2016 Draft Prospects: Running Backs

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After a hiatus for free agency, the 2016 Draft Prospect Series rolls on with running backs. Running back isn’t much of a high priority position recently in the draft but Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon were selected in Round One in 2015. There are some first round pick worthy candidates and some strong day 2 picks in this draft.

Ezekiel Elliot: Ohio State

Elliot is a powerful 6’1 and 225 pound RB from Ohio State. Elliot was instrumental in Ohio State’s national championship for the 2014 season. Elliot had 1,878 yards at 6.9 YPC on 273 carries in 2014. Elliot notched 1,821 yards at 6.3 YPC on 289 carries in 2015. Elliot had 18 and 23 TDS respectively in 2014 and 2015. This is incredible production and Elliot has the size and power to be a first round running back. Elliot has great vision and a good jump cut. Elliot has good balance and has the power and agility to get yards after contact. Elliot ran a 4.47 40 at the combine and should be a starting running back from day one for a team.

Derrick Henry: Alabama

Derrick Henry is 6’3 and 242 pounds. He is a monster RB for the Crimson Tide and won the Heisman in the 2015 season. Henry had 395 attempts at 5.6 YPC for 2,219 yards in 2015. Henry added a whopping 28 TDs. Henry had 172 carries for 990 yards and 11 TDs in 2014. Henry wasn’t much of a receiver but is a workload running back that can carry a team. Henry ran a 4.54 40 and had a 37 inch vertical jump with a 133 broad jump. Henry is a powerful, violent and athletic back. Henry could fit a zone or power scheme and gets better as the game goes on. Henry needs to work on his cut back ability and receiving. Henry should be a day 2 pick but could sneak into Round 1.

Devontae Booker: Utah

Booker is 5’111 and 219 pounds. Booker is a good overall back and can find holes quickly with good vision. Booker is elusive and a solid pass catcher. Booker doesn’t have top end speed and didn’t run at the combine due to an injury. Booker had 6 fumbles in 2014 and must add ball security. Booker can be a workhorse. Booker had 268 carries at 4.7 YPC for 1,261 yards with 11 TDs in 2015. Booker had 292 carries for 1,512 yards at 5.2 YPC with 10 TDS in 2014 facing PAC 12 defenses. Booker should be a solid day 2 back and solid RB in the league.

Alex Collins: Arkansas

Collins was a productive 3 year starter in the SEC. Collins had 271 carries for 1,577 yards at 5.8 YPC with 20 TDS in 2015. Collins had 5.4 YPC on 204 carries in 2014 with 12 TDs. Collins is 5’10 and 217 pounds with a durable frame. Collins is good at avoiding tacklers and has solid vision and patience. Collins is good in the red zone but doesn’t have much change of pace. Collins ran 4.59 at the combine and doesn’t break many tackles. Collins is a borderline day 2 pick but could be a workhorse back in the right system.

CJ Prosise: Notre Dame

Prosise is a one season wonder for the Fighting Irish. Prosise had 1,032 yards with 156 carries at 6.6 YPC. Prosise had 11 TDs in 2015 and added 308 receiving yards. Prosise had 516 receiving yards in 2014 and is considered a good receiving back. Prosise ran a 4.48 and showed good leaping ability at the combine. Prosise is 6’0 and 220 pounds which gives him the size to be an every down back. Prosise is an efficient and patient runner and shows good speed on tape. Prosise is a good receiver but only has one year of production as a runner. Prosise had 5 fumbles in 2015 and must improve his blitz pick up.

Jordan Howard: Indiana

Howard is another big back at 6’0 and 230 pounds. Howard didn’t run at the combine but must show speed. Howard has three productive seasons and had 1,213 yards at 6.2 YPC with 9 TDs in 2015 for the Hoosiers. Howard missed 3 games due to injury in 2015. Howard transferred to Indiana after UAB shut down their football program. Howard takes good angles and has good vision. He is a strong runner and gets yards after contact at next level. Howard doesn’t have much agility or change of speed and runs too high in his pads. Howard has good size but will need some coaching at the next level to change his style. Howard is an early day 3 option.

Kenneth Dixon: Louisiana Tech

Dixon is 5’10 and 215 pounds. Dixon is an aggressive and elusive runner but ran only 4.58 at the combine. Dixon is good at getting yards after contact and is good in the redzone. Dixon had 5.4 YPC and 19 TDs in 2015. Dixon had 27 TDs his freshman year and 22 TDS in 2014. Dixon has some knee and ankle issues in his past and needs to improve in pass protection and all security. Dixon has 13 fumbles over 3 seasons. Dixon is a late day 2 or early day 3 pick.

Paul Perkins: UCLA

Perkins has three productive years with the Bruins. Perkins had 5.7 YPC for 1,343 yards and 14 TDs in 2015. Perkins is 5’10 and 208 pounds and ran a 4.54 at the combine. Perkins has great vision and great elusiveness. He has good one cut moves and can make defenders miss. Perkins is a little smaller and doesn’t get much YAC. Perkins must show more speed on tape but should be an early day 3 pick.

Other RBs

Jonathan Williams (Arkansas), Tyler Ervin (San Jose State), Kelvin Taylor (Florida), Kenyan Drake (Alabama), Jose Ferguson (Illinois) are other RBs worth drafting in the later rounds.

This RB class is full of power backs that can carry the work load. Many have good vision but lack elite elusiveness. Elliot and Henry could be first round picks but most will go in Round 2 or 3.