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2010 draft running back rankings

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.
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32 Responses to “2010 draft running back rankings”
  1. ninerfan5 says: Mar 27, 2010 3:01 PM

    no cj spiller for the niners!!!!! they wont draft him unless there isnt anyone else left

  2. daffx4 says: Mar 27, 2010 3:43 PM

    It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

  3. 4ever19 says: Mar 27, 2010 5:28 PM

    I like McCluster a lot. Hope he falls to the Colts in 3rd round, although that might still be a reach. 4th would be a better value.

  4. AztecsAlum says: Mar 27, 2010 5:50 PM

    I know this is only Pro Football Talk, but I would hope they would realize that the Chargers have pick # 40, not #60 anymore. They moved up in the Charlie Whitehurst trade.

  5. Geaux-Daddy says: Mar 28, 2010 12:42 AM

    LOL @ the Saints taking RB in the second. Hamilton will do Bell’s job..and Bush and Thomas are still the split leads….do you even watch football?
    Saints need an NT, OLB (or two), DE, and then depth at CB, TE and on the offensive line. Halfback is only going to happen in an extreme BPA situation.

  6. Memp! says: Mar 28, 2010 5:40 PM

    would LOVE to see Toby Gerhart in a Pats jersey

  7. BwB says: Mar 28, 2010 6:00 PM

    LOL@Geaux-Daddy
    if Ryan Matthews is there with last pick in 1st they would take take him. Pierre Thomas is looking for a new big contract and they wouldn’t have to pay him if that were to work out with Matthews and/or any other back they were to bring in.

  8. ttommytom says: Mar 28, 2010 6:18 PM

    I love the Easter Beagle. I really do.

  9. LighTsouT says: Mar 28, 2010 6:24 PM

    I think this is retarded, honestly. If the Rams take Matthew Stafford first overall instead of Suh, which I personally hope they dont, then they need to go RB in the second round. SJax can’t keep taking a pounding like he did last season. A Toby Gerhart sounds with the Rams second pick. If not a Gerhart, I think Joe McKnight makes sense there too. Unless there’s a stud LB who drops into the second round, like James “Animal Jr” Lauirinitus.

  10. BDiddy says: Mar 28, 2010 6:39 PM

    Matthews has the stats and the measurables but he doesn’t look like anything special on tape. Spiller looks like magic.

  11. Popeye says: Mar 28, 2010 6:48 PM

    ANTHONY DIXON IS HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!! HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAA

  12. Thor says: Mar 28, 2010 6:53 PM

    I think Texans will go CB in Round 1. Have heard Gerhart as a maybe in Round 2 (which makes some sense).
    I think Ben Tate will be pretty good. You don’t get 1,000 yards in the SEC if you suck.
    Blount will probably wind up in prison with Mike Rozier.

  13. aj says: Mar 28, 2010 6:56 PM

    Mathews injury history from a draft site:
    “Has sustained injuries to his head (concussion), ankle, collarbone, knee and foot over his career, missing seven full games due to injury and portions of several others, including the fourth quarter in four games in 2009.”
    Is he worth the risk at #20 overall?

  14. irishfan4life says: Mar 28, 2010 7:06 PM

    LighTsouT says: March 28, 2010 6:24 PM
    I think this is retarded, honestly. If the Rams take Matthew Stafford first overall instead of Suh, which I personally hope they dont, then they need to go RB in the second round.
    ya you’re right…..that does sound retarded!

  15. whoaleckna says: Mar 28, 2010 7:07 PM

    Change of system hurt Tate, think he’ll be a steal in round 3-4.

  16. KingJoe! says: Mar 28, 2010 7:22 PM

    Hey the only real issue here is the fact that you don’t have the Eagles taking one of these guys. They have a one yr deal with Bell and McCoy is not proven at all. If McNight is on the board when the Eagles choose in the 2nd round they will take him. If not then Blount in the 3rd for them.

  17. Geaux-Daddy says: Mar 28, 2010 7:25 PM

    LOL @ BwB
    You’re the only person that I’ve seen implying that Thomas plans to be wearing anything other than black and gold next year. He’s bulking up (again) to take on more of the heavy lifting, and really…half backs are a dime a dozen now, esp. in a rotation…
    No way with glaring defensive holes at LDE, NT and OLB..along with depth questions at CB and TE that a 1st goes for a RB. That’s more ridiculous than the orginal assertion that the Saints go RB in the second. Grant is gone, Fujita gone, Shanle needs upgraded, we need an NT to stope the run while Ellis plays to his strengths as a UT..and there is NO ONE behind Greer and Porter at CB. Gay isn’t a starter and Jenkins will probably wind up at FS if we don’t bring back Sharper. If HB is addressed I can’t see it before 3rd or 4th round if someone very impressive slips.
    If you have a source that shows PT as a potential contract issue…send it to Florio. He needs something to write about so we can quit getting college basketball updates on a pro football page.

  18. tylerconway22 says: Mar 28, 2010 7:39 PM

    I still don’t know how you have a job.

  19. radiohead433 says: Mar 28, 2010 7:50 PM

    Lightsout, I assume you mean Bradford at #1

  20. edgy1957 says: Mar 28, 2010 7:59 PM

    LighTsouT says:
    I think this is retarded, honestly. If the Rams take Matthew Stafford first
    *********************************
    Pot meet Kettle. Stafford won’t be in this draft. :)

  21. The Curse of Bobby Layne Part 2 says: Mar 28, 2010 8:20 PM

    LighTsouT – Re-read your post. Easy with calling others “retard”!!!!!
    Matthew Stafford drafted by the Rams? LoL!!!
    Some of us here in Detroit would like to give him away, but I think it will be tough for the Rams to draft him.
    Sam Bradford?

  22. Raider Pride says: Mar 28, 2010 8:41 PM

    Personally I like the first five rankings…
    WELL DONE MR. FOLORIO.
    Rankings 6 through 15 are all messed up.
    YOU SUCK MR. SILVA.

  23. Bucket says: Mar 28, 2010 10:14 PM

    Anthony Dixon love fest??? I’ve never seen anyone that high on him before!

  24. darrius_heyward-bey-butterfingers says: Mar 28, 2010 10:25 PM

    I believe Southern Illinois is Gateway Conference, not MVC.

  25. detroit says: Mar 28, 2010 10:47 PM

    The Curse of Bobby Layne Part 2:
    You’re a tool! I can’t wait for Stafford to start slinging the rock around and end up in the Pro-Bowl every year just so I can read the comments on PFT and laugh about what a Stafford Lover you’ve become.
    “Some of us here in Detroit would like to give him away”………what are you serious?
    He’s the best young Q.B. prospect we’ve had in almost 10 years and yet, you want to give him away?! Hell….he’s the BEST young Q.B. prospect in the last 5 years in the NFL….yeah, let’s ship him out….you DOLT!

  26. polishkingski says: Mar 28, 2010 11:33 PM

    man….Gerhart in a pats jersey….Southey will be in heaven, finally a white boy that can run with the black boys….NOT! you can make up some sub-par preformances in pro ball by position but not speed. he`ll be a great c.y.o basketball coach.

  27. dbara43 says: Mar 29, 2010 2:09 AM

    The Seahawks will take Blount well before he goes to the Chiefs, likely with the #127 pick in the 4th round they got from the Iggles.

  28. JFRESH says: Mar 29, 2010 2:32 AM

    I cannot wait to see Spiller in the NFL. I got to see firsthand how terrible Clemson was, but Spiller is dynamic and surprisingly powerful.

  29. PaulKemp says: Mar 29, 2010 6:16 AM

    @ninerfan5
    CJ Spillar is exactly what the 49ers need, a big play maker out of the backfield and in the kick return game. Someone to be the lightning to Gore’s thunder. Plus Gore has been injury pron and is creeping closer to that big 30, and Coffee is not a long term answer. Try knowing something about football before you make a comment, it makes it so much more pleasant for the reader….
    — Scot McCloughan

  30. LionsFanRoc says: Mar 29, 2010 8:39 AM

    1. Matthews
    2. Spiller
    3. Best
    4. McCluster
    5. Tate
    6. Gerhart
    7. Dixon
    8. Hardesty
    9. Dwyer
    10. McNight
    Dwyer is NOT that good, McCluster is better than 9 and Tate is wayyy better than 13.

  31. pacificamike says: Apr 1, 2010 2:25 PM

    joiqui is the real deal. go wayne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. LighTsouT says: Apr 9, 2010 5:57 PM

    meant Bradford. yes. D:

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