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2013 DRAFT PREVIEW: RBs

Overview:  At least on paper it appears as if RB could be a real strength in 2013, but of course football is played on grass rather than paper and with injuries, off-field issues and the like the jury is still out on the position for the upcoming draft. South Carolina junior Marcus Lattimore, for example, looked very much like the best RB prospect to come along in a while, but tore an ACL mid-way through the season last fall and stuill isn't 100%. Meanwhile, at this time last year Knile Davis of Arkansas was considered to be the main threat to Alabama's Trent Richardson to be the first back off the board at the 2012 draft. However, while Richardson went on to be the 4th player selected this past April, Davis never played a down after breaking an ankle prior to the start of the campaign. Everything else being equal, both still figure to be first-round candidates for the upcoming draft, but not quite as high as originally projected. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Montee Ball, who had a Heisman worthy season last fall when he ran for over 1,900 yards and 33 scores, still hasn't been cleared for full contact after suffering a concussion when attacked on the street earlier this month. Unlike Lattimore and Davis, though, Ball, who isn't all that fast, is only rated as a mid-second day type prospect even when healthy. Same for rugged Alabama junior Eddie Lacy, who takes over from Richardson as Alabama's feature back this fall; Lacy, though, was hampered by a toe injury last season that required off-season surgery that forced him to miss spring practice. At the same time, several other prominent RB prospects including Pitt's Ray Graham and Christine Michael would probably also be in the second-day mix, but both are coming back from torn ACLs suffered last season.

Then there is the strange case of x-Auburn, x-Arkansas State junior Michael Dyer, one of the jewels of the 2010 recruiting class along with Lattimore who ran for over 2,300 yards in his first two years at Auburn, but abruptly transferred to Arkansas State in after being suspended indefinitely by the Tigers in Janaury. Dyer was then booted from the ASU team before ever playing a down for the Sun Belt champs for violating team rules amid rumors of drugs and guns. Dyer has considered transferring one more time to a lower level, but would need a waiver to play as a player must be enrolled at a D1A school for at least a year to be allowed to play immediately upon transferring to a lower level.  And if Dyer does ultimately end up transferring down, he wouldn't be the only former star D1A back to find himself playing at small-time program as Washaun Ealey, who started for two years at Georgia, will be carrying the mail at Jacksonville State this fall, while Marcus Coker, who ran for almost 1,400 yards at Iowa last fall, will be a junior at Stony Brook in 2012.

In fact, it appears that there could be a significant drop-off after the top half dozen or so guys at the position at the 2013 draft, although there should be some speed available at RB for NFL teams this coming April as second-tier backs like Andre llington of Clemson, Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle, and Oregon's Kenjon Barner have very good wheels. Meanwhile, veterans such as Rex Burkhead of Nebraska and Stanford's Stepfan Taylor have the potential to be useful complimentary backs at the next level.

Top 20 RB Prospects
#
Player
H/W
School
CL
#
Player
H/W
School
CL
1
Marcus Lattimore 5-11, 230 South Carolina JR
11
Ray Graham 5-9, 195 Pittsburgh SR
2
Knile Davis 6-0, 230 Arkansas SR
12
Kenjon Barner 5-10, 195 Oregonoston College SR
3
Montee Ball 5-10, 212 Wisconsin SR
13
D.J. Harper 5-9, 205 Boise State SR
4
Eddie Lacy 5-10, 220 Alabama JR
14
Spencer Ware 5-10, 225 LSU JR
5
Andre Ellington 5-9, 190 Clemson SR
15
Washaun Ealey 5-10, 225 Jacksonville State SR
6
Joseph Randle 6-0, 195 Oklahoma State JR
16
Marcus Coker 5-11, 230 Stony Brook JR
7
Michael Dyer 5-8, 210 x-Auburn JR
17
Stepfan Taylor 5-10, 210 Stanford SR
8
Gio Bernard 5-9, 205 North Carolina RSO 18
Rex Burkhead 5-10, 210 Nebraska SR
9
Cierre Wood 5-11, 215 Notre Dame JR
19
Johnathan Franklin 5-9, 205 UCLA SR
10
Christine Michael 5-10, 220
Texas A&M JR
20
Zach Line 6-0, 230
SMU SR

Sleeper file: Neither of Robbie Rouse of Fresno State nor Utah's John White is very big at barely 5-8, 185, but both are slippery scatbacks who ran for over 1,500 yards last fall. And with the arrival of Coker from Iowa, D1AA Stony Brook could have one of the best backfields in college football period with the former Iowa star sharing carries with Miquel Maysonet, a 205-pounder who ran for over 1,600 yards himself last fall. Meanwhile, other lower-level RBs to watch this fall include David Carter of Morehouse, Jordan Roberts of Charleston, Florida A&M's Al-terek McBurse, formerly of Purdue, and Daronte McNeill of Elizabeth City State, an East Carolina transfer.

Future file: College football hasn't lacked for good young runners in recent years, but the upcoming season could be something of an exception. However, there are some exceptions. Other juniors who could have an early impact at the upcoming draft, for example, include Silas Redd who bailed on Penn State in the wake of the sanctions handed the program as a result of the Sandusky scandal and ended up at Southern Cal where he can play immediately (ironically for a team that is just coming off a similar kind of probation, along with 240-pound Le'Veon Bell of Michigan State and James White of Wisconsin. Same for redshirt sophs Gio Bernard of North Carolina and former star USC recruit Dillon Baxter who will play for Baker, an NAIA school in Kansas. Meanwhile, the top sophomore backs in the country include Baylor's Lache Seastrunk, who transferred from Oregon, Texas' Malcolm Brown, former Georgia star Isaiah Crowell who will play at Alabama State, George Atkinson of Notre Dame, and Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, while Dee Hart of Alabama and Mike Holmes of Virginia Tech are intriguing redshirt freshman.

Fullbacks: FB has is generally something of an afterthought at the draft these days, however, there will be a number of good ones in college football this fall worth at least a look in the later rounds or as post-draft free agents including Zach Boren of Ohio State, North Carolina's Devon Ramsey, Braden Wilson of Kansas State, Georgia's Richard Samuel and Mike Zordich of Penn State. The top prospect at the position in the country, though, appears to be Oklahoma junior Trey Millard.

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