2014 NFL Draft Prospects: Running Backs
By Matt LaPan
The 2013 NFL Draft saw zero running backs selected in the first round for the first time in the common draft era. To put it lightly, the 2013 draft was a down year for running backs.
As we continue to take a look at some of the best 2014 draft prospects, running back is on the table. With talented players such as De'Anthony Thomas and Silas Redd, the 2014 draft appears to have far more backfield talent available.
That said, the 2014 class has huge boom-or-bust potential. Here is your first look at the 2014 draft class at running back.
1. De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
5-9, 176 pounds
2012 season: 92 rushes, 701 yds., 11 TDs, 7.6 ypc, 45 rec., 445 yds., 5 TDs, 2 return TDs (1 punt, 1 kickoff)
Thomas is one of the most exciting players in college football. He might not be big in stature but uses his combination of speed and quickness to make huge plays. Although listed as a running back, Thomas has the ability to play anywhere on the field. He is a decisive runner with a great ability to make defenders miss, he then has the breakaway speed to outrun defenders. Many will knock him for his size and blocking ability, but neither of those factors inhibit his ability to be one of the most exciting players in the NCAA.
2. Silas Redd, USC
5-10, 200 pounds
2012 season: 167 carries, 905 yds., 9 TDs, 5.4 ypc
Silas Redd was one of the best running backs in the nation in the 2011 season while at Penn State. After transfering from Penn State to USC, many expected Redd to become a Heisman contender. Throw in a knee injury and limited early season playing time and Redd did not exactly measure up. However, Redd is still an exrememly decisive runner with great vision coming out of the backfield. When healthy, he is a great north-south runner who fights through contact and makes a major impact.
3. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
5-10, 196 pounds
2012 season: 303 carries, 1,929 yds., 23 TDs, 6.4 ypc., 36 rec., 303 yds., 1 TD
Carey was one of the best running backs in all of college football last season. He led the FBS with 1,929 yards and was among the leaders with 23 rushing touchdowns. Carey displays the power to run inside but also has the burst needed to gain the corner on outside runs. Carey is also a punishing runner who often initiates contact rather than being on the receiving end. Carey does have off-field concerns stemming from legal issues.
4. Damien Williams, Oklahoma
5-11, 214 pounds
2012 season: 176 carries, 946 yds., 11 TDs, 5.4 ypc., 34 rec., 320 yds., 1 TD
Williams is a strong runner who excels in a between-the-tackle running game. He has good vision and hits the holes hard. Williams also displays good quickness to elude defenders and then shows breakaway speed to outrun them to the end zone. He was hampered by an ankle injury throughout 2012. If Williams stays healthy, he could easily eclipse the 1,000-yard mark and rise up draft boards.
5. LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
5-10, 190 pounds
2012 season: 205 rushes, 1,016 yds., 8 TDs, 4.9 ypc
Perkins has a chance to break out this season after serving as primarily a backup and kickoff return man for most of his career. He showed flashes of brilliance last year when finally given an opportunity. A very fast back with great receiving skills out of the backfield. Perkins uses his speed to break out on runs to the outside and run by defenders.
6. James Wilder Jr., Florida State
6-2, 226 pounds
2012 season: 110 rushes, 635 yds., 11 TDs, 5.8 ypc.
Wilder is yet another runner that loves to deliver contact rather than receive it. Wilder is strong behind his pads and usually runs through first contact. He uses great patience and vision to let running lanes develop. He will have to prove that he can keep his physical style with an increased workload as the featured back.
7. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
5-10, 210 pounds
2012 season: 131 carries, 1,012 yds., 7 TDs, 7.7 ypc.
Seastrunk has a tough road ahead of him being the feature back in an offense that primarily throws the ball. When he gets his carries, Seastrunk has a great burst up the middle and good enough speed to get outside. He is an elusive runner in the open field with good top-end speed. One of the best shows of what Seastrunk is as a player was in the Oklahoma State game last season when Seastrunk suffered a leg injury mid-run and still scampered 76 yards for a touchdown before collapsing in the end zone.
8. Trey Burton, Florida
6-3, 228 pounds
2012 season: 29 rushes, 190 yds., 2 TDs, 6.5 ypc., 18 rec., 172 yds., 1 TD
Burton is a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism, yet each season his production has dropped, leaving everyone scratching their heads. In 2010, Burton was one of the most dynamic players in the NCAA as a strong runner, great receiver and even playing wildcat quarterback. He still shows the raw ability at times but has not consistently performed at his highest level since then. Burton could make a splash this year but if he continues to regress, he could face a big fall in the eyes of the NFL.
9. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
6-0, 242 pounds
2012 season: 185 rushes, 970 yds., 16 TDs, 5.2 ypc
Hyde has seen a huge jump in production since Urban Meyer took over at Ohio State. He is a powerful runner inside the tackles but has very good speed when running to the outside. Hyde runs with a lot of power behind his pads and uses his size to bowl over defenders. He has a limited role in the passing game and struggles at times stepping up to make blocks. The best part of Hyde's game might be his nickname, "El Guapo".
10. Michael Dyer, Arkansas Baptist
5-9, 210 pounds
2012 season: Did not play
Michael Dyer has taken one of the biggest falls from grace in recent memory. After being named the Offensive MVP of the BCS Championship in 2011, Dyer has seen been dismissed from Auburn, dismissed from Arkansas and missed an entire football season. Many look at Dyer's fall like what Tyrann Mathieu of LSU went through last year. The big question for Dyer is whether he will play in 2013. If he does, Dyer is a strong back with great speed who runs low to the ground and is very hard to bring down. If he plays he could be one of the best players in the country.