2011 NFL Draft Running back Rankings
1. Mark Ingram: Oklahoma- Ingram is the top back in a solid but unspectacular class. He is a tough between the tackles runner but lacks the home run hitting ability to become a Franchise back. He has good vision and doesn’t go down on the first hit. He is an above average receiver out of the backfield as well giving him added value. Overall Ingram is a good but not a great player and should be able to start year one. He will need a strong junior campaign to affirm his position atop the draft board and should here his name called in the top 20 picks.
2. Ryan Williams: Virginia Tech- Williams got his chance to shine last year for the Hokies when top running back Darren Evans went down with injury. While Evans might take some carries from him, Williams should be the featured back at Virginia Tech. He is just a redshirt sophomore so this season is crucial for him to show that last year wasn’t a fluke. He is a tough runner and could very well be a feature back at the next level.
3. Daniel Thomas: Kansas State- Thomas is a strong powerful back that I believe will rush his way this year into round 1. He might not play with as many star players as Williams and Ingram, but he is just as good. He will likely be overlooked because he doesn’t possess breakaway speed but he has no problem finding the end zone. I think he can squeak into the end of the first round or be an early pick atop the 2nd round.
4. Quizz Rodgers: Oregon State- Rodgers is one of my favorite players in college football right now, and he is just a pure weapon for any offense. He has shown to be both an excellent runner as well as a receiver out of the backfield. While his small stature and frame will give some teams caution, he could be the next Chris Johnson in the NFL. I don’t foresee him being taken in the 1st round, unless he just has an amazing combine, but he should fall no further than early to mid 2nd round. While he might rank 4th on my list, 5 years from now it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see him the top RB from this class.
5. Noel Devine: West Virgina- Devine is like Rodgers in some way, in that his size and slight build will hold him back. He is also a weapon running, receiving and returning and should go somewhere in the 2nd round. Devine is actually probably faster than Rodgers, but lacks his polish and is even smaller in size. This will be an important year for Devine to take his game to the next level. Particularly with a new quarterback at the helm, after having veterans Pat White and Jarret Brown behind center the past 3 years. Devine may never be a ‘feature’ back, but he is the type of guy who can get 200 carries, 50+ catches and all the returns each year (and also do those things very well), that to me is being featured enough to warrant a 2nd round pick.