Running back has seen its value go down almost every year in the draft. The NFL is a passing league and running backs must be top level prospects to get there name called on the first day. This Class isn’t filled with stars but there are still big names and valuable pieces that can be added. Here are my top 5 RB prospects for the 2016 NFL draft.
- Ezekiel Elliott: The Buckeyes’ running back has been pretty much unstoppable all year. He rushed for over 100 yards in every game except Michigan State, and added 19 TD’s on the year. He has also show the ability to catch the ball, possessing natural hands and polished routes out of the backfield. He has a great burst through the hole, and has demonstrated great open field speed throughout the year. Elliot does not really have any flaws in his game, but some teams might have character after back to back weeks where Elliot made comments about how little he touches the ball compared to other star running backs. I do not think this is a big deal and believe it will have no effect on his stock. Elliott should be first rounder and could become a very successful NFL starter as early as his rookie year.
- Derrick Henry: He may be this year’s Heisman, but he’s the second best running back prospect. Henry is a powerful runner with a big frame. He’s surprisingly light on his feet for someone of that size and his burst through the hole into the second level is great, and he has enough speed to break off long runs. Henry also does not waste anytime with the ball, it is almost always one cut and get down hill. Henry has also shown off a great ability to pick up the blitz and run block, giving him the potential to be an every down back. His only knocks are the struggles as a receiver, and his top heavy frame but if he develops his receiving game and stays low on runs he’ll without a doubt be a starter in the NFL.
- Devontae Booker: Even after getting hurt Booker has done enough to cement himself in the rankings. He went for over 1,200 yards and 11 TD’s on the ground even though he missed the last two games, and he also added over 300 yards through the air. Booker is a smaller sized prospect that thrives using quickness to break or avoid tackles. His ability to get yards after contact will diminish once he starts going against bigger more athletic players but he will still be able to gain yards. Although he does not look to have a starters skill set he could excel in a running back by committee situation once he gets to the NFL.
- Alex Collins: Collins has had an impressive season going for just under 1,400 rushing yards and 17 TD’s. Collins has nothing special about him as a prospect. He’s a downfield runner without elite speed or quickness and he is not an overly physical runner. He has shown he’s capable of making a contribution in the passing game, but not enough to be a receiving back. HE projects as a good all around backup in the NFL.
- Paul Perkins: Perkins is a great spread system runner. He is extremely shifty, showing the ability to bounce around the line looking for an open hole and he builds up to top speed almost instantly after bursting past the line. He has also shown the willingness to be a pass blocker which NFL teams will like. His biggest problem is that many teams think that he may be under 200 pounds making him useless when trying to block defensive lineman and linebackers at the NFL level. Perkins could develop as a receiving back and that’s his only real hope of seeing playing time in the NFL.