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2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Running Back

Photo by Tommy LaPorte/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Running Back

Next up on my positional superlatives series are running backs which features three prospects ranked among my top 50 prospects and 9 with day one or day two grades. There are 4-6 backs that project as feature backs and a host of complimentary, niche runners.

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Best Player:  Dalvin Cook, Florida State

Dalvin Cook is a dynamic football player who can be the focal point of an NFL offense. With a tremendous ability to see the field and carry speed off his cuts, Cook is problematic for offenses. Complimenting his natural running skills with significant receiving upside, Cook is a versatile contributor that projects perfectly in today’s NFL.

There are alarming off-field issues and concerns with his shoulders that NFL teams will have to vet. On the field, Cook has the type of traits that should place him consistently among the league leaders in yards from scrimmage.

Best Resume:  Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

October 03 2015: San Diego State Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey (19) runs for a touchdown during the game between the San Diego State Aztecs and the Fresno State Bulldogs at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA. (Photo by David Dennis/Icon Sportswire)

My resume grades factor the injury history, off-field concerns and accolades that a player accumulates in their collegiate career and Pumphrey scored the highest. Starting 42 games while appearing in 54, Pumphrey had no notable injury concerns and was clean off the field. He racked up seemingly endless accolades as he became the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher.

  • 2013-Team outstanding freshman award.
  • 2014-1st Team All-Mountain West, Team MVP.
  • 2015-1st Team All-Mountain West, Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, Team MVP.
  • 2016-1st Team All-Mountain West, Mountain West offensive Player of the Year, Senior Bowl Invite.

Best Size:  James Conner, Pittsburgh

My size metric weighs all official measurements against positional averages over the last five years and Conner scores the best.  Conner checks in at 6014, 233 pounds with 31 ¼” arms and 9 ⅞” hands.

Best Athlete:  Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

My athleticism metric weighs all athletic testing results against positional averages over the last five years and Samuel leads the pack.

  • 40-Yard Dash:  4.31
  • 10-Yard Split:  1.55
  • Bench Press:  18
  • Vertical Jump:  37”
  • Broad Jump:  9’11’’’

Best Production:  Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

My production metric factors total games started and consistency in statistical output and Pumphrey scores the highest. Pumphrey started 42 career games and tallied 6,405 yards, 6 yards per carry and 62 touchdowns. He caught 100 passes for 1,041 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Best Vision:  Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

He sees the field incredibly well from every possible angle. Does well to react to what he sees and knows how to find space. His vision is strong when searching for holes and when in the hole, setting up his next move. His vision leads to strong spatial awareness and limits big hits on him. His vision is strong between the tackles and on boundary runs.

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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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