The NFL draft is just around the corner and no doubt your rookie draft is as well. There has been so much talk of this year's class of wide receivers and how they will stack up compared to last years. As well, the highly documented Wintson vs. Mariota debate also rages on. This year's running back class is also no slouch when it comes to top tier talent and depth. As the running back position becomes more devalued in the NFL, the implications they have to your fantasy team is still very much alive. Especially with the majority of teams moving to a running back by committee approach, it helps to secure that 3 down back in order to maximize your fantasy point scoring potential at the position. Here are my 5 top prospects that could become 3 down backs in the near future.
2015 Top 5 Rookie Running Backs
1. Melvin Gordon:
Gordon had one of the best college season of all time in 2014. He posted a whooping 2,587 rushing yards last year which was good enough for second all time in a single season. He finds himself behind only Barry Sanders at 2,628 yards, I'd say that's pretty solid company. Gordon has been solid in the injury department as well, and has hardly missed a game in his college career. He also comes without a lot of tread on his tires still as he backed up James White and Montee Ball in 2012. He does need some improvement in his pass protection and hasn't seen a lot of work as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He did average over 12 yards per catch in the second half of the regular season, albeit a mere 9 receptions, so perhaps it is something that the team who drafts him can expand on during the season.
2. Todd Gurley:
The only reason he is number 2 is because he is coming off of a torn ACL, which can be a concern for NFL teams as well as from a fantasy perspective. He has a bit of an injury history missing 3 games due to an ankle in 2013. However, when this guy is on the field he is hands down the best prospect in the draft. He is the perfect blend of power and speed and could easily be a top 5 fantasy running back next season if selected by the right team. This is the kind of talent we are talking about here. Early mocks have him possibly going to San Diego, Arizona, or even Dallas. If drafted by any of these teams and he can return to his pre-injury explosiveness, this guy could very well be your RB1 for years to come.
3. Jay Ajayi:
Ajayi is a quick and explosive runner who mashes the video game juke button to make guys miss. He totaled over 2000 yards last season and excels in the passing game. He caught 50 balls for 535 yards and 4 touchdowns while averaging 10.4 yards per catch. This guy can definitely be a 3 down back in the NFL. He can be hesitant at times at the line of scrimmage and not hit the hole with the burst you would like too see; but get the ball to this guy in space and he can pick up huge chunks of yards. He has the ceiling of a Jamaal Charles type player if picked up and utilized by the right team. He should go in the second round of the NFL draft and could turn into a steal for the team that scores him.
4. Tevin Coleman:
This guy is your prototypical power, one cut runner. He is a north-south guy and blasts the hole in an attempt to run defenders over. He could use more patience at the line since he's sometimes too quick to jump the first spot of daylight he sees. He rushed for over 2,000 yards last season and can solidly pick up chunk yards and move the chains. He's not as proficient as the rest of the field in the passing game as he only caught 25 balls for a meager 5.6 yards per catch. If someone like Dallas uses their second round pick on Coleman for their DeMarco Murray replacement he should be squarely in your Dynasty Draft sites.
4. Duke Johnson:
In late round 1 or early round 2 of your rookie draft if this guy is still around he should be at the top of your list. He has had the Frank Gore comparisons all throughout college (probably because he's also coming out of The U). This guy can take any carry to the house and also be that chain mover on any down. He reminds me of a LeSean McCoy type runner who is sometimes too quick to bounce to the outside. He has incredible ability to make guys miss in the open field which is a plus in the passing game. He caught 38 balls for 421 yards last season and under the right circumstances he could excel as a 3 down back in the NFL.
If these 5 guys end up in the right situation in the NFL they could all be their respective teams bell cow back in the future. While backs like Gurley, Gordon, and Ajayi will almost certainly go in the first round of your rookie draft, Coleman and Johnson could be a steal in the second round if they are still available. Keep in mind their value goes up if they end up in the perfect situation following the NFL draft. My top 3 landing spots for a running back in this year's upcoming draft are Dallas, San Diego, and Arizona. The first back chosen by any of these teams gets a bump up the fantasy draft board in my opinion.