The senior running back crop looks like a poor one heading towards the 2011 NFL Draft, something the league’s scouting service agrees with. The situation at fullback is slightly better. Here’s a breakdown of both positions.
Twenty one senior running backs received draftable grades yet not one of them were ranked as a first round pick. Several ball carriers curiously graded out as free agents.
1) DeMarco Murray/Oklahoma: Injuries and the ability to stay healthy will loom large in Murray’s ultimate draft position next April. His grade of 6.3 equates to a mid-second round choice. 2nd/3rd Round
2) Graig Cooper/Miami-Fl: Cooper received a 6.0 which is nice to see. We hope he’s not rushed back onto the field this season, assuming he plays at all, after the devastating knee injury he suffered last December. 2nd/3rd Round
3) Evan Royster/Penn State: Scouts have confided in us they think Royster is a one cut/one speed ball carrier. 3rd/4th Round
4) Noel Devine/West Virginia: Devine’s verified measurements were 5077/175lbs. 3rd/4th Round
5) Daniel Thomas/Kansas State: Grade, 5.9. 3rd/4th Round
6) DeLone Carter/Syracuse: Carter seriously considered entering last April’s draft. He’s a bit short (5083) but is well built and ran a verified 4.50 in the forty. 3rd/4th Round
7) Da’Rel Scott/Maryland: There’s a variety of opinion on Scott and we are not high on his next level potential. His grade of 5.7 is on large part due to his size/speed numbers of 5112/196lbs/4.4 (all verified). 3rd/4th Round
8 ) Roy Helu/Nebraska: Grade, 5.6. 3rd/4th Round
9) Baron Batch/Texas Tech: Grade, 5.4. 5th/7th Round
10) Mario Fannin/Auburn: Fannin was a player we absolutely loved off the 2008 film but his game took a step back last year after Brandon Tate stepped his game up. He’s got terrific size (5103/228lbs verified) plays relatively fast and is an outstanding pass catcher. 5th/7th Round
11) Kendall Hunter/Oklahoma State: Hunter was hampered with injury last season. He’s small (estimated 5080/200lbs) but has a lot of Jahvid Best in his game. 5th/7th Round
12) Derrick Locke/Kentucky: Locke was the fastest of all the draftable running backs with a verified forty time of 4.38 seconds. 5th/7th Round
13) Vailala Taua/Nevada: Grade, 5.3. 5th/7th Round
14) Jock Sanders/West Virginia: Sanders is slightly shorter than his teammate Noel Devine (5063) yet a bit bigger (179lbs). 5th/7th Round
15) Shaun Draughn/North Carolina: Draughn received a grade of 5.2 which is higher than his teammates, Ryan Houston (listed below with the fullbacks) who was graded as a free agent, something we don’t agree with. 5th/7th Round
16) Anthony Allen/Georgia Tech: Allen officially measured 6000/232lbs and he plays relatively fast. His pre-season wonderlic score was also solid. Allen should take on a bigger role this season with Jonathan Dwyer now in the NFL, which will only help his draft stock. 5th/7th Round
17) Quentin Castille/Northwestern State: The Nebraska transfer has verified computer numbers of 6013/250lbs/4.8 seconds. 5th/7th Round
18 ) Bradford Allen/USC: At 5112/236lbs, Allen is bigger than his lead blocker Stanley Havili. 5th/7th Round
19) Matthew Asiata/Utah: The big back hopes to return to full health after being sidelined for much of last year with a knee injury. 5th/7th Round
20) Eddie Wide/Utah: Grade, 5.0. 5th/7th Round
21) Donald Buckram/UTEP: Grade, 5.0. 5th/7th Round
* Projected rounds are the equivalency of the grades given to senior prospects as per National’s grading scale.
Notes: Some of the ball carriers who surprisingly received free agent grades were Nick Grigsby of Arizona, Brandon Saine of Ohio State, Emmanuel Moody from Florida and Derrick Washington of Missouri. Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt is listed with the running backs and was graded at 4.3, which is equivalent to being a camp player.
How does this compare to last year?
The highest rated back last summer, CJ Spiller, received a grade of 6.9. He was followed by Charles Scott (6.5), Toby Gerhart (6.2), Anthony Dixon (6.0), then LaGarrett Blount (5.9).
Just nine fullbacks are on the list as either draftable prospects or free agent material. The top four were the only ones who received draftable grades and all are ranked as 5th-7th round prospects. Still, we think this is one of the better classes in a while.
1) Anthony Sherman/UConn: Sherman is a terrific athlete who shows skill as a blocker and pass catcher out of the backfield. His verified computer numbers are 5104/240lbs/4.63-seconds.
2) Shaun Chapas/Georgia: Chapas received the same grade as Sherman, 5.2, but he’s a bit more one-dimensional. Chapas is a throwback, lead blocker who does the little things well.
3) Owen Marecic/Stanford: In our opinion Marecic is graded too low. He’s a multi-purpose fullback and does the little things exceptionally well, all along playing with a warrior mentality. Marecic ranks as our top fullback and we feel he’s mid-round material.
4) Stanley Havili/USC: This will come as a surprise to some and Havili has been considered a potential mid-round player by many the past two seasons. His grade, 5.0, represents the lowest of draftable grades. There are no verified numbers for Havili and the sheets estimate him as 6004/230.
5) Ryan Houston/North Carolina: The fact Houston has been pegged at fullback is surprising to us. We think he has the skills to be a terrific power runner on the inside at the next level- as he presently does for the Tar Heels. The fact he grades as a priority free agent at this point is also disappointing.
6) Robert Hughes/Notre Dame
7) Ryan Travis/West Liberty State: Travis is actually a tremendous pass catching tight end that projects to fullback.
8) Patrick DiMarco/South Carolina
9) Mark Moundros/Michigan: Moundros was given a grade of 2.0, which means incomplete. After his redshirt freshman season of ’07 we had high hopes for Moundros and thought he was one of the best underclassmen fullback prospects in the nation. Considering the way Rich Rodriguez successfully implemented his fullbacks at WVU we thought Moundros would be a beneficiary of the coaching change. Too date it has not worked out that way.