2013 NFL Draft: Updated Top Five Running Back Prospects

By on April 5, 2013



Running BacksAs we hit the month of April and with the 2013 NFL Draft only weeks away, there has been a lot of updated news on several key players who are ranked in this year’s top 5 class in their respected positions. Some players who had been falling after the Senior Bowl helped their stock at the Combine. While others who were ranked fairly low on most draft boards may have been pushed down even further due to the Combine numbers simply not being there.

The NFL is a very fickle beast. A draft prospect can sit at home, train and do all they can to prepare for their name to be called. But while they are away from the field, they will find their stock slowly rising or falling just because it can. Front offices and NFL experts alike gather as much film on every player and look for strengths and weaknesses during this down time. This film is key because it shows how a player reacts in certain situations, while also showing GMs and other front office officials certain tendencies that they may not have noticed before.

A sample of this takes us back to the 2005 draft. Between the Combine and the draft itself, Utah QB Alex Smith and Cal QB Aaron Rodgers were vying for the No. 1 spot. It was neck-and-neck for weeks. But as we got closer to the big weekend, Rodgers found his value falling as the days went by. Teams simply didn’t see him as a franchise quarterback at the next level. Once the 49ers picked Smith with their No. 1 overall pick that year, Rodgers fell all the way down to No. 25 and was taken by the Packers. But as we’ve seen many times, teams don’t always get it right. Several playoff appearances and a Super Bowl ring later, it’s clear the Packers got the better end of the deal.

Below are the updated top 5 in this year’s quarterback class. As you’ll see, this top 5 is much different from the top 5 I posted way back in the middle of February:

After reading my top 5 updated running back prospects, make sure to check out my top 5 updated quarterbacks who will be looking to make it big in 2013. And as always, make sure to visit ourcomprehensive NFL Coverage section.

1. Eddie Lacy – Alabama

UPDATE: Lacy was my No. 1 running back in February. And judging from several sites I looked at, it appears that he is still considered the top tailback, but his value could be slipping. After missing all Combine activities due to a partial hamstring tear during pre-Combine training, Lacy missed Alabama’s Pro Day due to “lingering” tightness in his hamstring and is now scheduled to work out April 11th. The latest on Lacy doesn’t bode well for his value. NFL Draft Insider’s Tony Pauline says frustration in the scouting community is “beginning to boil over” due to the fact that Lacy is “too injured to run or just too slow.” If Lacy doesn’t put up an A+ performance next week, he could see his stock tumble rapidly. See why George Banko still feels Lacy should still be considered the No. 1 running back drafted.

2. Giovani Bernard – North Carolina

(Formerly Joseph Randle – Oklahoma St.)
UPDATE: Both of Bernard’s 40 numbers were 4.50, but his value is creeping up. And he could be the one player to overtake Lacy if Lacy’s work out falls flat. A smallish running back at 5’8/202, Bernard still showed well in the other Combine tests. The National Football Post compared his workout to Ray Rice. As of this writing, the Cincinnati Enquirer believes the Bengals could draft Bernard with one of their two second-round picks. If that’s the case, Bernard would have a better than average chance at a big role behind plodder BenJarvus Green-Ellis

3. Montee Ball – Wisconsin

(Formerly Giovani Bernard – North Carolina)
UPDATE: A pure power back at the next level, Ball ran between 4.62-4.65 at the Combine, but improved to 4.57 at his Pro Day. Ball is intriguing since he has the size to make it as a starter in the NFL at 5’11/214, but he’d have to fall in the right situation to do so. Per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, one NFC scout believes Ball could step in immediately as a starter, but he would still only be worthy of a fourth-round pick at best.

4. Johnathan Franklin – UCLA

(Formerly Montee Ball – Wisconsin)
UPDATE: Franklin ran a 4.49 in the 40, but he could be one of the biggest surprises in the draft. Despite being another smallish back at 5’10/205, some believe he could have the intangibles to be a featured back in the NFL. Going back to NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline, some in the NFL are already comparing Franklin to a healthy version of Frank Gore. Pauline went further by saying Franklin could be a surprise pick late in the first round.

5. Andre Ellington – Clemson

(Formerly Stepfan Taylor – Stanford)
UPDATE: Around this spot is where is gets cloudy as to whom actually deserves to be No. 5. I’ve looked over several other rankings and it almost seemed no two were alike. Ellington, like Lacy, suffered a hamstring injury early in the offseason, but was able to put up a 4.51 at Clemson’s Pro Day. Like others above, Ellington’s relevance in the pros hinges on where he is drafted. He is believed to be in the 3rd-to-4th round range.

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