2010 Rookie RB Rankings


  1. Ryan Mathews, Fresno St.: Good size. Very lean, with little body fat. AA2T. Agile, with good balance. Very strong, though not a great leaper. Productive in bowl game, though stopped three times inside the 1-yard-line.
  2. CJ Spiller, Clemson: Average height, but slightly below-average bulk. AA1T. Fast and quick, with good forward lean and work ethic. Played through foot injury all year. Tough to bring down. Not a great blocker. May have ball security issues. Only thing that keeps him above Jahvid Best is that he seems more durable.
  3. Jahvid Best, Cal.: Average height, but slightly below-average bulk. Ultra-fast and ultra-quick back with good receiving skills. Plays all-out. Patient and sets up blockers very well, but has the vision and burst to get through the smallest holes. Improving blocker and inside runner. Missed time each of his three seasons due to injury, and has had two concussions..
  4. Toby Gerhart, Stanford: Great size and power. Good speed. Brandon Jacobs-type pile-pusher and workhorse. Can’t be arm-tackled. Protects ball well through hole. Above-average quickness.
  5. Ben Tate, Auburn: Good size. Tenacious runner who always seems to give great effort. Good body control. Quick feet help him find hole. Keeps legs moving after contact. Stout blocker. Strong lower body, but not a lot of explosiveness. In Senior Bowl practices, was slow out of route breaks and wasn’t a natural receiver, though he improved through the week.
  6. Jonathan Dwyer, Ga. Tech.: Great size and very good lower-body strength. Good forward lean — always pointed downfield for extra inches. Above-average speed for the size, but below-average acceleration and burst. Doesn’t hit hole hard and sometimes seems off balance. Adequate blocker. Played in triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, and will have some adjustments in the NFL.
  7. Charles Scott, LSU: Great size and good strength. Shows good balance and open-field running ability to make defenders miss. Strong lower body. Lowers pads to deliver hits and not take them. Doesn’t go down with first contact. Nimble feet to pick through line of scrimmage. Shows good ball security technique. Average speed, but accelerates to it quickly. Runs slightly upright. DNP in bowl game — had injured clavicle that also kept him out of Senior Bowl.
  8. LeGarrette Blount, Ore.: Powerful back with large, muscular frame — described as Brandon Jacobs with more quickness. Has shown adequate speed and a little bit of a breakaway gear. Finishes runs with power. An improving receiver. Runs a little upright and dances too much behind the line. Hands may be a problem — fumbled in bowl game without being hit and also in Senior Bowl practice. Certainly a red flag for maturity and control. Not an experienced receiver.
  9. Montario Hardesty, Tenn.: Average size. Classic north-south runner with surprising open-field agility. Good balance, and isn’t easy to bring down. Good receiver. Reputation for good ball security. Only average speed and doesn’t show a lot of change-of-direction ability behind the line. Stopped behind the line more often than not in bowl game. Was chosen for Senior Bowl, but withdrew.
  10. Anthony Dixon, Miss. St.: Brandon Jacobs size — large but lean. Agile and balanced runner who bowls over smaller defenders. Smart RB who knows his craft. Runs fairly crisp routes and has soft hands. Willing blocker. Good enough speed to get outside, but isn’t very elusive in space. Has had some recent legal trouble.
  11. Stafon Johnson, USC: Average size, but runs close to the ground, with very good balance and stop-and-start ability. Runs well both inside and outside. Nice stutter step to find holes in line. Very good vision both behind the line and downfield. Gets up to speed immediately. Sets up blockers well. Lowers pads to take on defenders in short-yardage. Crushed larynx in weightlifting accident early in season and didn’t play again. Better-than-average receiving skills and tracks ball well over his head and shoulders. Also has been used as a returner. Adequate blocker.
  12. Joique Bell, Wayne St. (Mich.): Good size. Good forward lean and balance. Runs smoothly — looks like he’s on rails. Keeps balance after hits. Pretty good short-yardage runner who knows where first-down marker is. Above-average blocker. Harlan Hill Award winner. Adequate burst, but not much of a breakaway gear. Inconsistent hands — looks passes in, but doesn’t look like a natural at it. Below-average ball security — fumbled in Senior Bowl without much of a hit.
  13. Patrick Paschall, N. Dak. St.: Good height, but thin frame. Moves well N-S as well as outside and showed great burst and acceleration and good athleticism. Great in open space. Also showed good pass-protection abilities. Keeps feet moving after contact. Always seems to be finding more room downfield. Good start-and-stop. Decent receiver and projects to be third-down receiver in NFL. Could be a starter if he puts on a little more muscle. Too indecisive behind the line. Sometimes runs out of control. May have ball-security issues and some issues with authority.
  14. DeMarco Murray, Okla.: Great height, but could stand to pack some muscle on his thin lower body. Very good speed and nice burst. Makes quick decisions and has the quickness and acceleration to make moves and get up to speed immediately. Average hands. Runs upright, but still strong. Doesn’t keep legs moving after contact.
  15. Roy Upchurch, Ala.: Displays both power and 3rd-down ability. Protects ball well and lowers pads to deliver a hit instead of taking one. Good vision, acceleration and speed. Great stop-and-start ability for the size. Reminds me of Bernard Scott. Needs to get stronger lower body to be able to move pile and improve his blocking leverage.
  16. Chris Brown, Okla.: Average size. Good burst and balance. Also shows good hands. Patient runner who sets up blockers well. Quick feet, but often seems to be running out of control. Due to injury, didn’t play in Senior Bowl.
  17. Lonyae Miller, Fresno St.: Good size, burst, speed, and inside-running ability. Keeps legs moving in short-yardage situations. Also knows when to bounce run outside. Good cut-and-run ability for zone-blocking scheme. Good receiver. Willing blocker but not an able one. Small hands, which may cause ball-security problems, as it did with Cedric Peerman in 2009 — Peerman and Miller both fumbled in their all-star games. But he has a strong upper body.
  18. Joe McKnight, USC: Built more like an average WR than a RB and his skills seem better suited to WR than RB. Very good vision and quickness lets him find holes inside as well as get outside, which is where he’s best. Runs upright and doesn’t seem very strong. Also doesn’t run with balance, a trait that may prevent him from being a true RB in pros. Durability also an issue. DNP in bowl — legal trouble.
  19. James Starks, Buffalo: Tall for a RB, and could use some bulk. Has excellent receiving skills and soft hands — may want to switch to WR in pros. Shifty runner behind the line and has good vision to get through line. Lowers pads well in short-yardage. Secures the ball well. Said to be a high-character teammate. Good straight-line speed, but doesn’t seem very quick. Runs a little out of control. Should be stronger as a blocker with his size, but lacks technique. Coming off of lost 2009 due to shoulder injury.
  20. Andre Dixon, Conn.: North-south runner with good size and strength. Lowers his shoulder nicely and moves well through line. Was a workhorse in bowl game. Has a nose for the end zone because he can pick his way through inside traffic. Average speed outside. Adequate hands and good vision after the catch. Functional pass blocker. In Shrine Game practices, showed excellent hands and competitiveness. Not very explosive, though, and was hesitant to make his cuts, dancing in the backfield too much.
  21. LaMarcus Coker, Hampton (Va.): Average size, but elite speed. Was All-SEC Freshman at Tennessee, and was starter over Arian Foster there until being kicked off team for drug violations. Went to Hampton and did very well. MVP of East Coast Bowl game, with 204 yards and 3 long TDs. Strong legs, but needs to get lower to avoid hits — was still tough to bring down. Showed elusiveness on screens, but suspect hands as receiver — dropped two easy passes in HBCU game (maybe as a result of an injured finger). May have character issues.
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