Head of the Class

Who are the top running backs in the 2010 NFL Draft?  Brent Sobleski gives his insight on the top players at the tailback and fullback positions he thinks could be selected throughout the seven rounds in April.  Brent also adds extended comments for all his picks.

Running Backs

RankFull NameSchoolRndComments
1C.J. SpillerClemson1A dynamic offensive weapon that can truly threaten opposing NFL teams with a plethora of ways to attack.  Spiller is a natural receiver, a fantastic return option, and improved greatly as a pure running back prospect as a senior.  In particular, he showed some toughness running between the tackles.  And do not forget for all of Spiller’s explosiveness seen as a senior, he was battling through a severe case of turf toe throughout most the season.  This should be as good an indication as one can find in regards to his toughness despite not being a traditional 215+ pound running back prospect.
2Ryan MatthewsFresno St.1-2After leading the nation in rushing for most of the season, Matthews seemed nothing more than another west coast star often overlooked.    His combination of size, reported speed, and the ability to carry the entire load whenever necessary is an impressive combination.  Matthews follows his blocks well, hits the hole hard, and bursts through the other side with nimble feet for a 220 pound runner.
3Jonathan DwyerGeorgia Tech1-2A bowling ball of production and impressive runs while at Georgia Tech.  Many have Dwyer as solid first rounder and his talent could dictate as such.   Concerns which do not seem to be brought up are the nuances of his system and how it could affect him adversely.   The aiming points are different.  He is not often asked to run behind a lead blocker.  He is never asked to catch the football or really be part of the passing game.  Scouts will have to go back a few years to see how Dwyer runs out of a more traditional set.
4Jahvid BestCalifornia 2With the speed and agility to press a hole hard and quick while flying out the backside, Best was considered a first round prospect most of the season.  Then came his horrific injury flying into the endzone causing a severe concussion.   Questions will have to be answered by his doctors as he transitions to the next level.   Nor is Best a traditional back.  Rather, he is much in the same vein as previous Golden Bear backs that slash through their zone spread for large chunks at a time.  Some decision makers may view him as nothing more than a change of pace back.
5Montario HardestyTennessee 2-3Flourished under the direction of Lane Kiffin by more than doubling his career rushing output with his 1345 yards gained this season.    Hardesty is a strong runner between the tackles at 215 pounds who constantly keeps his feet pumping.  Certainly a workhorse for the Volunteers, he also led his team in scoring with his 14 total touchdowns.   Showed somewhat of a propensity to catch the football out of the backfield with 25 receptions as well.
6Ben TateAuburn 3An all around back that can run between the tackles, shows some burst to the hit the edge, and line up as a receiver.
7Joe McKnightSouthern Cal 3The man who was supposed to make Trojan fans forget about Reggie Bush had a rather underwhelming career.   McKnight finally started to put everything together as a junior and then declared.    This running back is a fantastic athlete with great agility and open field ability.   He is also a natural pass catcher.  He will never be an every down back.
8Toby GerhartStanford3Many love to watch the bruising tailback putting up huge numbers in college.   The fact of the matter is Gerhart is merely a short yardage or change of pace prospect.    He lacks burst outside of the tackle box.  He has never been used as much of a receiver out of the backfield.   It is hard though to overlook his production.
9Joique BellWayne St.3-4Small school prospect that is very intriguing due to his size and nimble feet in and out of the hole.   This year’s Harlon Hill Trophy winner showed himself very well at the Senior Bowl and his ranking should reflect as such.
10Anthony DixonMississippi St.4A year ago, Dixon would have been rated higher if he declared early.   What holds him back this off season is the beating this back has taken over his career.  With over 900 collegiate carries already, Dixon seems to have lost a little bit of that burst that made him a phenom early in his career.
11Charles ScottLSU4A woeful offense for the Bayou Bengals really hurt the stock of one Charles Scott.   This back would have been considered a  top option at the position heading into this season.   He struggled mightily early in the season but started to come on strong late.   Scott is a tank of a back that will prove to be a very nice option in the mid rounds.
12LaGarrette BlountOregon5-6Someone, eventually, is going to take a chance on Blount despite all of his issues.   When is where can be argued.   It will probably be later when teams can land more value.   Blount came into the season out of shape, looked very slow, and then had the incident.   Played well in very limited chances late.   Then looked very good as a downhill runner in Mobile.  The physical talent is certainly present, and he can be a great fit in the right system. Again, who will take the chance?
13Andre DixonConnecticut6Dixon is not the biggest, fastest, or quickest runner in this class.   He certainly runs hard, presses the hole, and gets yardage almost every time he touches the ball.   A natural runner who should be able to make a roster somewhere and contribute to a degree.
14Lonyae MillerFresno St.6-7Physically talented prospect that never seemed to put it all together for the Bulldogs.   Instead he spent most of his time this year on the bench watching star teammate Ryan Matthews getting the bulk of the work.   Miller showed his skills at the Senior Bowl and has enough talent to warrant a late round look.
15James StarksBuffalo6-7Missed his entire senior season due to a shoulder injury, Starks reportedly could have played this past year once the surgery cleaned up some previous issues.   So he will head into this off season fully healthy and reliant on medicals to prove as such.  Before getting injured, Starks had already become the Bulls all time leading rusher and displayed nose for the endzone despite being an upright runner.

Fullbacks

RankFull NameSchoolRndComments
1Rashawn JacksonVirginia5Spirited lead blocker with good size at 239 pounds and has some experience running/catching the football.
2Dorin DickersonPittsburgh5-6Career ‘tweener that has played tight end, wide receiver, and even some defense.  More of an H-back that will see time at tight end but cannot play the position exclusively.   Dickerson is a nice athletic mismatch if some offensive minded coach finds a way to use his skills properly.
3Clay HarborMissouri St.6-7Much like most prospects at this position in today’s game, Harbor is another collegiate tight end.  Harbor showed some ability to block off the edge and stretch the seam.
4John ConnerKentucky7Big, physical, traditional lead blocker.
5Jameson KonzKent St.7-FAH-back in college used in a variety of measures.   Another good athlete that could be a weapon if used correctly.