1. Ryan Matthews Fres St – I’ve been a Matthews fan since he tore up a tough Boise St. defense in their 2009 matchup. BSU drove LeGarrette Blount to the point of criminal insanity. Matthews, meanwhile, tore off 3 TD runs of over 60 yards. He had over 1800 yards on the season. I like CJ Spiller too, but to me, Matthews is more LaDanian Tomlinson than Spiller is Chris Johnson. Maybe I’m wrong. The good thing about elite RBs is that we should find out fairly soon.
2. CJ Spiller Clem – He’s not Chris Johnson. But he’s not Reggie Bush either. Spiller is the most versatile RB in 2010, a threat to score in multiple ways. I like him a lot, and I feel he will be off the board before Matthews. I just think Matthews is more of the traditional 20 carry a game back. Both guys will enjoy long-term success.
3. Toby Gerhart Stan – As a Browns fan, I know he’s not Tommy Vardell. That’s too simple. White guys from Stanford are not all alike. Toby has better speed than Tommy. And better production. His coach even raves about Gerhart’s pass-catching skills. Look beyond the stereotypes of the white RB. Gerhart is a 1000 NFL rusher and a premiere athlete (he played CF for Stanford’s baseball team). Some team will be very happy with him.
4. Jonathan Dwyer GT – He’s a bruiser and he’s somewhat slow. His positive test for ADHD medication shouldn’t hurt his stock. The system in which he played in college may though. There are doubts about whether or not he is shifty enough to be effective. In today’s two-back-system NFL, Dwyer has a place.
5. Ben Tate Aub – I’ve heard that he runs too tall. I’ve heard that he might be fumble prone. I see him as an underrated runner who shined in his bowl game and who took advantage of his off-season workouts. I think Tate is a hidden gem in this draft class. He will likely go in round two.
6. Montario Hardesty Tenn – I’d have him ahead of Tate if not for injury concerns. But Hardesty did log over 500 career carries at Tenn despite an ACL tear in 2005. He has good size and terrific speed for his build. Even though he’s a RB I see his injury history as less of a concern than…
7. Jahvid Best Cal – Those concussions scare me and I guarantee they scare every NFL personnel guy. Concussions are a hot-button issue and, unfortunately for Best, he suffered one of the nastiest concussions I’ve seen in a while. One nasty hit and his career could be over before it begins.
8. Lonyae Miller Fres St – He would have started if not for my favorite, Matthews. He’s more of a complimentary back. But as I said before, the NFL is a two-back league. I think of Matthews and Miller as sort of a poor man’s Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. But without the hype.
9. James Starks Buf – I think Starks would be higher if not for his season-ending 2009 shoulder injury. He’s had an excellent offseason to spring him into my top 10.
10. Joique Bell Wayne St – His relatively slow 40 times have soured some scouts, but his production (albeit at a small school) was through the roof. Bottom line is I like him, and at this point, it’s kind of a toss-up.
Guy who never lived up to his ability: Joe McKnight USC – touted as “the next Reggie Bush” at USC but he couldn’t match the hype. But he was productive as a Jr. and he has speed to burn.
Two more small school studs: Deji Karim S Ill – Surprising speed and big time numbers in 2009.
Pat Paschall NDSU – I saw this guy in the East-West Shrine game and he impressed me with his tough running.
Two guys I’d steer clear of: Andre Dixon UConn – Has some off-the-field concerns but runs with great toughness.
LeGarrette Blount Ore – Some brave team will take a chance on this character concern. He could be a steal if he keeps his head on straight. Or he could…well, ask Byron Haut.<!--EndFragment-->