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2014 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports: Running Backs

February 5th, 2014 at 4:00 PM
By axr29

The NFL season is finally (and sadly) complete, so now it is officially time to discuss the offseason. Over the next few weeks, Giants 101 will provide draft rankings and scouting reports on all positions — not just the ones the New York Giants are looking to draft. The rankings are a combination of production, skill set, and potential at the NFL level. The second position we will take a look at is running back, a position that with or without David Wilson is a potential need for the New York Giants. This draft appears to be very deep in running backs, so the New York Giants should be able to grab a quality back in the later rounds.

Ka’Deem Carey, JR, Arizona

  • Good height, and bulked up from last year; above average speed.
  • Strong powerful runner who runs bigger than his size.
  • Excellent pass blocker; needs to improve on anchoring himself.
  • Maintains momentum well when making cuts; effective at using cuts to get out of traffic.
  • Displays good patience in waiting for blocks; however looks to cut back to quickly at times.
  • Above average at creating separation out of the back field; can create after the catch if put out in space.
  • Adjusts to throws well and has good body control when a receiver.
  • Explosive short bursts, but doesn’t have elite breakaway speed.

Bishop Sankey, JR, Washington

  • Average size and good speed; runs bigger than his listed 203 pounds.
  • Over 600 carries at Washington, wear and tear could be a concern.
  • Makes up for lack of height/weight with excellent leg strength.
  • Great field vision; ability to make something out of nothing when the run play breaks down.
  • Quick enough to get to the outside, but lacks home run hitter speed.
  • Able to change directions without slowing down/losing momentum; has the athletic ability to make man miss.
  • Good in pass protection; but relies too heavily on the chop block.
  • Excellent out of the backfield; possesses soft hands and great ball security in the open field.
  • Will be an effective three down running back in the NFL.
  • A player who can come in and start from day one; but it would be ideal if he added 5-10 pounds.

Charles Sims, SR, West Virginia

  • Above average size; below average speed.
  • Smooth and fluid enough to run to the outside; strong enough to run between the tackles.
  • Runs routes out of the back field like a wide receiver.
  • Excellent playmaker in the screen game; very Matt Forte like.
  • Excellent at recognizing cut back lanes; sometimes is impatient and cuts back too early.
  • Runs high at times, but consistently runs with forward lean allowing him fall forward most of the time when tackled.
  • Inconsistent in pass protection; needs to work on anchoring himself.
  • Tends to catch passes out of the backfield with his frame.
  • Several small injuries (hip, ankle), so durability could be an issue.

Marion Grice, SR, Arizona State

  • Average height and below average weight; Has the frame to put on weight and not affect his game.
  • Above average speed for the position; excellent athleticism.
  • Excellent in the return game; which he should get immediate reps at.
  • Effective running both inside and outside.
  • Quickly identifies holes and cutback lanes; excellent at waiting for his blocks to set up.
  • Sometimes can be too patient instead of just taking the yards in front of him.
  • Changes direction well and deceptive when in the open field.
  • Excellent in the passing game; excellent route running skills.
  • Soft hands; looks natural as a receiver.
  • Average in pass protection; has room for improvement there.
  • Needs to learn to run with a lower pad level, as he tends to run too high at times.
  • Won’t be a homerun hitter, but will be a very good three down running back who could challenge for a starting running back role his rookie year.

Carlos Hyde, SR, Ohio State

  • Good height, could afford to lose a little bit of weight; average speed for the position.
  • Very good burst to the hole and acceleration for a player his size.
  • Capable of running both inside and outside plays.
  • Runs with a good forward lean, falling forward when tackled.
  • Runs with a low pad level; a load for tacklers to bring down in the open field.
  • Athletic enough in the open field to make defenders miss.
  • Good receiver; secures ball and gets moving up the field quickly.
  • Very good in pass protection; willing blocker who maintains his assignment.
  • Off field character issues need to be looked into and he needs to show maturity.

Andre Williams, SR, Boston College

  • Excellent size; average speed for the position at the next level.
  • Frame and lower body strength allows him to excel running inside the tackles.
  • Runs with low pad level; runs with a forward lean which allows him to pick up extra yards falling forward.
  • Doesn’t have the wiggle in the open field to make a man miss but makes up for it with his strength.
  • Arm tackles won’t bring him down; runs violently with purpose.
  • Lacks flexibility to stop on a dime and change direction.
  • Not a factor in passing game; poor in pass protection and has a lot to learn.
  • Given his size and strength he has the potential to be solid in pass protection with the right coaching.
  • Deceptive long speed, but not the athlete to be a homerun hitter often at the next level.

Lache Seastrunk, JR, Baylor

  • Average size, could afford to get stronger; upper echelon top end speed.
  • Home run hitter; possesses top end speed on the outside.
  • Excellent vision and patience; excels at finding the cutback lanes.
  • Tough runner; has the ability to lower his shoulder and fight for extra yards.
  • Ball security is an issue; tends to carry the ball away from frame when trying to make a big play.
  • Excellent at starting and stopping, freezing defenders and creating open space to make plays.
  • Game breaking ability that will help his stock.
  • Nonexistent in the passing game; looks uncomfortable running routes.
  • Low center of gravity enables him to keep balance while making multiple cuts.
  • Anchors well in pass protection; needs to work on identifying blitzers.

Storm Johnson, JR, Central Florida

  • Great height and build with skills of a smaller player; upper echelon speed.
  • Strong enough to pick up the tough yardage inside.
  • Can lower shoulder and push defenders (2012 vs. Ohio State).
  • Quick, crisp cuts and the ability to explode out of the cut.
  • Exceptional lateral agility for a back his size.
  • Top end field vision and patience in setting up blocks.
  • Doesn’t possess top end hands, but when he catches the ball he can get in space and make plays.
  • Only one year as a starter, so doesn’t have as much experience as a feature back compared to some backs in the draft.
  • Inexperienced pass blocker; given his strength and size there is potential for him to be adequate.

Tre Mason, JR, Auburn

  • Below average height, but solid build to his frame; average speed.
  • Patient runner; excellent jump cut; excellent at waiting for his block.
  • Very good burst that maximizes running lanes.
  • Quick feet that allows him to change direction smoothly and pick up big chunks of yards.
  • Average pass protector.
  • Type of runner that gets teammates fired up.
  • Athletic ability makes him a weapon in the screen game.
  • Production might be driven by the system; but could find a productive role in an offensive system like Chicago.

De’Anthony Thomas, JR, Oregon

  • Below average height; elite game breaking speed.
  • Threat to score whenever he touches the ball, especially in return game.
  • Will used as an offensive weapon and should never be looked at to be the feature back.
  • Quick to the outside and even quicker when he gets turned up field.
  • Size makes him an ineffective pass blocker, shouldn’t be used in pass protection.
  • Athleticism allows him to make defenders miss in the open field; once he gets passed the second level it will be hard to catch him.
  • Ankle injury is a concern since his production is based on speed.
  • Carries the ball high and tight and has very good ball security.
  • Could play slot receiver in certain offensive game plans.

Isaiah Crowell, JR, Alabama State

  • Good size and weight; good but not elite speed for the position.
  • Runs with his eyes; excellent at setting up blocks and cutting back to avoid tacklers.
  • Electric player as a Freshman at Georgia before failing a drug test and getting kicked off the team.
  • Didn’t dominate against lower competition, but his athleticism gives him a super high ceiling.
  • Excellent decision making and vision; exhibits patience in waiting for his block committing to a crease no matter how small it appears.
  • Executes second level cuts like elite NFL running backs.
  • Strong stiff arm to ward off defenders; also has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
  • Probably the best pure runner in this draft class; wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn out to be the best.
  • Off the field issues are the only concern; need to see if he has matured and learned from his missteps.
  • If it wasn’t for off the field concerns he would be in the top three backs in the class.

Jeremy Hill, SO, LSU

  • Excellent size, but doesn’t have the speed ideal for a starting RB.
  • Natural inside runner; powerful runner.
  • Sets up blocks well for a player his size.
  • Strictly a power back with impressive acceleration for a player of his size.
  • Average receiver out of the back field, but possesses soft hands so there is the potential to be a solid receiver.
  • Off the field issues are a concern; has he matured?
  • Poor in pass protection; often looks lost.
  • Won’t offer much in outside running plays.
  • Leg strength allows him to push the pile and break arm tackles; runs too high at times.

James Wilder Jr., JR, Florida State

  • Excellent height and weight; very good speed for a guy his size.
  • Tough, powerful running; runs with reckless abandon and needs to learn how to pick his spots when lowering his shoulder to try to pummel defenders.
  • Agility is exceptional for a guy his size; core agility and balance is exceptional.
  • Hampered by a shoulder injury he suffered early in the year and lost carries to Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams.
  • Runs high; needs to learn to run with a lower pad level.
  • Good vision and patience; sometimes takes too long to find the hole.
  • Doesn’t have a home run second gear, but good enough burst to pick up chunks of yards.
  • Willing blocker; strength allows him to be effective.
  • Still raw as blocker, shows strong effort so has the potential to be strong in pass protection.
  • Not exceptional in the passing game, but could enough to be a factor.
  • Average route runner; seems to have consistent hands in the limited passes thrown his way.

Terrance West, JR, Towson

  • Good blend of height and weight; average speed for the position at the next level.
  • Ridiculous production; but done with a high workload against inferior competition.
  • Smart runner with very good patience and vision; quick to recognize cutback lanes.
  • Strong inside runner; finds his way through small holes.
  • Won’t be brought down by arm tackles.
  • Doesn’t have great acceleration; long speed is very good for a guy his size.
  • Lack of a passing game at Towson makes him raw in the passing game.
  • Ran okay routes and showed decent hands in limited opportunities.
  • Doesn’t have much experience in pass protection.
  • Good body control; knows how to angle his body to make tacklers miss.

Rajion Neal, SR, Tennessee

  • Average size and height; appears to run faster on tape than his listed 4.55.
  • Strong lower half that helps him eat up yards.
  • Runs with good pad level; shows the ability to drive to defenders to the ground with shoulder.
  • One cut and go on outside running plays.
  • A bit impatient at times; however gets moving north to south quickly.
  • Good lateral agility; lacks the open field wiggle to make defenders miss consistently.
  • Won’t be a home run hitter; will pick yards in 5-10-15 yard chunks.
  • Above average in the passing game; good separation for a running back.
  • Exceptional ball skills and body control when adjusting to throws.
  • Tough blocker in pass protection; willing to do the dirty work and protect the quarterback.
  • Won’t be able to make something out of nothing; likely fits better behind a ZBS offensive line.

Photo credit: Neon Tommy / Foter / CC BY-SA

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Tags: Andre Williams, Carlos Hyde, Football, Isaiah Crowell, James Wilder, Jeremy Hill, Lache Seastrunk, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Storm Johnson, Terrance West, Tre Mason

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7 Responses to “2014 NFL Draft Rankings and Scouting Reports: Running Backs”

  1.  BigBlueGiant says:

    Marion Grice went to ASU, not Arizona.

  2.  Vince says:

    I want James Wilder, Jr…..No matter that i’m a lifelong Miami Hurricanes fan. That guy is the real deal. Incredible ceiling. Athletic power back. Just what we need….Draft him!

  3.  fanfor55years says:

    Thank you axr and Dan for providing these for those of us who don’t see enough college ball to know much about these kids. Great job.

  4.  KingAndrewXXIII says:

    Outstanding piece, Anthony! You’ve done an excellent job with your pre-draft player analysis. I know that this team has several needs, but man…would I LOVE to have Carey. Kid reminds me of Shady. I know it won’t matter if the OL performs how it did this year, but I honestly think fixing the OL will be a priority…and that with improved playcalling, kid could be a star in our system. Of those above, I also really like Sims, West, Andre Williams, Mason and Storm Johnson. I honestly think that one of those will be available in the 4-5 round range…and would be a solid addition to our backfield.

  5.  JBeast3 says:

    I like Mason and Wilder jr but not before the third round at best

  6.  Kettles78 says:

    Really enjoyed this piece especially because of our need at the position. looking forward to more

  7.  BillyS says:

    I personally want Hyde because I feel he fits the team well. He’ll hit the hole without waiting or dancing around. He very rarely got taken down behind the line of scrimmage, plus he can catch the ball well enough to use him in the passing game. I think he’d offer terrific value.

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