1. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State.
The NCAA’s leading rusher in 2009, Mathews is ready to break tackles in the pros, runs with the best balance of any draft-eligible back, and is built (6’0/218) to be a workhorse with homerun speed (4.45).
Draft Prediction: Texans, No. 20 overall.
2. C.J. Spiller, Clemson.
Though he doesn’t project as an NFL every-down back, Spiller is a big-time play-maker (52 career touchdowns; 21 from 50 or more yards out) with game-breaking return skills and a collection of devastating open-field moves.
Draft Prediction: 49ers, No. 17 overall.
3. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State.
Dixon lacks ideal speed (mid-4.6 forty), but is a punishing runner and possesses impressively soft hands for a back that plays in the 245-pound range.
Draft Prediction: Chargers, No.
60 40 overall.
4. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech.
A history of weight fluctuation, lack of pass-catching experience, and concerns about Dwyer’s ability to transition from Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense have hurt his stock, but the 2008 ACC Offensive Player of the Year’s lower half is built for tackle-busting destruction.
Draft Prediction: Saints, No. 64 overall.
5. Jahvid Best, California.
Best has a disturbingly long injury history (season-ending back injury and concussion in 2009, plus hip, elbow and foot surgeries throughout college career), but he is the draft’s purest homerun hitter, averaging a school record 7.3 yards per carry in three seasons at Cal.
Draft Prediction: Lions, No. 34 overall.
6. Toby Gerhart, Stanford.
Also a starting outfielder on the Cardinal baseball team, the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year is a hard-charging, no-frills runner with experience in a pro-style system and plenty of speed (4.53).
Draft Prediction: Patriots, No. 53 overall.
7. Joe McKnight, USC.
An NFL-ready third-down back, McKnight is polished in terms of blitz protection, offers top-notch receiving skills, and has the speed to go the distance (4.47) coming from USC’s pro-style scheme.
Draft Prediction: Vikings, No. 62 overall.
8. Montario Hardesty, Tennessee.
Hardesty flourished in Lane Kiffin’s zone-blocking scheme last year and tore up February’s Combine, but underwent microfracture surgery at Tennessee and isn’t a difference-making talent.
Draft Prediction: Packers, No. 86 overall.
9. Dexter McCluster, Mississippi.
Second in Ole Miss history behind only Deuce McAllister in all-purpose yards, McCluster is incredibly versatile but was injury prone early in his college career and is extremely undersized.
Draft Prediction: Steelers, No. 82 overall.
10. James Starks, Buffalo.
Starks missed his entire senior year after undergoing surgery on both shoulders, but proved he is 100 percent with a strong Combine and possesses the skill set of a future every-down back.
Draft Prediction: Seahawks, No. 104 overall.
11. LeGarrette Blount, Oregon.
Character concerns will haunt Blount on draft weekend, but he is a bone-crushing runner with surprising speed and quickness, and is built like Christian Okoye.
Draft Prediction: Chiefs, No. 144 overall.
12. Deji Karim, Southern Illinois.
The 2009 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, Karim missed all of 2008 with a torn patellar tendon but returned to average 7.1 yards per carry with 19 touchdowns as a senior and ran a sub-4.4 forty at his Pro Day.
Draft Prediction: Redskins, No. 135 overall.
13. Ben Tate, Auburn.
Tate ran 4.43 at February’s Combine, but doesn’t play nearly as fast and may get overdrafted based on impressive out-of-pads measurables.
Draft Prediction: Browns, No. 71 overall.
14. Dimitri Nance, Arizona State.
Built like a bowling ball at 5-foot-9, 225, Nance is physical between the tackles and caught an impressive 63 passes in his college career, though he averaged just 4.0 yards per carry.
Draft Prediction: Rams, No. 208 overall.
15. Joique Bell, Wayne State.
The 2009 Harlon Hill Trophy winner as Division II’s player of the year, Bell scored 100 touchdowns in 44 games but lacks ideal speed (4.68) and quickness, and has lots of wear on his tires after over 1,000 career carries.
Draft Prediction: Bears, No. 218 overall.
For more in-depth evaluation of the 2010 running back class, bang it here.