an open lane and accelerate into the second level. Given the ball in crunch time due to his toughness and ball security. Lacks the strength to push the pile or break off NFL linebacker tackles inside.

Outside: Does not try to take every play outside, as you'd expect given his size and speed, but dangerous once on the sideline. Excellent speed and good vision in the open field, capable of breaking off large chunks of yardage, or score, even if safety gets a deep angle. Spins off a low tackle attempts in space and maintain his balance to continue on. Willing to cut inside for extra yards instead of heading to the sideline (but may need to do that more to avoid big hits from NFL defenders).

Breaking tackles: Generally better in avoiding tackles can breaking them against NFL-caliber talent. Willing to lower his shoulder in space to knock over an opponent and churns legs to drag tacklers when owning a head of steam, but comes down on first contact too often even when it is a glancing blow or lunging arm tackle. Flashes the ability to break a tackle in the backfield and reverse field for a big gain, but he will lose yardage a times and it's much tougher to accomplish that against NFL defenses.

Blocking: Does not shy away from contact in pass protection, and is a fairly effective cut blocker with good awareness of where the pressure is coming from. Offers help to tackles on the edge on designed rollouts. Lack of size will make it difficult for him to stand up to NFL linebackers (who will anticipate his cut blocks), though he will give nice effort when holding up blitzers coming up the middle. Flares out into the flat on most third downs.

Receiving: Not used extensively out of the backfield, but has flashes playmaking ability in the flat. Looks capable of adjusting to poor throws with heat coming his direction. Has speed to be a threat on wheel routes, though NFL defensive backs will win jump balls. Can sidestep the first man and accelerate, but is usually brought down quickly by strong arm tackles.

Intangibles: Quiet player who prefers to lead by example. Suspended for 2010 season opener after pleading guilty to misdemeanor harassment charge (four other charges were dropped) due to altercation with his girlfriend; sentenced to 10 days in jail (received electronic bracelet instead) and two years probation. Says he's learned and matured more from that incident than anything else in his life.

In 2011, the junior had 1,805 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He also caught 17 passes for 210 yards and a score. James missed a couple of games in the middle of the year after suffering a dislocated elbow. The elbow injury was a tough blow to his draft stock since there were already durability concerns and some question his ability to stay healthy in the NFL.

At the pro level, James should be viewed as a change-of-pace and third-down back. He does not have the size and durability to be an every-down player. That makes James a luxury pick to a degree, but he could be an effective piece in an offense if used correctly.

James, who ran the 40 in 4.45 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, was timed at 4.29 and 4.36 at that distance today by UO running backs coach Gary Campbell at his pro day, the UO assistant said. Scouts, who each recorded individual hand-held times, agreed on a consensus time of 4.41 seconds, a source said.

My Opinion: For things I have a concern with is his size and his arrest. I am not too concerned with his frame. His legs are nice and thick but his torso is a little small. He has quick feet and tight cuts, he will make guys miss. He catches the ball well. He is not overly physical but flashes it at times. He won't move the pile and gets taken down easily. He has some moves, I saw a spin move, he can make guys miss but won't power through a dude. He is a bit of a dancer. He is great when he gets outside and into the secondary. He will try to block guys but is not very effective. He can run between the tackles but usually doesn't get very much and struggles when facing a good defensive line.

For the Broncos James is not what we are looking for now. I would love to have him but he is not the sort of back we need and would be a luxury pick. He is the sort of guy in the NFL that needs to be put in space on the outside. I just don't think he is a fit for the Broncos offense and I worry that he may have a McCluster start to his career.

Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
Height: 5-10. Weight: 197.
40 Time: 4.41. Official: 4.47 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.50
3 Cone Drill: 6.95 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 4.32 secs
Vertical: 33. Broad: 9-8. 116 inch.
Arm Length: 31.
Hand Size: 8 5/8.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4.

Pead is an explosive, electrifying running back from Cincinnati who has produced in all areas. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, make a guy miss and turn upfield for a score, or do all that from running inside the tackles. He uses his vision and athletic ability to find a hole and once there has the long speed to take it the distance. There are few question marks around the skill set of Pead's game; some may worry about his play transferring to the next level, as he has shown the tendency to disappear at times. But with Pead's natural athletic ability and production at the position, he should be one of the first three backs taken in the draft, with second-round value.

Pead beat two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin's high school rushing records (including 2,204 yards, 39 TD as a senior) and won the Ohio Player of the Year award in his division in 2006 and 2007. But instead of staying in his hometown of Columbus to play for the Buckeyes, where they have him just a cursory look, Pead opted to be "the man" for a rising Cincinnati squad.

He was third on the depth chart as a freshman, carrying the ball just 30 times for 194 yards and catching two passes for 11 yards. And though Pead started just three games in 2009, he led the team in carries and yards (121-806-9, 20-201-2 rec). He finally becoming the team's primary ballcarrier as a junior, earning second-team All-Big East honors (157-1,029-6 rush, 26-190-1 rec).

Pead may have the best straight-line speed of any running back in the 2012 senior class. Though not elite in his vision or strength, he has enough all-around game (including effort as a blocker) to be a three-down player at the next level--which is often the difference between being valued as an early-round and mid-round prospect.

Pead has an initial step out of his stance that is comparable to some of the best backs currently in the league. He hits the hole explosively and gets up to top speed quickly, which allows him to get upfield and find a seam without getting touched. He has good vision once he gets through the hole, and displays the foot quickness and lateral agility to make the first defender miss. But he is careful to stick his foot in the ground and get upfield to pick up yards. He can dance around defenders but prefers to cut once and go. He can get the edge on a defense and has the breakaway speed thereafter. His burst, footwork and vision allow him to be a viable pass-catching option out of the backfield. Although he didn't do it much at Cincinnati, he is likely to catch a lot of passes at the next level.

Pead isn't a willing blocker and barely displays the strength to stall rushers when he does step in. He has limited experience catching passes out of the backfield, and there are questions as to his reliability and consistency will be throughout a full NFL season. He is a bit undersized and hasn't been hit enough times in college to get a feeling of what his durability will be at the next level.

Inside: North-south runner with quick feet to feel his way through creases. Makes small, quick cuts through creases and side-steps defenders in or past the hole to find room to get into his stride. Does not run over defenders often, but keeps legs moving near the goal line to make his way in. Holds the ball low at times, but has generally good ball security (no fumbles in 2009, two in 2010). Does not always show a burst in the box, anticipates contact. Quick draws make him run with shoulders not square to the line.

Outside: Excellent straight-line speed makes him a legitimate breakaway threat anytime he finds open field. Lowers his pads to create contact at the second level when seeing defenders coming straight-on. Usually switches the ball to his outside hand when cutting to his left side. Inconsistent power in his cuts, stops on a dime at times to allow defenders to run him by but will round on stretch plays or take a couple of steps to change directions.

Breaking tackles: Flashes the ability to keep his balance through arm tackles inside and run through high tackle attempts. Spins off tackles to free himself or at least extend for two extra yards. Good one-on-one stiff-arm and swipes away oncoming defenders with his off-arm. Gets tripped up too easily on first contact at times.

Blocking: Gives effort as a pass protector, could stay on the field on third downs in the NFL. Punches and extends when helping tackles double on the edge. Stands up against defenders attacking the pocket, usually effective cutting them down, and lays out to reach those coming from other side of formation. Lacks great strength, will be ripped off, but tries to get back into the play.

Receiving: Flashes quick feet and shimmy to leave linebackers in the dust as a route-runner. Threat to cut to either side or run down the seam when leaving the backfield. Fair hands, grabs screen passes in traffic and can extend to snare wide throws. Secures catch before trying to move upfield.

Intangibles: Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Limited by left knee injury for parts of two games early in 2010, rallied his teammates on the sidelines. Ohio 400 meter champion as a senior in high school.

Pead helped himself with a nice week of practice at Mobile, Alabama. He performed well as a runner, receiver, blocker and returner. At the Combine, Pead ran well along with looking natural in the receiving drills. He looks like a good complementary back as part of a stable as an ideal third-down back.

In 2011, Pead averaged 5.3 yards per carry with 1,259 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 39 passes for 319 yards and three scores. Pead runs with good vision and balance. The senior had huge games against Tennessee, North Carolina State and Louisville, but he did not play well against either South Florida or Connecticut.

Pead is a good back for third down as he is a willing blocker and quality receiver. Those could be his most appealing characteristics. Pead runs too upright and will need to run with better pad level in the NFL. He also had some issues with ball security.

My Opinion: Too upright when running, struggles when blocking and ball security issues? That screams stay away! But...Pead is the best back I have looked at so far. He has small hands but a nicely put together frame. He could get more powerful in the legs. He is a good catcher and fast in a straight line. Could have a little faster footwork. Is a little more physical than James was and can also make a guy miss with quick cuts. He has good vision and explodes into the hole when he finds it. He also takes what is given too him. He can run between the tackles well and occasionally knock the linebackers backwards. Does run through arm tackles. He doesn't dance often but can sometimes be caught in the back field the times he does. He is a very quick runner and explodes through the hole. Needs some work on his blocking. But can turn the corner and is fast in space.

Of the backs looked at so far Pead stood out to me more than the others, he made me take notice of him. If he is there in the third or fourth we should jump all over him. I really like Pead.

Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee
Height: 5-10. Weight: 205.
40 Time: 4.54. 10-Yd Split: 1.56.
3 Cone Drill: 7.36 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 4.19 secs
Bench: 24 reps.
Vertical: 34. Broad: 9-10. 118 inch
Arm Length: 29 3/4 inch
Hand Size: 8.
Projected Round (2012): 4-5.

Poole was hampered not by ability or injuries, but turmoil and change while at Tennessee. The coaching change hit in the middle of his career, and rebuilding phases hurt his ability to be productive. Despite this, Poole is a player who has consistently displayed the ability to run between the tackles, block, and show the overall savvy to compete and find a role in an NFL offense. Expect him to be taken in the late rounds for a team looking to take a mature player who can step in and compete for a backup and special teams role immediately.

Poole was a three-star running back out of high school, choosing Tennessee over Auburn, South Carolina and Clemson.

He saw action as a true freshman backup in 2008, recording 86 yards on 22 carries (3.9). Poole was again a reserve in 2009 as a sophomore, finishing with 85 yards on 10 rushes (8.5).

He started all 13 games in 2010 as a junior and had his best season, recording a team-high 1,034 yards on 204 carries (5.1) and 11 touchdowns, adding 22 catches for 171 yards (7.8) and one touchdown, earning All-SEC Honorable Mention honors.

Poole broke onto the scene as a junior, starting all 12 games. He became the 15th player to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in single season for Tennessee and had the only 100-yard rushing performance against Alabama's defense in a 58-game span.

However, he had an uninspiring 2011 season as the only senior starter on offense and produced inconsistent stats on the ground. He finished with 693 yards on 187 carries (3.7) and five touchdowns, adding 21 receptions for 164 yards (7.8).

Poole is an average athlete with good footwork, but doesn't possess any special or distinguishing qualities and looks like a borderline draftable running back.

Poole is a savvy and experienced runner who is concerned with getting up field and taking what he can get from a defense. He is elusive for a bigger runner and understands how to pick his spots and burst through the hole. At the second level he has shown the ability to juke linebackers and run through them for positive yards. He is a reliable and consistent back who takes care of the ball.

Poole is a serviceable back and far from electric. He was reliable for Tennessee but always faced pressure from younger and more talented backs to take his job. He will need to show he can contribute on special teams to make a 53 man roster.

Strengths: Balanced runner with average athleticism and agility. He has a thick lower half with solid build throughout his frame. Poole is a physical runner and hits the hole with authority, lowering his head and picking up the tough yards. He runs with good pad level and always seems to be falling forward for positive yardage. Poole has quick feet with good vision to pick through defenses. He has solid hands and body control as a reliable pass catcher.

Weaknesses: Poole needs to show better patience to allow blocks to develop and is too often running up the backs of his blockers. He isn't naturally explosive as a runner and lacks elusiveness in the open field. Poole doesn't possess any dynamic qualities. He needs a few steps to get going with limited burst and foot speed. Poole has an inconsistent feel eluding tacklers and doesn't create a lot on his own. He doesn't display much power to push the pile or consistently break tackles. Marginal base strength in pass protection and no experience as a return man. He had a few injuries, most notably a tender hamstring, that caused him to miss some playing time. Poole had a subpar senior season, failing to match his numbers from 2010 and was benched at times due to ineffectiveness.

This offseason, Poole has really helped his stock. He had a strong week at the East-West Shrine and followed that up with a solid Combine. Poole ran well with quickness and cutting ability. He was banged up this season and battled a hamstring injury. Thus, Poole did not produce the numbers that many were expecting. He totaled just 693 yards and five touchdowns. Poole is a sleeper prospect who could surprise.

My Opinion: Poole has tiny hands but really big thighs for a guy his size. He has decent catching ability and footwork. He was pretty slow on the 3 cone drill but really strong on the bench. Dances a bit in the back field. He is surprisingly quick though he wasn't timed that great. Not a very physical back. Has decent vision and can pick his lanes quickly. Has great cut back ability, should be used in a one cut system. He finds the hole quickly on the cutback and sprints right through it.

Poole isn't bad value in the later rounds for the Broncos but I think he needs to be in a one cut system, which Shanny runs. Don't be surprised if he ends up with the Skins.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M
Height: 5-10. Weight: 206.
40 Time: 4.47. 10-Yd Split: 1.57.
3 Cone Drill: 7.17 secs
Bench: 21 reps.
Vertical: 32.5. Broad: 9-6. 114.0 inch
Arm Length: 29 3/8.
Hand Size: 9 1/8.
Projected Round (2012): 4-6.

Gray is a well-rounded back who can block, run and catch the ball out of the backfield. He has great size and has been productive as a pass catcher throughout his career. He is highly elusive in the open field and understands the nuances of short-intermediate running back routes in the passing game. He is ideal for a screen-heavy team, as he has reliable hands and is patient to wait for plays to develop. He likes to bounce the ball outside, sometimes too quickly, but he is effective when doing so. There are knocks on his game as an inside runner, which will keep him from getting drafted as an every-down back in the NFL. He does, however, bring value as a returner. Although not explosive, he is effective in this role. Look for him to be selected in the middle rounds.

Though there was a bit of a learning curve as Gray re-learned the running back position after starring as a quarterback in his senior year of high school, he has proven himself an all-purpose force that opposing defenses and special teams units have rarely stopped for long periods of time since arriving at A&M.

Head coach Mike Sherman got Gray on the field as a rusher (75-363) and slot receiver (10-60) as a true freshman, but his real contribution came as a kick returner (49-1,169-1). The Texas native then earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 accolades in 2009 (159-757-5 rush, 28-226-2 receiving, 27-642-1 KR) and 2010 (200-1,133-12 rush, 34-251-1 receiving, 17-422 KR) and was a second-team pick in '11 with 198-1,045-12 rushing despite missing the final two games -- vs. Texas and against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 31 -- with a left shoulder fracture.

Gray will not be selected as early as former high school and college teammate Von Miller, who Denver selected with the second pick of the 2011 draft. But if he adds consistent acceleration once he sees an opening to his toughness inside and balance in the open field, teams will have a tough time passing on him two or three times in April.

Gray is a big and athletic back who hits the hole hard and is elusive for a man of his size. He is one of those natural runners who understands when to weave and when to run with power. He has been highly productive and his style of running with power in his legs makes him a reliable short-yardage option early in his career.

Gray is not a burner and can have slow feet at times. He usually picks his spots, but he can be hesitant in the backfield. Despite his size, he struggles as a pass protector at times. It takes Gray a few steps to reach full speed, and he won't be a threat to take it the distance at the next level.

Inside: Lacks great size for running inside but owns a compact build with relatively thick upper body and strong legs. Runs hard every carry, side-hops to find creases inside and usually falls forward for an extra yard. Bulls through arm tackles to find the end zone or first down. Holds ball high and tight in close quarters. Lines up at fullback in short-yardage situations, churns legs and lowers pads to pick up tough yardage. Won't move piles at the next level, but can bounce off them to keep moving if allowed to.

Outside: Patient stretch runner, presses line but waits for a crease before heading upfield or cutting inside a block. Has enough straight-line speed to be a breakaway threat once past the second level. Sets up defender with a quick cut to either side without dancing, though he loses his balance when brain moves faster than his feet. Uses stiff-arm to hold off oncoming inside-out tacklers. Puts ball in outside hand on runs to either side. Improving his instincts and burst, able to avoid tacklers in the hole and turn on the jets once seeing open field. Waits too long to make a cut on some stretch runs, allowing inside-out defenders to get a hold of him.

Breaking tackles: Not the strongest back in the class, but difficult to bring down in the open field because his balance, active legs and strong upper-body allows him to run through arm tackles. Shows some shifty hips in space, can cut inside or stop short to break the ankles of would-be tacklers. Success as kick returner comes from quick cuts in open field and straight-line speed, also tough enough to bounce off poor tackle attempts and keep feet moving.

Blocking: Does more than get in the way as a pass protector. Stands up to linebackers in the backfield and will deliver a punch on quarterback draws. Lacks the size and tenacity to sustain, however. Willing to take a hit on play-fakes up the middle to protect the quarterback.

Receiving: Uses as slot receiver at times during his career because of his receiving skills, but mostly catches dump-offs in his current role. A threat on screen passes due to his speed and strength in traffic. Dances after the catch at times, does not show immediate acceleration once stopped. Inconsistent adjusting to poor throws, must secure the pass before making a move.

Intangibles: Sherman referred to Gray as a "guy you want to marry your daughter" because of his attitude and work ethic on and off the field. Accepts whatever role he is given on the team, supports teammates who may get more touches. "We" player, deflects praise to teammates.

Gray had a nice Combine performance. He ran fast and looked natural in the field drills as a receiver. The biggest issue for Gray is the medical checkup and durability concerns. For the majority of the season, he split carries with teammate Christine Michael.

After Michael went down with an injury, Gray became the lead back. He ran for 1,045 yards (5.3 average) and 12 touchdowns this year. Gray also caught 31 passes for 239 yards and three scores. He has a nice skill set but may not have the size to be a lead back in the NFL. Gray could be an interesting back as part of a running back-by-committee approach.

My Opinion: His measurables all check out. He has a compact and strong body type. He needs a little work on his footwork. He is a decent catcher of the football. He posses decent vision and can find the hole. He has some moves and can make people miss. He can get physical at times and is not afraid of contact. Is a decent runner inside, he can work between the tackles. He can run through arm tackles and gain tough yards. He is patient and will wait for his blocks to setup.

A late round pick for Gray is a steal, add him with Pead to backs that I like from this group.

Chris Rainey, WR/RB/KR/PR, Florida
Height: 5-8. Weight: 180.
40 Time: 4.37. Official: 4.45 secs
3 Cone Drill: 6.50 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 3.93 secs
60 YD Shuttle: 11.06 secs
Bench: 16 reps.
Vertical: 36.5. Broad: 10-0. 120 inch
Arm Length: 30 3/4.
Hand Size: 9 1/2.
Projected Round (2012): 5-7.

Rainey, like his teammate Jeff Demps, is a burner and could challenge the record for fastest 40-yard dash time at this year's combine. Unlike Demps, his track-speed translates to the football field, which makes him an intriguing prospect who has played various roles within Florida's offense. While not nearly as big as former teammate Percy Harvin, Rainey has been able to deliver for the Gators in a similar fashion. He uses his supreme agility and foot quickness to make guys miss and make an electric play whenever he touches the ball. He could move up into the middle rounds by April if he continues to display his athletic ability in the coming months.

An extremely versatile athlete capable of making an impact as a running back, receiver or special teams standout, Rainey emerged during his senior season to be the first Florida running back since Emmitt Smith to lead the Gators in both rushing yards (861) and receptions (31). He followed that up with an impressive week of practice at the Senior Bowl in which his playmaking skills were largely put to the test at wide receiver, though his only touch during the game, itself, came on a five yard run.

A highly touted prep prospect, Rainey saw action immediately for the Gators but was sidelined after four games with a shoulder injury and eventually redshirted in 2008. He saw action in 48 more games over his Florida career, starting 19 contests. The all-purpose star left Florida having rushed for 2,464 yards (ninth all-time for the Gators) and caught 69 passes for 795 yards, scoring 19 touchdowns over his career.

At his size, Rainey certainly isn't a workhorse candidate at the next level. Some, in fact, see his greatest potential lining up as a slot receiver in a similar role to what Percy Harvin (himself a former Florida Gator) has with the Minnesota Vikings. If utilized as a back, Rainey's soft hands and playmaking ability could intrigue teams, especially considering the impact undersized multi-purpose backs like Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush and even Dexter McCluster saw for their respective clubs in 2011.

Rainey is quick off the snap to make a decision and hit the hole hard. He usually looks to get the edge and almost always does. He is a very effective short-area mover who can ignite a two-step power move to beat a defender laterally and get to the edge. He is the type of athlete whose explosion is obvious every time he sticks his toes in the ground. He is always a threat to get the edge, make one quick inside move, and take it the distance. He is a straight-line runner but is elusive and make defenders miss in the open field. He is a good route runner out of the backfield and out of the slot and he will likely get work there early in the pros.

Rainey is undersized and it shows when he tries to run inside or pass protect. He almost always looks to get outside and will go down on contact when running in the box. He is not willing nor able to block linebackers and protect the quarterback and will get overpowered at the next level. He is a strict work-in-space player at the next level and will have a hard time playing as a traditional running back.

Strengths: Perhaps the most explosive cutting ability and straight-line speed of any athlete in the 2012 draft. Can make defenders look silly due to his lateral agility and sudden acceleration. Versatile. Saw time as a running back, receiver, punt returner and kick returner for the Gators … Looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield and has shown the ability to track the ball over his shoulder and snatch passes outside of his frame … Has struggled a bit with durability over his career but is willing to play with pain … Relishes his opportunities on special teams but is not just a return specialist … Explosive burst led to his breaking the school and SEC record with six blocked punts.

Weaknesses: A bit of a luxury prospect for the next level. Certainly is a versatile, playmaking athlete but provides next to nothing as a blocker which means he'll be an obvious focus of the defense whenever he's on the field. Caught most of his passes on simple dump-offs and quick screens. Struggled tracking the ball over his shoulder as well as adjusting to poorly thrown passes over his career … Has had continued issues with his shoulders dating back to high school which will require a close look by team doctors at the Combine. Character red-flag … Was charged with aggravated stalking (a felony) after sending a threatening text message to a former girl friend in 2010. The charges were dropped as part of a pre-trial agreement in which he had to complete an intervention program …

Rainey had a quality week at the Senior Bowl with his speed and receiving ability. At the Combine, his 40 time was actually a little slower than expected and he dropped some passes in the receiving drills. Rainey started out the season with a bang but tailed off in conference play. He was banged up and unable to maintain his productivity while playing injured. Rainey totaled 861 yards rushing with three touchdowns this year. He also caught 31 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns.

Helping Rainey's draft stock is his punt-blocking prowess. He had six blocked kicks in his collegiate career. Rainey has off-the-field concerns stemming from aggravated-stalking charges from 2010.

Chris Rainey isn't concerned about his NFL Draft stock; he doesn't "want to hear all of that bullcrap." The former Florida do-everything back just cares about proving to NFL teams that he belongs in the league. He did his best to convince them Tuesday morning during UF's Pro Day in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Rainey didn't run the 4.1-second 40-yard dash he boasted about before the NFL Combine, but the 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster clocked times of 4.3 and 4.33 Tuesday. "I did great, man, way better than the combine, I know that," Rainey said. "That 40 time, I've been thinking about that for the longest, and I had to come out here and redeem myself." Not only did Rainey redeem himself in the 40, but he also showed off his route-running ability and his hands during drills. Coaches, scouts and former players in attendance compared Rainey to former teammate and current Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, who was in attendance Tuesday. "[Rainey's] multitalented," Jacksonville Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "He can do a lot of things with the ball. You just have to get him the ball and let him do his thing. Probably a little bit like Percy - guys from the same school, same speed, same qualities that can hurt you in many ways." Although Rainey said the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Harvin is the "perfect comparison" despite the difference in size, Rainey said he wants to be like the New England Patriots' Wes Welker. Rainey already has workouts scheduled with the Philadelphia Eagles on April 2 and the Cincinnati Bengals after that.

A redshirt senior hybrid wide receiver and running back … Has appeared in 41 games as a Gator and has made nine starts … Has accumulated 1,603 yards rushing on 225 attempts (7.1 average) and scored 11 touchdowns … Has also recorded 38 receptions for 414 yards (10.9 average) and scored four touchdowns … Also competed with the UF track team in the spring indoor season in 2010.

My Opinion: Rainey's short area quickness is amazing. He has big Hands for a guy his size. Has a good muscular frame but probably won't be able to add much more weight to it. Has great footwork and decent hands. He will dance looking for the big play. He can be brought down easily in the backfield. He can make a guy miss and has a sick spin move. Will break arm tackles and power ahead. Is very fast, will run away from the defense. He won't be able to run between the tackles at the next level.

Rainey would be a luxury pick for the Broncos, he is a small speedster you need to get into space to attack a defenders secondary. I also have a feeling he will be over drafted. He is an intriguing prospect but for the Broncos I say no.


Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Height: 5-9. Weight: 223.
40 Time: 4.47. Official: 4.55 secs
3 Cone Drill: 6.79 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 4.16 secs
60 YD shuttle: 11.29 secs
Bench: 28.
Vertical: 36. Broad: 10-0. 120 inch
Arm: 30 1/2. Hand: 9.
Projected Round (2012): 2.

Martin is a two-year starter in Boise State's electric offense, in which he has had great production toward the end of his career (1299 yards and 16 TDs in 2011). He has strong athletic ability, with his footwork being his most outstanding trait. He can make people miss in the open field and in tight spaces. He is an effective runner between the tackles and can burst through the lane to take it the distance. What stands out most about Martin is his decisiveness as a ball carrier; he often hits the hole hard. He is a natural with the ball in his hands and will bring value to an NFL team as a special teams player, either as a return option or a contributor in the coverage game. Though ball security has been a concern in the past, Martin is an overall solid back and should expect to be selected in the second round because of his ability to contribute early in several different ways. Boise State is known for their aerial attack on offense, and that reputation was upheld after they had two receivers selected in the top 100 picks of the 2011 draft (Titus Young, #44, Detroit; Austin Pettis, #78, St. Louis). Though QB Kellen Moore and his receivers got the headlines in 2010, Martin's first-team All-WAC performance (201-1,260-12 rushing, 28-338-2 receiving) added the balance opponents really feared. He backed that up with a 1,299-yard rushing season in 2011, posting a career high 16 rushing touchdowns and against caught 28 passes with two scores.

After earning the team's Offensive Scout Player of the Year in his redshirt 2007 season, Martin played a bit role on offense (24 carries, 107 yards; two catches, 53 yards) but won the "Hammer" award on special teams with 11 tackles. That physicality caused coaches to move him to nickel back during spring 2009 practices, but after three games (seven tackles) he moved back to offense due to injuries at the position. It proved a smart move, as his 129 carries went for 765 yards and 15 scores.

Martin combines powerful north-south running with surprisingly agility, sometimes making it look like his upper and lower bodies aren't connected as he changes directions downfield. Though he lacks the elite speed of a Maurice Jones-Drew, Martin's low center of gravity and toughness will certainly make scouts imagine he could have similar success at the next level. For that reason, he's a probable early-round pick.

Martin is a highly productive back with a polished all-around game. He looks and plays like a starting NFL back. He has a lot of experience carrying the ball and has been a reliable runner when closing out games for Boise State. He is careful with the ball and a very savvy runner between the tackles with the athletic ability to break it outside.

Martin is a very traditional back who is not extremely explosive. He is good in all facets, but some scouts will knock him for not being "outstanding" in any one particular area.

Inside: Bowling-ball runner between the tackles. Flashes a burst into and out of the hole. Lowers his pads and delivers a blow into the chest of defenders. Falls forward on nearly every run due to lean. Finds creases with jump-steps and bounces into open on some plays, but buries his head too soon at times. Short build makes it difficult for defenders to find among lineman. Does not always read blocks correctly from pulling guards. Holds ball high and tight when inside. May not be big enough to move piles at the next level, but gets low and gives great effort to pick up short-yardage plays.

Outside: Good acceleration and straight-line speed to break off long runs. Cuts hard to his left and right equally well to avoid hard-charging safeties. Flashes setting up straight-on defender with inside-out cut which freezes them. Strong stiff-arm denies oncoming tacklers. Shows patience on stretch runs, plants foot and accelerates to avoid penetrating defenders or once finding a hole. Does not always move ball to outside hand. Ball gets away from his body when running at full speed; fumbled three times in 2010, twice in 2009 in limited carries. May not break away from NFL defenders as regularly as he did against non-BCS conference competition.

Breaking tackles: Low center of gravity, strong lean, and powerful legs let him bull through arm and shoulder tackles. Good balance to spin off a hit, maintain balance and continue downfield. Lowers pads on contact and churns through cut tackles in space. Cuts quickly and even jump-cuts through traffic and past second-level tacklers. Plays through the whistle.

Blocking: Does not offer much in terms of pass protection. Often subbed out in obvious passing situations, best help for the quarterback is as an outlet receiver. Does not anchor against oncoming blitzers. Poor cut tackler, defenders easily elude him. Lacks height but possesses strength, build and attitude to improve with more coaching.

Receiving: Solid receiver in the flat, capable of running through tackles on the edge to move the chains. Flexible enough to catch passes thrown behind him. Effective on center screens, makes first man miss to get into space. Rarely goes out of bounds (unless time requires), cuts inside tacklers to get extra yardage.

Intangibles: Offensive weapon with defensive mindset. NFL body comes from excellent weight room work ethic. Teammate Matt Slater referred to Martin as a "muscle hamster" due to his compact build.

Martin has had a strong offseason. He was the most impressive running back at the Senior Bowl and showed the ability to battle defenses as a runner, receiver and blocker. At the Combine. Martin ran well while tying for the lead on the bench press. As expected, he performed well in receiving drills. Martin looks secure as a second-round pick who could go early on Friday night.

The senior put together a quality season this year. He averaged five yards per carry with 1,299 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Martin also contributed 28 receptions for 263 yards and two scores. He is a well-rounded back who has three-down potential in the NFL. Out with an injury, the Broncos missed him a lot in their one loss against the Horned Frogs.

Martin also is a skilled kick returner and averaged 34 yards per return this season. In the NFL, he could be a good option as part of a running back rotation. Martin is a sudden runner with good quickness and cutting ability.

For his career, the Stockton, California native rushed for 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns. That ranks him fifth and third respectively on the school's all-time list in those categories. He also added 715 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns and finished fifth in school history with 4,885 all-purpose yards.

My Opinion: Martin has a very thick body all over, was much bigger at the combine then he was during the season by about 10 pounds. Martin has good hands and is a very good route runner. He has pretty quick feet and moves really well. He has excellent vision, is physical and his footwork is amazing, he makes guys miss at will as he bounces around between the tackles. He is not a dancer, he runs the play and is always looking for the hole in front of him. He is hard to bring down. Surprisingly patient, he will wait for his blocks and then finds the hole. But he is not very explosive and not overly fast. He won't run away from guys.

I like Martin, he does everything that is asked of a running back and does it very effectively. The big issue with him is he is not overly explosive, doesn't explode through any holes and that he is not very fast. He barely ever runs away from defenses. Not possessing that top end speed is a big knock on a RB and I could see him drop in the draft. I say we look else where before coming back to Martin.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Height: 5-11. Weight: 212.
40 Time: 4.38. Official: 4.40 secs
Vertical: 33 inch.
Arm Length: 31 3/8 inch
Hand size: 9 1/4 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 2

Miller is an early-entry true junior from Miami who really surprised in 2011, his first year as a starter in Miami's offense. He had played sparingly in more of a scat back role prior to this year, but showed that he is a true starting tailback who possesses many traits of a first rounder. While there is debate about the risk behind investing an early round selection on a back whose shelf life is short, Miller has put together enough solid tape to garner a late first-round value and should continue to excite and ascend as he displays his athletic ability throughout the pre-draft process.

A one-year starter, Lamar Miller was one of the top running back recruits out of high school, choosing Miami (Fla.) over Florida, Florida State and LSU. After redshirting in 2009, he played in 11 games in 2010 and was the primary back-up as a RS freshman, recording 646 yards on 108 carries (6.0) and 6 touchdowns, adding a kickoff return for a score. Miller emerged as the starter in 2011 as a sophomore (12 starts), finishing second in the ACC with 1,272 yards on 227 attempts (5.6) and 9 scores with 17 catches for 85 yards (5.0) and 1 touchdown, earning Second Team All-ACC honors. He decided to forego his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Miller isn't overly explosive to and through the hole, but has very good speed with a second gear to run away from defenders -- accelerates quickly once he finds room to run. He offers some versatility, lining up outside as a receiver and also contributing as a returner on special teams -- tough through contact, but won't break a lot of tackles. Miller is a smooth, one-cut runner, but is more fast than quick and doesn't have the short-area explosion to create in tight areas -- an upright runner and talented athlete who runs like a poor man's Jamaal Charles and has big-play ability, but he has questionable run instincts and some durability concerns.

Miller has track speed and actually ran a few anchor legs for the Miami track team prior to his junior year. Once in the open field, he is a threat to take it the distance and is not only a straight-line, long-speed runner; Miller has even more impressive quickness off the snap and in tight areas to avoid and stay productive. He is very smooth and impressive off the snap as he gets to top speed quickly and is able to pick his spots at full speed in a very effective way. He hardly ever gets stuck in the backfield and is reliable to get positive yardage on each carry. He is a very efficient runner who has a natural feel for maneuvering his way through the box.

Miller has only one full season of tape and was rather ineffective as a runner prior to this year. He relies on speed and leg drive to gain yards. He won't be able to juke linebackers at the next level or bail himself out of bad spots with his feet. He runs like a power back at times, which could be a liability in the NFL at his size.

Inside: Balanced athlete with dynamic start/stop ability and smooth change-of-direction skills to stay patient before bursting upfield. Has very good vision and cutback ability, doing a nice job finding the run lanes. Follows his blocks and stays patient behind the line of scrimmage. Not overly explosive and goes down too easily, struggling to create on his own. Too patient at times and looks indecisive ? questionable feel and instincts between the tackles. Freelances a lot and needs to allow the designed play to develop. Relies too much on the big play and needs to learn to be content with positive gains.

Outside: Accelerates and gets to top speed quickly when he sees daylight. Has nimble feet to make defenders miss and shows an extra gear to run away from them as well. Very good at forcing defenders to take poor angles with his lateral quickness and natural burst. Fast through the hole and a home run threat. Looks most comfortable on the outside and in space.

Breaking tackles: An upright runner with a narrow frame ? won?t break many tackles. Has improved body strength and stays coordinated through contact ? runs hard and fights for every yard. Lacks much strength to power through tackles and doesn?t have the body type to withstand a heavy beating. Suspect ball security and tends to wear down over the course of a game.

Blocking: Wasn't asked to stay in the pocket much as a pass protector and needs extensive technique work in this area.

Receiving: Effective pass catcher with good ballskills and body control to make tough grabs. Had only 28 catches over his collegiate career and has limited experience in this area.

Intangibles: Has experience as a return man on kickoffs with 15 returns for 376 yards (25.1 average) and 1 touchdown in his career. Had good production in his two seasons at the college level with the third-best single season rushing total in school history in 2011 (1,272 yards), nine career 100+ yd performances. Has suspect durability, playing most of the past season with a shoulder issue and will struggle with injuries. Was part of a two-back system at Miami (only two games in his career of 25+ carries) and lacks the size to be a bell-cow back, started the 2011 season with five straight 100+ yd games, but finished with just two in the final seven games. Still growing at the position and is not yet a finished product, will he put in the necessary work to reach his potential.

Miller ran a fast 40 time, as expected, at the Combine. He didn't perform as well in the receiving drills and some are questioning if he can be a three-down back in the NFL. That is the reason why Miller has fallen behind Wilson and Martin, who project to being every-down backs.

Miller was a dynamic playmaker in 2011. He ran for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns rushing while averaging 5.46 yards per carry this year. As a receiver, Miller caught 17 passes for 85 yards and a score. He showed the speed to break off long touchdown runs, and is a threat to score with any touch. Miller also has the size and strength to handle a large amount of carries. The redshirt sophomore was one of the most dynamic backs in college football.

In 2010, Miller ran for 646 yards (six yards per carry) with six touchdowns. He looks like a future starting running back in the NFL. Miller has playmaking speed and the size to handle a large amount of carries. He is a little raw and is not as polished as runners with more experience, but the benefit of that is less wear-and-tear compared to other prospects. Miller has a unique and special skill set.

At his pro day Miller skipped the 40-yard dash after running a blistering 4.4 at the Scouting Combine, but he did post a 35.5-inch vertical jump and a 6.94-second 3 Cone Drill.

My Opinion: Miller's frame is a little leaner than I expected but still solid for the position. He is a one year wonder but an unfinished product, there is still a lot of development work to be done with him. Has caught some passes but not a finished product there either. He is a one cut back, look for the hole and then run right through it. This leads to him dancing in the backfield a little bit. He often doesn't gain much but when he finds a hole and some space he puts the jets on for a big gain. He likes to lower his shoulder and hit guys. He is hard to bring down once in the secondary. He doesn't have the best footwork to make guys miss, he usually just out runs them. Doesn't have the best vision.

It is clear Miller is an unfinished product that needs a lot of work. Martin in comparison is the better back, he has better footwork and makes guys miss but he doesn't posses the speed that Miller has. Miller needs to work on his explosion, footwork, blocking and catching to be a feature back in the NFL. He has all the athletic ability that you want at the position and is worth a 2nd rounder but don't expect much from him right away till he develops.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington
Height: 5-11. Weight: 215.
40 Time: 4.46. Official: 4.57 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.57.
3 Cone Drill: 7.13 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 4.21 secs
Vertical: 31.5. Broad: 9-3. 111.0 inch.
Arm Length: 31 1/2 inch.
Hand Size: 9 3/4.
Projected Round (2012): 3.

Polk has been rising quickly on the boards of many NFL teams over the past year after really standing out as an impact running back and future NFL starter in his senior year. After an injury ended his freshman year two games in, Polk never sought a medical redshirt and enters this year's draft without attempting to attain a fifth year. It likely will be a logical move, considering Polk rushed for nearly 1500 yards in his last year and displayed many highly sought-after traits for a running back in the NFL.

Despite quarterbacks Jake Locker and Keith Price generating all of the hype, Polk has been Washington's most consistent and effective player during the Steve Sarkisian era.

Polk, a highly touted recruit, originally signed with Washington as a member of Tyrone Willingham's final class. He appeared ready to make an immediate splash for the Huskies, starting the first two games of his career, but injured his shoulder and was granted a medical redshirt in 2008.

Bigger and stronger in 2009, Polk enjoyed the greatest freshman season in Washington history, rushing for 1,113 yards and enjoying some of his most impressive performances against the Huskies' top competition (90 yards vs. LSU, 96 all-purpose yards in upset over then No. 3 ranked USC, 104 yards and a TD against Oregon). Polk was even better this past season, rushing for 1,465 yards and nine touchdowns - second behind only Corey Dillon's (1,695 in 1996) in Washington's storied history. It was Polk, not Locker, whose performance in the final three games of the regular season assured Washington of its first bowl berth since 2002.

Polk rushed for a gaudy 519 yards in the final three games, scoring four touchdowns over that span. He carried that momentum into the rematch with Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, rushing for 177 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was Polk, not Locker, who was voted as the Team MVP in 2010 by his Husky teammates.

Some expected Polk's numbers to fall back in 2011 with Locker having moved on to the NFL. While his regular-season rushing totals did slip slightly (1,341), Polk emerged as a dangerous threat as a receiver (career high 29 catches for 324 yards and four touchdowns) and proved even more lethal near the goal line, scoring a career-high 15 touchdowns. The 2011 first-team All-Pac-12 selection finished the regular season behind only former Oakland Raider first-round pick Napoleon Kaufman atop UW's career rushing leaders -- with a full season of eligibility remaining, although he opted to leave early for the NFL.

An incredibly physical ballcarrier who rarely goes down to initial contact, Polk is among the runners vying to follow Alabama's Trent Richardson as the second running back drafted in 2012.

Polk has ideal size to carry the load for an NFL team as a starter. He is well put together and looks to the naked eye to be more of a compact, agile athlete than he does a power back. Polk is an all-around player who doesn't necessarily excel in one specific aspect of his game but does many things at a high level and is capable of playing within a variety of schemes. He is quick off the ball and a natural runner between the tackles. He prefers to kick it outside and gain an edge on the defense to utilize his speed, but he can be productive inside and is a heavy runner who is tough to bring down. Polk is patient and has smooth footwork to be able to throttle down his speed and wait on blockers and plays to develop.

Polk displayed elite ability only in his last year at Washington and was a slow developer up to that point. He is a decent blocker in pass protection but can struggle with his technique at times. He has the anchor and thigh strength to leverage under bigger rushers, but he still needs to work on squaring up defenders as a blocker instead of chipping them as they run by. Polk doesn't have elite speed in the open field to run away from defensive backs, and although he is explosive in short area movements he won't be able to accelerate past safeties who have an angle on him in pursuit downfield.

Inside: Strong interior runner. Quickly presses the line of scrimmage and has the burst to get through the line of scrimmage and into the second level quickly. A classic North/South runner who doesn't waste time moving laterally. Good vision to set up cutback lanes as he gets to the open field. Doesn't possess elite breakaway speed, but is fast enough to gain yardage in chunks when he finds a seam. Fights for extra yardage and is a reliable short-yardage runner. Good forward lean. Keeps his legs churning on contact. Protects the ball with both hands.

Outside: Not truly explosive, but possesses enough speed to beat the linebacker to the edge. Looks to get upfield. Won't rely on his speed to run around defenders. Looks for the hole and can stick his foot in the ground and cut upfield quickly. Does not possess top breakaway speed, though he's rarely caught from behind.

Breaking tackles: Unquestionably his best attribute. Very physical runner who keeps his legs churning on contact. Rarely goes down with the first hit. Lowers his shoulder into defenders and shows a variety of natural running skills to break free, including a stiff-arm, spin move and pure determination. Runs low to the ground and with good forward lean to generate the tough yards. Keeps his arms wrapped securely around the ball.

Blocking: An underrated component of his game. Cognizant pass defender who is willing to take on the hard-charging linebacker head on. Keeps his shoulders square and brings his hips to jolt the defender. Will resort to cut-blocks, on occasion, and could use some technical work, as he'll lunge low. NFL pass rushers may be able to leap over him … Willing to help teammates downfield.

Receiving: Became more of a weapon out of the backfield in 2011 for the Huskies, catching passes out of the backfield on simple swing passes, as well as more complicated wheel routes and even occasionally lining up outside. Possesses the athleticism and soft hands to contribute to an NFL passing attack. Reliable hands out of the backfield, demonstrating the ability to quickly secure the pass and turn upfield. Demonstrated the ability to track the ball over his shoulder. Good flexibility, balance to adjust to the poorly thrown pass. Good vision and patience for screens.

Intangibles: Doubled as a kick returner as a redshirt freshman, averaging 19.8 yards a return on 12 attempts … Final pro grade may not be determined until the Combine as team doctors will want to check out his medical … Has already undergone two shoulder surgeries and a knee scope, a concern considering Polk's highly physical running style … Signed with Washington largely due to the fact that it was where his mother wanted him to go … Graduated in June, 2011.

Polk was one of the more disappointing players at the Senior Bowl. He looked slow and sluggish as runner, plus he struggled in blitz protection. At the Combine, Polk showed up 10 pounds lighter and ran a nice 40 time. He looked above average as a pass receiver, and his overall performance should have mitigated the damage done at the Senior Bowl.

Polk had a strong 2011 season. He rushed with good vision, cutting ability and hits the hole quickly. Polk is good at running behind his pads and powering through defenders. Washington had a subpar offensive line, and if Polk had better blocking, he could have even better numbers. The benefit to that line was that the 5-foot-11, 222-pounder is a very patient runner who knows how to put defenders on blockers.

In 2011, Polk ran for 1,488 yards (5.1 average) and 12 touchdowns. He also snagged 31 passes for 332 yards and four scores. Polk ran well against Stanford, one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. He had 144 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns versus the Cardinal.

At his pro day Polk measured in at 5-10 (1/2) and 212 pounds, three pounds lighter than he'd weighed at the Combine and 12 pounds lighter than he was at the Senior Bowl. The loss of weight was noticeable in the running back's time in the 40-yard dash and his explosiveness in positional drills. Polk was credited with an "official" 4.57 second time at the Combine but came in at between 4.45-4.49 in his first attempt and 4.48-4.51 in his second. Polk also posted 16 reps on the bench press. He caught passes out of the backfield, demonstrating the soft, reliable hands and route-running ability that I believe is his most underrated quality and why the Washington running back remains in the hunt (along with Boise State's Doug Martin, Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Miami's Lamar Miller) to be the second back selected in the 2012 draft.

2011 First Team All-Pac-12. … Leaves as the second all-time leading rusher in Huskies history with 4,049 yards in 40 games. He is behind only Napoleon Kaufman (4,106) on the school's career rushing list. Polk's 799 career carries and average 101.2 rushing yards per game are school records.

My Opinion: Polk is not as muscular as I would have thought. He is a physical back with a long medical history. He didn't have good numbers in the vertical or broad. He had a surprising slow 40 time, it looked like he gave up the last 10 yards. Has good hands and OK footwork. Nothing about him looks fast. He is very physical, lowers the shoulder often. He is hard to bring down, will bust arm tackles. Definitely not a dancer, a banger. He needs work on his blocking. He is a good fighter, fights for extra yards. Not fast or explosive on film.

Polk is definitely a 3rd round prospect and not the same type of potential as Miller or Martin. He doesn't have the feet of Martin or the speed of Miller. Add to the fact that he has a long medical history and is a banger I say we stay away from him.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
Height: 6-0. Weight: 218.
40 Time: 4.50. Official: 4.49 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.52.
3 Cone Drill: 7.07 secs.
20 YD shuttle: 4.28 secs
Bench: 17 reps.
Vertical: 36.5. Broad: 10-3. 123 inch.
Arm Length: 31 1/2 inch.
Hand Size: 9 1/4 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4

Pierce is an early-entry junior out of Temple who had a very productive career. He is an athletic back who had a tough time staying healthy at Temple, which could be a concern for teams looking to take him in the middle rounds. He has good vision and can cut back across the field when jammed up. He isn't very powerful and likely would excel working within a zone-blocking offense in which he can take one cut and go. He has middle-round value and could go as high as the third if he continues to showcase his athleticism.

A three-year starter, Pierce was a lightly recruited running back out of high school with Temple as one of his only FBS-level scholarship offers. He burst onto the scene in 2009 as a true freshman (9 starts), finishing with a school freshman record 1,361 yards on 236 carries (5.8) and 16 touchdowns, earning conference Freshman of the Year and First Team All-MAC honors. He was hyped as a Heisman candidate in 2010 as a sophomore, but battled injuries with only five starts, recording 728 yards on 154 attempts (4.7) and 10 scores, earning First Team All-MAC honors. Pierce had his most productive season in 2011 as a junior (10 starts), finishing with a conference-best 1,481 yards on 273 carries (5.4) and a school-record 27 touchdowns, earning First Team All MAC honors. He decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Pierce was extremely productive at Temple the last three seasons with 18 career 100+ yd performances and was a touchdown machine with a school-record 53 career rushing scores, led the MAC in rushing twice (2009 & 2011) and was a First Team All-Conference performer each of the past three years. He fights for every yard and will lower his pads before contact, but isn?t a power back and runs too upright, needs to be more active as a receiver out of the backfield.

Pierce is a bit tight and lacks the explosive speed to be a consistent home run threat at the next level, but he has very quick feet with a great feel for the position between the tackles and in space. He has very good vision and patience to pick through defenses, but has strong durability concerns for the next level and it's tough to imagine him staying healthy for a full NFL regular season, looks like a borderline starter in the NFL.

Pierce is an upright, one-cut runner who has a good feel for working between the tackles. He is able to get a natural lean to cut up and avoid trash at the point of attack, and does a good job of bracing for contact to deliver blows. He is a natural mover in short areas who is capable of being productive in the right scheme. He can elude in space and has a feel for getting to daylight.

Pierce won't be capable of many big-time plays due to his average speed, a trait that is usually sought-after for upright zone runners. He struggles to recognize blitzers and has a tough time with knee bend.

Strengths: Possesses a bigger frame with a strong, compact build, has done a nice job adding bulk to his frame the past three years. Flashes initial burst and good lateral quickness to sidestep defenders or bounce runs outside with very good foot quickness. An instinctive runner with elusive, slippery moves with the first defender rarely bringing him down in space. Displays very good feel as an inside and outside runner with above average vision to make sharp cuts, very good patience and footwork to pick through defenses. A physical runner who doesn't shy from contact, doing a nice job lowering his pads and absorbing contact with balance, fights for every yard with toughness to run through arm tackles. Put together a strong collegiate r,sum, the past three seasons with above average production, holds school single-season records for rush scores (27) and 100-yd rush games (9), plus career record for rush scores (53).

Weaknesses: A tall, upright runner who lacks imposing power as a runner. Not a quick-twitch athlete and is forced to gear down too much. Not very loose throughout his frame and looks tight when quickly redirecting. Lacks great straight-line speed and might struggle to win the edge at the next level, lacking an extra gear to separate himself. Tends to dance too much and go east/west or leave his feet instead of taking what's there. Has some ball security concerns and offers limited versatility at the next level with little experience as a receiver (only 19 career catches) and as a return man (only 1 career return on special teams), raw in pass protection and needs work in this area. Took a beating in college and has strong durability concerns, missing several games over his career and didn't look 100% most of his career, missed extensive time with hamstring issue and also a concussion.

NFL Comparison: Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints

Pierce had a solid performance at the Combine to help his stock. He was putting together a massive junior season before injuries slowed him down in November. Pierce still ran for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2011. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and beat up on some weaker competition. It was disappointing for Pierce's draft stock to see him produce only 50 yards against his best opponent, Penn State. He also had a concussion and that can be a scary injury for talent evaluators. Pierce is not very fast, but he can pound the ball between the tackles.

Pierce, who is expected to be drafted in the middle rounds, is a one-cut-and-go type of runner who isn't seen as possessing top-end speed. He put up a respectable 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds in February, but that was one of several things he wanted to improve on at his pro day. Despite Friday morning's damp conditions, Pierce unofficially cracked 4.4. "Speed, and it's also another chance to show everybody I can catch the ball," Pierce said. "A lot of people before the combine were talking about how I was a low 4.6, high 4.5 guy. Hopefully, I shaped some of the coaches' views." Pierce added that his nerves have flared a bit with April's draft approaching. He is trying to avoid listening to any of the talk about when his name will be called. "I wouldn't say I'm excited. It's more of an anxious feeling," he said. "It's a dream come true. I've always wanted to play in the NFL. Now it's just a waiting game, so anxiety takes over every day."

My Opinion: He has a solid strong frame. His legs look a little thin but he displayed good power in the vertical and broad. He has OK footwork but that needs some work. He is a decent catcher of the ball. He has had some injury problems in that past. He is a physical back and he has OK vision. He can pick up the tough yards. He runs a little upright and seems a little hesitate at the line, he needs to explode into that hole. Has some moves and can make a guy miss but likes to lower the shoulder as well. He is not a dancer. He is a plugger that can run between the tackles. He doesn't appear fast but he takes his time, finds a hole then shifts a gear. Always seems to be picking up yards.

Pierce us a later round guy that has some ability. His injury history makes me hesitated on picking him but something about him had me saying 'special' in the back of my mind. I could just be going crazy...

Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
Height: 5-10. Weight: 222.
40 Time: 4.44. Official: 4.50 secs
3 Cone Drill: 7.16 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 4.31 secs.
Bench: 28 reps.
Vertical: 36. Broad: 10-2. 122.0 inch.
Arm Length: 31 inch.
Hand Size: 9 3/4 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 4-6.

Turbin has been a productive back, consistently rushing for over 100 yards per game. Good size. He remains a bit of an unknown, but should excite throughout the pre-draft process with his athletic ability and could go as early as the second round.

A powerfully built back with much better acceleration and natural running skills than you'd expect given his size, Utah State's Robert Turbin exploded in 2011 for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns. His spectacular junior season earned him the 2011 Western Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year award and helped lead the Aggies to their first bowl appearance since 1997.

Turbin is far from just a one year wonder, however. His 2011 season, in fact, is all the more impressive considering that he missed the entire 2010 season with a torn ACL. Turbin demonstrated future NFL-caliber talent early on, rushing for 499 yards and a team-leading eight touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and catching the attention of NFL scouts a year later with an eye-popping 18 touchdowns and 1,296 rushing yards in just 11 starts a year later.

Though characterized throughout the year as a junior, Turbin had technically used up his eligibility once the 2011 season ended. Therefore he was not among the 65 underclassmen recognized by the NFL as having left college early for the NFL. His eligibility for the 2012 draft, however, is not in question nor is his talent. Though questions about his durability and level of competition could push him into the draft's third day, Turbin's surprising combination of power, burst and reliability as receiver and blocker could make him a candidate for early and significant playing time as a rookie.

Turbin is very athletic. Has the size to be a thumper inside, but moves more like a shifty, quick back. Has very quick feet that he employs to stop and start instantaneously out of the backfield. Has a big frame that gets to full speed fast. A classic downhill runner who can run through linebackers and carry the pile. Was a threat throughout his career in the pass game. Has the speed, athleticism, and durability to wear down an NFL defense for an entire game.

The only thing that could keep Turbin off the field for an NFL offense early is his pass blocking. At Utah State, Turbin would whiff on blockers at times. The problem is his technique; he tends to get off balance and blown back into the passer. Cut blocks were an issue for him as well.

Strengths: Possesses good burst to and through the hole. A patient runner with good vision and burst for the cutback. Squares his shoulders and can knock the defender back onto his heels. Good leg drive and forward lean to gain extra yardage after contact. Shows a surprising burst to beat linebackers to the edge. Can plant his foot in the ground and explode, showing better straight-line speed than you'd expect for a back of his size. Shows good hands and concentration as a receiver. Looks natural catching the ball. Cognizant and physical pass blocker who will square up the hard-charging linebacker in the hole to buy his quarterback time. Possesses a short, squatty frame conducive to tough inside running. Dedication to the weight room is obvious based on an upper body build as impressive as any running back in the country (with the possible exception of Alabama's Trent Richardson) …

Weaknesses: Possesses surprising burst for a back of his build but despite some long runs over his career has limited straight-line speed and can be caught from behind. Is much more explosive in his upfield burst than laterally, especially following the 2010 season in which he tore his ACL. Is a bit top-heavy. Possesses broad shoulders and a heavily muscled up upper-body but only average base. Durability concern. Missed the entire 2010 season with the torn ACL and redshirted in 2007 wih a foot injury, each of which will require a closer look by team doctors at the Combine. Questionable level of competition …

Turbin is a sleeper prospect who has some speed and is extremely strong. He showed that off with good speed and strength at the Combine. In 2011, Turbin averaged 6.1 yards per carry with 1,517 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. He caught 17 passes for 171 yards and four scores as well. In 2009, Turbin broke out with 1,296 yards and 13 touchdowns. He missed the 2010 season because of an injury. Turbin is put together well and is an elusive runner.

My Opinion: He has had a torn ACL, that is a big flag to me. Turbin has a massive torso, his shoulders are huge! His legs are pretty solid too. He reminds me of Michael Pittman with how big his arms are. He is an OK catcher of the ball and has decent footwork. He is pretty quick back when in space but it takes him time to whine up to speed. He won't be able to run away from defenses in the NFL. He is very physical, will lower the shoulder and run between the tackles. Does dance a little in the backfield. He has some moves to make a guy miss. Always keeps the legs pumping for extra yards. He is not overly explosive, he likes to pick his gaps. He needs work on his blocking.

Turbin I think should be a later round pick. He is more of a power back and has some Marion Barber to his game. Not sure he is the type of back we are looking for and I think he will probably be over drafted anyway.

Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss
Height: 5-11. Weight: 222.
40 Time: 4.56. Official: 4.66 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.59.
3 Cone Drill: 6.96 secs.
20 YD Shuttle: 4.44 secs.
Bench: 21 reps.
Vertical: 38 inch. Broad: 9-11. 119 inch
Arm Length: 32 1/4 inch.
Hand Size: 10 inch.
Projected Round (2012): 6-7.

It would be easy to dismiss Bolden on character concerns, but looking past those issues leaves you a talented, athletic prospect with early-round potential. Bolden has a slasher-type style and has been productive against top competition for Ole Miss. He has had team suspension issues in the past, and sometimes looks undisciplined in his play. Once he has the ball in his hands, however, he is a smooth and effective runner who is a fourth-round talent capable of breaking a big play on any touch.

In a conference blessed with Trent Richardson (Alabama), Michael Dyer (Auburn), Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina) and Knile Davis (Arkansas), among other NFL prospects, it is easy for Bolden to get lost in the shuffle.

He won't however, with NFL scouts. Quite frankly, he shouldn't with fans and the media, either, especially considering his breakout junior campaign in which he rushed for 976 yards, caught 32 passes for 344 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, tying former New Orleans Saints' standout Deuce McAllister for the most in school history.

An all-purpose back strong enough to churn out the tough yardage inside, as well as beat defenders to the edge, Bolden is one of the top senior backs in the country and a potential Top 100 prospect for the 2012 NFL draft.

Bolden is a powerful runner who not only can break through arm tackles, but usually will run through the first defender. He is decisive to hit the hole as an inside runner and is patient for his blocks to develop. He can get low and hide behind blockers before sticking his foot in the ground to either move hard laterally or up the field to burst through to the second level. He looks good when initiating a hard drop step to bounce outside, and once there can outrun defenders to the perimeter. Bolden is reliable both in taking care of the ball and gaining yards with power or speed.

Most concerns about Bolden surround his past suspensions and not his ability to carry the ball. Although he is big and physical, he can look haphazard at times when pass protecting; this facet of his game needs to improve before he sees a lot playing time early in his career.

Inside: Good size and strength as an interior runner. A bit indecisive. Will attack the hole when he sees it, but too often bounces it outside, looking for the 40 yard run when sometimes he should be satisfied with getting the four. Runs low with good knee bend through the hole, but stands up as gets to the second level, exposing himself (and the ball) to hits. Willing to lower his shoulder and shows good leg drive to get the tough yards, but doesn't always play with the physicality you're looking for. Has good vision and shows some lateral agility to elude, though he isn't a nifty back capable of making defenders miss in tight quarters.

Outside: Doesn't wow you with his speed to the edge, but has sneaky speed to and around the corner, consistently beating linebackers to the spot. Can plant his foot in the ground and accelerate quickly. Capitalizes on lanes when they're there and shows more burst and the straight-line speed to pull away than you'd expect for a back of his size (LSU).

Breaking tackles: Runs hot and cold in this area. Is a powerfully built back (especially in his upper body) who can lower his shoulder and bring the boom to run through would-be tacklers. Also has a stiff-arm and a spin move to slip past defenders. At his best when near the goal-line, as he seems to be a more determined runner and keeps his legs churning upon contact. Doesn't always seem to play with the same intensity, however, and appears to have only average balance, overall.

Blocking: Does a serviceable job as a pass blocker. Was often asked to stay in and provide a chip block with a running threat in Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback last year. Recognizes the blitz and steps up to it, though rather than physically taking on and controlling the pass rusher, Bolden often will drive low, taking out the legs. His blocks are usually effective, but high-effort pass rushers can beat him with quick hands or simply by picking themselves up after the initial block to get back into the play.

Receiving: Among his better skills. Shows soft hands out of the backfield and the flexibility to turn his body, receive the swing/screen pass and accelerate with no wasted motion. Shows some versatility as a route-runner, including the ability to challenge down the sideline on the wheel route.

Intangibles: Received the Jeff Hamm Award for Most Outstanding Offensive Player during spring (2011) drills. Served as a gunner on punt coverage in 2010. Bolden requested a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee after his junior season but elected to return for his senior season after receiving a Day Three grade.

Bolden had a solid performance at the Combine with quality numbers. He injured his ankle in the Rebels' season-opening loss to BYU, picking up only four carries for 21 yards in that contest. Bolden missed a game because of that injury, plus had other injuries throughout year. He ran for a total of 472 yards on 96 carries and four touchdowns this season.

My Opinion: Bolden's character concerns are a big red flag. He has failed multiple drug tests. Bolden has a solid frame, good hands and good footwork. Runs around faster than you would have thought with his 40 time. He had a HUGE vertical jump. I could not find any tape on this guy. But the character concerns and commitment issues will mean that he drops into the later rounds. I will say this, he looks faster than he was timed.

Big Backs and Fullbacks

Terrance Ganaway, RB/FB, Baylor
Height: 6-0. Weight: 239.
40 Time: 4.63. Official: 4.67 secs. 10-Yd Split: 1.58.
3 COne Drill: 7.15 secs
20 YD Shuttle: 4.25 secs.
60 YD Shuttle: 11.65 secs
Vertical: 37.5 inch.
Broad: 119.0 inch.
Arm Length: 31 5/8. Hand Size: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 3-5.

Ganaway has been a nice supplementary asset to the Baylor offense. He had an impressive showing against Washington in a bowl game and showed why he is more than just an afterthought to Robert Griffin III in Baylor's offense. While he may have benefited from the holes that his Heisman-winning quarterback and top-wide receiver prospect (Kendall Wright) opened up for him in the run game due to their stellar pass play, Ganaway is a legitimate prospect in his own right. He shows good initial quickness, a burst through the line, and seriously imposing size that give him fourth- or fifth-round value.

Ganaway was a two-star running back recruit out of high school, choosing Houston over Rice and SMU. He saw action in 2007 as a true freshman, recording 550 yards on 109 attempts (5.0) and 6 touchdowns. After the death of his mother (kidney cancer), Ganaway left Houston and enrolled at Texarkana College (TX), taking a year off from football. Ganaway was lured back to the sport by Baylor head coach Art Briles, who was his head coach at Houston in 2007. He enrolled at Baylor in 2009 and saw time as a back-up as a sophomore, finishing with 200 yards on 68 carries (2.9) and 5 scores. Ganaway was again a reserve in 2010 as a junior, recording 295 yards on 46 rushes (6.4) and 2 scores. He had his best season in 2011 as a senior starter (12 starts), finishing with a conference-best 1,547 yards on 250 carries (6.2) and 21 touchdowns, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors.

Ganaway has good size with a powerful, filled-out frame, but needs a few steps to reach his top-end speed, strong, one-cut downhill runner with build-up speed. He has a sketchy background, but showed consistent improvement throughout his career and earned his way, mature and football-focused. Despite a highly productive senior season, Ganaway looks like nothing more than a short-yardage back with limited burst and speed to do much past the line of scrimmage, a mid-to-late round draft choice who needs to stay balanced and run with consistent power to hold down a roster spot in the NFL.

Ganaway is a huge back, and he plays that way. He is very quick out of his stance to hit the hole for such a big back, but he also shows the patience and savvy to let plays develop for him. Once to the hole he is good to make a guy miss or run through him, although he doesn't run with the power you'd expect out of a back his size. He is very reliable as a pass catcher and ran a lot of polished routes out of the backfield for RG3. He has the temperament of a special teams player and, given his strong ball security, could play early on, especially in short-yardage situations.

Ganaway is somewhat of a passive player for his size. Once through the hole, he doesn't look to deliver a blow that he could with his body. He can stutter step at times, too, waiting for plays to develop. He will need to hit the hole with more authority at the next level.

Strengths: Thickly-put-together throughout his frame and runs with power, showing the leg drive to push the pile. Runs balanced and close to the ground with the natural strength to stay on his feet through contact as defenders slip off of him, load to tackle and easily runs through arm tackles. Has good vision to find the hole and get north/south. Gets good initial push and always seems to be falling forward for a positive gain. A hard runner with a workhorse-type back mentality. Does a nice job picking up the blitz and using his frame to impede rushers. Earned the starting running back job as a senior and made the most of his opportunity, leading the Big 12 in rushing and finishing third in the NCAA with 21 rush scores, finished the season with six 100+ yard and three 200+ yard performances. Has good bloodlines as the nephew of former NFL defensive lineman Jeremiah Trotter.

Weaknesses: Poor acceleration and takes too long to get up to full speed, a slow starter with little burst to his game. Too hesitant when the hole isn't there and wastes time running laterally. Tight-hipped and doesn't show much wiggle or open-field shiftiness. Stops his feet too quickly and needs to consistently keep his legs moving through contact. Not overly physical for his size and won't run over defenders, doesn't break enough tackles. Will run with inconsistent pad level at times and struggle to get through the line of scrimmage at the next level. Needs to watch his weight and stay conditioned. Has limited experience catching the ball out of the backfield and needs to improve his technique in pass protection.

NFL Comparison: Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ganaway did not impress at the Senior Bowl. He looked slow and sluggish. At the Combine, his 40 time of 4.60 was better than expected, but Ganaway really struggled in the receiving drills. In college, he did not catch many passes and he will need to improve a lot in this area. Right now, Ganaway looks like a situational back in the NFL. If team wants him to play at fullback, he will need to be developed as a lead blocker and a receiver.

Some teams in the NFL could look at Ganaway as a fullback. For the Bears, he played running back and had a good senior season. Ganaway ran against very easy fronts because teams played the deep part of the field to try to limit quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Kendall Wright. Ganaway ran for 1,547 yards (6.2 average) and 21 touchdowns in 2011. He has a nice mix of size and speed to run through tackles and break off some long runs.

In the NFL, Ganaway could be a hybrid power back and fullback. He needs to improve on his receiving ability as he totaled only 12 receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown in his collegiate career.

Baylor Pro Day: Not to be lost in the day's events was the impressive performance by running back Terrance Ganaway, who ran his 40-yard dash times in the low 4.5's after running a 4.65 at the Combine. He also lifted 225-pounds 22 times on the bench and looked smooth catching the ball. After entering the season as an undrafted free agent prospect, Ganaway could be a top-125 draft pick next month.

My Opinion: Ganaway has a big powerful frame. He has good hands and decent footwork. He doesn't appear to be the fastest but he is a big dude. He is physical and he must run between the tackles because he is too slow to get to the outside. He can move the pile. Needs a lot of work on his blocking, he doesn't show much in this area. He doesn't make guys miss. He is a powerback. The one time he gets room he explodes through the hole and runs away from the defense, I would need to see more of this. I saw him do it another two times. Watch the video...did they replace him at half time because there was two totally different players out there?

Ganaway really surprised me. At first I thought he was a limited player that would only be a powerback at the next level, say a poor man's LenDale White. Then he explodes with long runs and beats the defense. No idea really...Put he probably doesn't fit the mold we are looking for a tailback and his blocking is poor therefore I don't see him as a fullback. This guy will be interesting to see what becomes of him.

Joe Halahuni, FB/HB, Oregon State
Height: 6-2. Weight: 255.
Projected 40 Time: 4.77.
Projected Round (2011): 6-7.

Halahuni had a quality senior season. He showed some skills as a receiver out of the backfield. Halahuni caught 31 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns in 2011.

One Beaver that spent the off-season transforming himself was H-back Joe Halahuni, who spoke to BeaverBlitz.com after his workout. Joe Halahuni shed nearly 20 pounds during his NFL training. Joe "The Tank" was almost unrecognizable. He shed nearly twenty pounds, shaved his head and grew a beard during his stint in training. "I worked out with a guy in Utah named Dave Stroshine and I also had a nutritionist," Halahuni said. They did a great job out there." When Halahuni left for training after the 2011 season, he weighed in at 258. Today he weighed 240. There is no 'official' stat keeper during Pro Day. Each scout keeps their own time, so many of the numbers that we have are unofficial times that were taken by Oregon State strength and conditioning coaches or the sports information department. Halahuni benched pressed 225 pounds 19 times and ran a 4.73 forty yard dash. He was very impressive in the 3 Cone Drill, clocking an unofficial 6.70 time which was the best of the group. "I did pretty well," he said. "I was looking to do a little better in some things, but overall I think it was a solid day."

My Opinion: Joe shed a lot of weight this offseason. I am unsure if he would be a fullback or a TE in the pros now. At 260ish he may have been a good fullback. But at 240 he would have to be more of a TE, in the Hernandez mold. That may just kill his NFL dream.

Cody Johnson, FB, Texas
Height: 5-11. Weight: 250.
Projected 40 Time: 4.72.
Projected Round (2012): 5-7.

Johnson was a four-star fullback recruit out of high school, choosing Texas over Texas A&M, LSU and Nebraska. After redshirting in 2007, he started a pair of games as a redshirt freshman in 2008, recording 338 yards on 76 carries (4.4) and a team-high 12 scores, tying Cedric Benson?s school freshman rushing touchdown mark. Johnson played in every game in 2009 as a sophomore, finishing with 335 yards on 87 rushes (3.9) and 12 touchdowns. He had his best rushing season in 2010 as a junior with two starts, recording a team-high 592 yards on 134 carries (4.4) and 6 scores. Johnson returned in 2011 and started a career-best nine games, but had his least productive season as a senior, finishing with 200 yards on 48 rushes (4.2) and 6 touchdowns, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors.

Johnson was Texas leading rusher in 2010 with seven games of 10+ carries, but was more of a traditional fullback in 2011 as a senior with his lowest career production. He is thickly-built with natural bulk and body mass on his frame, tightly-wound, but moves well for an athlete over 250-pounds. Johnson is a physical, tough short-yardage back with the physical nature to pick up tough yards, but needs to improve his technique as a blocker if he wishes to stick as a pro, late round, smash-mouth fullback who will be limited at the next level.

Strengths: Thickly-bodied athlete with solid girth on his frame, natural size and carries his weight well. A physical runner and tough finisher with very good leg drive to push the pile. Looks for contact, running with power and low pad level, bulldozing runner and looks to run over defenders. Seeks contact as a lead blocker and exhibits very good toughness. Was the team's leading rusher in 2010 and tallied 345 rushes over his career, seeing time as the team's primary running back at times, ran a lot of wildcat and racked up 36 career touchdowns. He is a vocal leader, uplifting his teammates on and off the field.

Weaknesses: Poor top-end speed and won't be able to run away from defenders at the next level, lacks the long speed to be anything but a short-yardage guy. Not overly explosive and is straight-linish, showing stiffness in his hips with limited change of direction ability as a runner and blocker, won't make defenders miss. Needs to improve his technique as both a run blocker and pass protector, unrefined and relies on his natural size. Tends to lunge and leave his feet when attempting to block moving targets. Doesn't have a lot of experience catching the ball out of the backfield (only 12 career catches). Scored two-thirds on his career TD total in his first two seasons and set career-lows in rushing as a senior despite nine starts (only one game with double-digit carries in 2011), didn't fully capture opportunities to be the bell-cow runner for the Longhorns and watched his production decline.

NFL Comparison: Anthony Sherman, Arizona Cardinals

Johnson couldn't participate in an All-Star game because of an injury. He also didn't work out at the Combine. Johnson did a superb job of lead blocking in 2011. He had 48 rushes for 200 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson had one reception for four yards. In the NFL, he should have the ability to contribute as a short-yardage back in power formations while also being a starting fullback.

My Opinion: The prototypical fullback. I couldn't find any tape on him but I have a feeling he could be the one.

Another group of prospects all done ~ Aussie.


  1. Well that was a long one.

    For the workhorse backs I would look at Doug Martin and Lamar Miller. Miller has more potential but Martin could be dangerous, just not a fan of his speed.

    The two small guys I like are Isaiah Pead and Cyrus Gray.

    Bernard Pierce is my sleeper

    And Cody Johnson for FB.

  2. I like Martin and think he could be a decent pick at #25. Turbin would be alright too. Or any of the big backs you listed.

  3. Turbin I think is a little overrated and there are better backs available.

    Martin I like, he is probably the most ready back for the NFL behind Richardson. I am just worried that he isn't very fast or explosive. He just bounces around making guys miss for extra yards. I don't know how much of that he can do in the pros and he probably will never be able to carry the load himself. Plus adding the extra 10 pounds for the combine has me worried. Is the small back on tape what you getting in the pros. This was the case with Knowshon, got to big for the combine and has struggled ever since. So I say no at 25# he doesn't have that kind of talent or upside.

    I am thinking Brockers, Still, Jeffery, Hill and some corners at 25#. Plus probably a guy that may drop, say kuechly and richardson if they drop. If Richardson gets past 15 we will move up and take him.

    Also interesting Julius Thomas had surgery on that troublesome ankle last week.

  4. IDK why this rotoworld didn't show up on the left.
    Broncos LG Chris Kuper (broken leg) "could" be ready for training camp.
    All this means is that Kuper has yet to suffer a setback after breaking his leg in Week 17 last season, as coach John Fox said in January he wasn't "closing the door" on Kuper being ready for camp. The Broncos could be forced to start Manuel Ramirez or a draft pick if Kuper isn't ready for Week 1.

  5. On the left? Or do you mean the right? The rotoworld thing has been playing up, this is due in part I think to rotoworld changing some of there systems, it seems to be working now.

    I read that about Kuper earlier in the week and hope it is due. Kupe is a really good guard. Hopefully we won't start Ramirez. We will either get a cheap vet to fill in or pick a young guy late in the draft to develop or maybe both.

    But I do think Kuper will be ready for week one of the season, I doubt he misses that. Whether he is the same player or not is the real question.