Who’s the draft’s late round RB gem?

Every year we hear about a late round/free agent running back who makes a roster and ends up fighting for playing time early in his NFL career. Therefore, today we highlight some of the top potential late round/free agent type backs who could all fit that mold for this year and end up out producing some of the “more talented” running backs drafted before them.

Allen Bradford: Southern Cal
If you want a big, strong, explosive runner to take a flyer on late, Bradford is your guy. He possesses good power, gets up to speed quickly and knows how to create after contact. He lacks a great feel in tight areas and isn’t an overly instinctive runner, but the skill set is most definitely there for him to be able to mature into a very good NFL running back if he can get into the right scheme that simply allows him run toward daylight.

Armando Allen Jr: Notre Dame
He averaged just under five yards a carry over the past two seasons and exhibits a natural blend of short area quickness, instincts and initial burst inside. He’s never carried the load for an entire season during his time at Notre Dame and suffered his way through injuries in 2010. However, he possesses some natural running skills and if he can ever stay healthy, he could end up being a real late round surprise.

Donald Buckram: UTEP
Buckram rushed for over 1,500 yards as a junior in 2009, averaging over 6.0 yards per carry. On tape he was sudden, fluid, explosive in tight areas and displayed a real feel between the tackles. He runs a bit upright, which led to him struggling to stay healthy as a senior. However, if he ever learns to keep his pad level down, the guy has the ability to consistently create for himself inside as an NFL runner.

Graig Cooper: Miami
If it wasn’t for a knee injury in Miami’s Bowl game in 2009, we could be talking about Cooper as one of the top X-factor backs in the 2011 draft. When healthy the guy is a sudden/violent cut back runner who knows how to make defenders miss and can catch the football out of the backfield. He looked like a shell of himself at times this year while recovering from an ACL tear. But if he’s able to work his way back into his 2009 form, he could be a nice late round/free agent pickup for a team looking for a potential dynamic change of pace type runner.

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