1) Bishop Sankey, Washington Huskies
Career Stats: 644 Attempts, 3496 Yards, 5.43 YPC, 37 TDs, 67 Catches, 567 Yards, 1 TD
Weight: 209 lbs.
40 Time: 4.49 seconds (1.59 10-Yard Split)
This really is not a deep class of running backs, but there are couple of intriguing prospects this year. Leading the pack is Bishop Sankey, who has served as the focal point of the Washington offense for the last two years. Despite defenses often selling out to stop him, Sankey often played very well against even the toughest opponents. Sankey has good vision both behind the line of scrimmage and in the open field. He does a good job of letting blocks develop in front of them and then has a pretty good burst through the hole. Sankey doesn't have top end speed, but he does possess a lot of open field moves that help him pick up additional yardage. He maintains good balance on spins and in his lateral movements, allowing him to start back up again with little effort. Sankey has also shown that he can make catches out of the backfield. His total receptions isn't eye popping, but he does have good hands and again can make people miss tackles in the open field. Sankey would be well served if he could work on his straight line speed to get it down into the low or mid 4.40s. He's also going to need to work on his pass rush protection if he wants to stay on the field for three downs.
2) Tre Mason, Auburn Tigers
Career Stats: 516 Attempts, 2979 Yards, 5.77 YPC, 32 TDs, 19 Catches, 249 Yards, 1 TD
Weight: 207 lbs.
40 Time: 4.50 seconds (1.50 10-Yard Split)
Mason is probably the most well known of the running back prospects because of a late season surge that put him in Heisman contention. Mason had an incredible three game stretch at the end of the season that really showcased his abilities. Mason is a bit of a smaller back, but he runs with excellent pad level and has powerful driving legs. He also has good vision and is able to read his blocks and hit the hole from the moment it develops. Mason has a bit more of an explosion when he makes his burst through the hole, but he also lacks the top end speed to avoid getting caught from behind on long runs. His low center of gravity makes him very difficult to arm tackle either in the box or in the open field. This also allows him to pick up additional yards when he is hit behind the line of scrimmage. This also makes up for his lack of finesse in the open field. Unlike Sankey, Mason really only possesses a spin move kind of like Eddie Lacey that he can use to break the tackle of a corner or safety. Like Sankey, however, he is also going to need to improve his overall play if he wants to be a three down back. His pass protection is more adept, but he is not a true threat out of the backfield like other backs in this draft.
3) Carlos Hyde, Ohio State Buckeyes
Career Stats: 523 Attempts, 3198 Yards, 6.11 YPC, 37 TDs, 34 Catches, 271 Yards, 4 TDs,
Weight: 230 lbs.
40 Time: 4.66 seconds (1.65 10-Yard Split)
Carlos Hyde would probably by higher on this list if his numbers weren't so pedestrian at the Combine. Neither of his times were particularly terrible, but they are going to remind scouts of the stereotypical Big 10 plodding running back. Its pretty obvious from his size and measurables that Hyde isn't going to burn many people with his speed. However, he does have a decent burst when he gets to the next level. What Hyde
4) Lache Seastrunk, Baylor Bears
Career Stats: 289 Attempts, 2189 Yards, 7.57 YCP, 18 TDs, 9 Catches, 107 Yards, 1 TD
Weight: 201 lbs.
40 Time: 4.51 seconds (1.56 10-Yard Split)
This may sound a bit contradictory, but Seastrunk would actually benefit from being a bit more impatient when he is behind the line scrimmage. Seastrunk probably is the most talented overall back in this draft, but this is one of the main things that is holding him back. He has a tendency to wait behind the line of scrimmage and not just make due with what the offensive line is giving him. He often reverses field which does not fly as well in the NFL and will try and bounce it outside rather than just hit the hole and pick up minimal yards. A 4.51 40 yard dash isn't really slow, but he was recruited by Oregon and had boasted elite speed. Yet like I said, when he is in the open field he is incredibly shifty and moves his feet very quickly. Seastrunk could end up being a steal if he is still available in the late third or fourth round. There is no doubt that Seastrunk has the ability to take the ball to the endzone on almost any play. I was a little disappointed by his 40 time, but he is so elusive when he reaches the second and third level of the defense that it starts to make up for his perceived lack of speed. I think that he plays a lot faster than his clocked speed.
5) Jeremy Hill, Louisiana State Tigers
Career Stats: 345 Attempts, 2156 Yards, 6.3 YPC, 28 TDs, 26 Catches, 254 Yards, 0 TDs
Weight: 233 lbs.
40 Time: 4.66 seconds (1.56 10-Yard Split)
Hill is one of the more difficult prospects at this position to get a read on because of how his game tape looks compared to his Combine results and off the field incidents. While Hill's 40 time has a bit left to be desired, his split time was rather impressive, ranking higher than Sankey's. Hill isn't going dance around in the back a lot, nor is he going to wait too long to make his move upfield. He is very decisive behind the line and will hit the hole with a very quick burst during which he can be difficult to bring down. If he can learn to compress his size a bit through the line, he would avoid taking larger hits and wouldn't be exposing himself to fumbling as much. However, his burst through the hole into the second level when he makes his move is very explosive as he moves quickly with all that weight he carries. While Hill doesn't move around a lot in the backfield, he has surprising agility and footwork in the open field. He can make guys miss and his second gear is better than his Combine stats indicate. He does need to work on receiving and blocking assignments, but more importantly he needs to stay clean off of the field. Hill has good potential if he can improve his straight line speed and not dance around after sucker punching bar patrons.