2009 NFL Draft RB Rankings

Here’s a look back at how I ranked the RBs in the 2009 draft class — my first year of draft study. My biggest miss was obviously Arian Foster, who I ranked at number 15.

  1. Donald Brown: Colts, 1st round. Excellent vision and burst. Tough inside runner with good size. Has good speed. An OK receiver. Very smart and carries himself professionally. AAHM. Will immediately compete with Addai for time, but should supplant him by the end of the year. Has super-bright future in Colts offense due to his receiving ability. Needs to work on setting up blockers.
  2. Knowshon Moreno: Broncos, 1st round. Strong, instinctive, good receiver. Driven. Everything you want, except elite speed. Running with 3rd team in OTAs, with Jordan and Buckhalter ahead of him, but should be the starter from day one. What that means in the McDaniels offense is yet to be seen. When he used RBBC in New England, none of the backs were all that great in fantasy. Held out, then was immediately injured, which hurt his 1st-year stock.
  3. LeSean McCoy: Eagles, 2nd round. Good size, speed, and all-around skills. Excellent receiving skills. Should be immediate backup to Westbrook, and this makes him a handcuff for sure, with greater potential as Westbrook declines. Worked with 1st-team offense in OTAs with Westbrook hurt, and with Westbrook out until training camp, should get bulk of early work. Weak lower body, which must improve to handle load in NFL. Must work on blocking skills to stay on field more. But will be Wildcat QB.
  4. Chris Wells: Cardinals, 1st round. North-south runner with vision, burst, and good speed. Weighs 225 lbs. Jamal Lewis-type. Should supplant Hightower as featured back right away, and could take goal-line carries away from him as well. May not be durable, as height may expose him to hard hits. Short shelf life due to injury history and playing style, and was injured in his first practice. High bust potential.
  5. Shonn Greene: Jets, 3rd round. Powerhouse runner with outstanding lower body. Good balance. Adequate speed. A Thomas Jones clone, and may supplant Jones right away if he holds out too long. Excellent starting potential by 2010. No receiving experience, though he caught the ball well in bowl game. Below-average upper-body strength. Not very elusive, and will take some hits.
  6. Rashad Jennings: Jaguars, 7th round. Hard runner with big size. Above-average speed & good hands. Strong, with good body lean. Sets up blockers well. Enters good situation as backup to MJD. Should be serviceable starter in 2009, with extra potential if MJD gets hurt. Surprisingly quick at minicamp and has really impressed a lot of insiders. Seems like a true pro, but is also already 24 years old, meaning he’ll have a shorter shelf life. Undervalued at this spot.
  7. Gartrell Johnson: Chargers, 4th round. Great size, power, and balance. Good quickness. Slow 4.6-4.7 speed. Good short-yardage back. Could be their starter as soon as LT leaves (if Sproles leaves, too). Otherwise, has little fantasy relevance in 2009 except as 2nd handcuff to LT. LT was mentoring him at minicamp, and he has reportedly looked great in training camp.
  8. Glen Coffee: 49ers, 3rd round. Adequate speed and quickness. Strong as can be, but thin lower body doesn’t let him move the pile. Plays mean. Good production in college, and is a good receiver. Has become a leader. Will be backup to Gore in a run-based offense, so still should get a lot of touches, especially as Gore gets hurt a lot. Has good starting potential, but is not expected to take many carries while Gore is starting.
  9. Andre Brown: Giants, 4th round. Hard runner with quick burst. Great size. Very good short-yardage runner. Keeps feet moving and gets upfield fast. Sets up blockers well. Good receiver, but not elusive. Durability and academic issues. Enters running offense with style similar to Brandon Jacobs. Good starting potential when Jacobs gets hurt or leaves as FA. But competition for touches makes him a fantasy backup for a year or so, especially as Bradshaw seems to be improving.
  10. Bernard Scott: Bengals, 6th round. Ultra-productive for a great small college offense. Put up 3,000 total yards in 2008 with 34 TDs. Very impressive at Texas vs. the Nation game. Good balance, vision, quickness, and body lean – always pointed downfield. Runs through tackles. Has been a workhorse. If he stays out of trouble on this troubled team, he has excellent potential as a change of pace to Benson. Looks very good in OTAs. Adequate height (5’10”) but would have better starting potential if he adds 10 pounds. 25 years old. Brian Leonard is expected to be #2 on team.
  11. Javon Ringer: Titans, 5th round. Unspectacular in bowl game, but was a strong runner who got better over time. Workhorse with 4.4 speed. Had outstanding pro day, especially in quickness drills. OK receiver. Hard worker. Will be buried on depth chart for a while unless team trades LenDale White. But with the team’s emphasis on run, is in a great situation to be a workhorse if called upon.
  12. Javarris Williams: Chiefs, 7th round. Good size. Quick burst and elusiveness. Good receiver. Needs to improve patience. Keeps feet moving. Strong legs. Good size. Has starter potential if Johnson leaves, but at the least could split time with Jamaal Charles. Starter potential by 2010, but has to be higher than 3rd on depth chart. If LJ is traded, then Williams has a great chance to be RB3.
  13. Mike Goodson: Panthers, 4th round. Explosive athlete with inconsistent production. As #3 RB on run-heavy team behind Williams and Stewart, may see some touches, but unless one of them leaves, he will be bench material. May be their 3rd-down back until then. But was also used as WR at minicamp, and reportedly looked good running routes. At that position, might have a good shot as a slot receiver. Has also impressed Delhomme with his speed.
  14. Devin Moore: Seahawks, FA. Great strength and speed, and average size. Good vision and quickness, with good competitiveness. Fumbled in Texas vs. the Nation game, but that wasn’t so much a problem in college. May be NFL change-of-pace back. Should be 3rd back right away, with very good starting potential on weak Seahawks RB depth chart.
  15. Arian Foster: Texans, FA. Good size with solid weight. Strong, but has had fumbling problems. 4.7 speed and average athleticism. Injured at Senior Bowl practices and combine. Will compete with fellow free agent Jeremiah Johnson as top backup to Slaton. Both have a chance to make the team, but Johnson probably has better chance to be top backup due to versatility and speed. Foster is the one who has been singled out by Kubiak in the early going, though.
  16. Cedric Peerman: Ravens, 5th round. Good burst. Quick, athletic and strong. Fights for tough yardage. One of the strongest at Combine. Big back with very small hands – may have fumbling problems, and did fumble at Senior Bowl. Buried on depth chart, but may be #3 RB on team (#4 if you count McClain). Has #2 potential in 2010 and beyond in this run-heavy offense.
  17. James Davis: Browns, 5th round. Not a good receiver, bad routes and awareness. Good burst, but lacking vision to hit hole. 4.4 speed. Not quick. Has good forward lean, but can’t make people miss. Probably #3 RB right away, and with very little ahead of him, could see some playing time in 2009. But is too inconsistent to contribute as a starter in NFL.
  18. PJ Hill: Saints, FA. Inside runner with good size. May not be durable. Character and maturity issues – arrested for DUI in March. May compete for backup RB role and short-yardage back.
  19. LaRod Stephens-Howling: Cardinals, 7th round. Fast and elusive backup to LeSean McCoy. 4.4 speed and strong upper body. Change of pace to Wells, with 3rd-down back capability. Is probably the Cardinals’ replacement for JJ Arrington.
  20. Aaron Brown: Lions, 5th round. Good vision and quickness. Has returner skills. Not very strong. Good 3rd-down back, and could fill that role with Lions. Not fantasy-relevant, though.
  21. Kory Sheets: 49ers, FA. Good speed and balance. Has returner skills. Very productive receiver in college, and at Senior Bowl. Doesn’t move pile – not very strong. Doesn’t have great vision or game awareness. Will probably be 3rd-down back on 49ers, and with Gore and Coffee ahead of him, won’t see field much as a runner.
  22. Marlon Lucky: FA. Good size. Great Shrine Game. Sub-par instincts and vision. Productive early in college, but fell to 3rd on depth chart in 2008. Athletic, but average speed. Missed most of Bengals minicamp, and got few reps. Waived in late August.
  23. Ian Johnson: Vikings, FA. Good size, great speed, vision and lateral mobility. Good receiver. Very productive in college. Upper-body strength, but doesn’t appear to move the pile. Average quickness. May be 3rd-down back for Vikings, but will never start. Should be good special-teamer for them, but has very limited fantasy potential.
  24. Jamall Lee: Panthers, FA. Bishop’s. Very fast and athletic. Has looked great, though upright, at OTAs, but probably won’t make the roster in Carolina due to crowded depth chart. May play in CFL, where he was drafted third overall.
  25. Jeremiah Johnson: FA. Quick and keeps himself pointed downfield. Good receiver with soft hands. Smart with good legs. Fairly hard to bring down. Seemed to dominate at Senior Bowl. Some durability issues, and will have shoulder surgery and miss 2009. A little slow. Put on IR in August, but may return as top backup in 2010.
  26. Josh Vaughan: Jaguars, FA. Great size, explosiveness, and immense upper-body strength. 4.6 speed. 1900 (5.3avg) rushing yards as a senior. 700 in 2007 as Tim Hightower’s backup. Waived by Buccaneers in August. Signed a few days later by Jacksonville. May stick as #3 RB, but is behind MJD and Jennings for now.
  27. Tyrell Sutton: Packers, FA. Shifty and elusive, with great work ethic and intelligence. Patient and sets up blockers. Not durable or strong. History of injuries. May be 3rd-down back, but not fantasy-relevant behind Grant and Jackson. Doesn’t really have NFL skills, anyway, and will probably just be a special-teamer.
  28. Antone Smith: Vikings, FA. Short, but stocky. Very strong upper body (31 reps). Elite speed. Sounds like a 3rd-down back. Waived by Lions end of July, but signed by Vikings in early August.
  29. Marcus Thigpen: FA. A little small, but fast and very athletic and strong. Waived in August
  30. Quinn Johnson: Packers, 5th round. Blocking fullback. Not fantasy-relevant.
  31. Wynel Seldon: Redskins, FA. Good athleticism and strength, a little slow. Has chance to stick on special teams, but not fantasy relevant.
  32. Kestahn Moore: FA. Good size, and may play fullback in NFL. 4.5 speed at 225 lbs. Good blocker. Not fantasy relevant at this point, but has upside. Was waived by Broncos after OTAs, but has signed with Chargers, where he’s buried on depth chart.
  33. Kahlil Bell: Vikings, FA. Average size. Slow and not very strong. Will compete for special-teams role on Vikings, but not much else.
  34. Mike McClendon: Jaguars, FA. A little short, but well built. Average speed, but above-average strength. Could compete for backup role, but little chance of relevance.
  35. Kyle Bell:  FA. Great size and strength with fair speed. Good pass-catcher at pro day. Waived by Jaguars after OTAs.
  36. Nick Walker: FA. Good size, fast and athletic, but not very good routes. Good hands and excellent red-zone target. Waived by Vikings after OTAs.
  37. Tyrell Fenroy: FA. 5’8”, but 205 lbs. 4.5 speed, with good explosiveness and upper-body strength.  Cut by Bears after minicamp, and will play in UFL-Las Vegas.
  38. Anthony Kimble: Jets, FA. Good size. Slow. Not explosive or strong. Wasn’t impressive at Texas vs. the Nation game. Waived by Dolphins in late August and signed by Jets.
  39. Walter Mendenhall: FA. Brother of Steelers RB. Cut by Eagles after minicamp.
  40. Yonus Davis: San Jose St. Very short, but stocky. Very quick, but not strong. Not very productive in college. Has good hands. Will probably be a 3rd-down back.
  41. Brad Lester: Auburn 51
  42. Brandon Mason: Stony Brook. Great size.
  43. Stan Zwinggi: Tex. St. Good size, speed, explosiveness and strength.
  44. Keegan Herring: AZ St. Average size and good speed. Great athleticism and strength.
  45. Brandon Ore: West Liberty State. Good size with below-average speed.
  46. Charles Pierre: Florida Atlantic. 5’6.5”, but thickly built. 4.6 speed. Strong, but not very athletic
  47. DiIvory Edgecomb: Florida Atlantic. 5’7.5”, but thickly built. 4.5 speed
  48. Tristan Davis: Auburn. Elite speed, but very fragile in college. Only carried 8 times in 2008.
  49. Julian Reams: Fla. Int’l. Solid size.
  50. Jordan Scott: Colgate. OK size, but slower even than Gartrell Johnson.
  51. Jamie Fordham: Coastal Carolina. Good size, explosiveness, and strength, but 4.7 track speed.
  52. Mike Davis: SC. Short and stocky. 4.7 speed and weak upper body.
  53. Jorvorski Lane: Ate himself out of draft. Nearly 300 pounds. Showed no burst or strength. Seems to have no commitment to football. Had good quickness when he was lighter, and may be a good short-yardage back if he commits, but he was useless at Shrine Game. And showed nothing at pro day.
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