Pre-Season 2016 NFL Draft Watch: Running Backs

Top Tier

James Conner, Pittsburgh
A quick anecdote on this year’s class: at the moment, none of the backs grade out as first rounder’s like Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon. Conner’s best attribute is that he is extremely tough to bring down. He not only has the power for the position, but also great vision and balance which make him a threat in the open field. However, his long speed is not great.

Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
Dixon might be the most complete running back in this year’s class. His best assets as a runner are his strength, power and balance, which are complimented by his willingness to constantly fight for extra yards. He does a good job at hitting the line hard and showing good initial vision at the line of contact. He also has the speed to break some big runs. Dixon looks like he has some value on third down showing great pass-blocking ability.

Mid Rounds & Sleepers

Corey Clement, Wisconsin
Like Melvin Gordon a year ago, Clement has tons of speed to burn. However, he does not have a ton of power and will need to work on his vision. But do not underestimate his tenacity; in the open field, Clement is very difficult for defenders to corral.

Devonte Booker, Utah
There are times Booker can be extremely frustrating to watch, showing poor vision and balance. Other times, he shows great power and toughness to break off some incredible runs. If Booker can become more consistent with his reads he has a chance to be one of the top backs in this group.

Brandon Wilds, South Carolina
Outside of Henry, Wilds might have the best frame on this list at 6’2” and 224 pounds. Wilds is more than a big back, showing a good amount of agility and some value as a pass catcher. But, he does not have a ton of speed and will not have many touchdowns streaking past defenders. A full season as a starter should see if Wilds can be more than a short yardage back.

Best of the Rest

DJ Foster, Arizona State
Foster is probably the most versatile running back in this year’s class, he is arguably a better receiver than he is a running back. He has really good long speed and burst leading to some big runs. But Foster offers very little between the tackles.

Alex Collins, Arkansas
Collins is certainly the superior runner out of the Arkansas backfield. He runs hard and has good vision to get some decent yards between the tackles. Collins' long speed and power are mediocre which puts a cap on his upside.

Nick Wilson, Arizona
The Wildcat tailback looks like a solid fit as a zone runner, with good vision, agility and burst when he hits the line of scrimmage. Wilson does not offer as much as far as speed in the open field nor strength to push the pile; though his toughness does slightly compensate for a lack of power.

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