2013 NFL Draft: RB Athletic Report Card

April 1st, 2013

Knile Davis has it all from an athletic standpoint to be a franchise back. (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

Running back isn’t a glaring need, but is solidly in the second tier or roster concerns for Gang Green. Bilal Powell flashed some power, but in general the deterioration of the offense and Sanchez in particular can be traced back to a lack of a running game.

Adding a speedy, explosive change of pace option and another complete power back could go a long way in reviving the early success of Ryan’s first few years at the helm.

Running Backs:

1. Knile Davis ARKANSAS
5’11 (3/8)

40 Time: 4.37
3 Cone: 6.96
Shuttle: 4.38
Reps: 31
Vertical: 33.5

Athletic Grade: A

My #2 RB to start the year had an inconsistent, fumble prone junior year but the physical traits are certainly impressive. A first round talent and tireless worker Davis’ stock has been hurt by the aforementioned fumble issues as well as ankle and knee injuries. A 4.37 40 will turn some heads, especially on a 227 pound frame, but that potential has been known to exist ever since he lead the SEC in rushing in a stellar sophomore season. There is a lot of risk involved but the payout could be a franchise level back.

2. Christine Michael TEXAS A&M

40 Time: 4.54
3 Cone: 6.69
Shuttle: 4.02
Reps: 27
Vertical: 43

Athletic Grade: A

A real physical specimen who fell out of favor down in College Station and saw limited action this year, has the tools to have a much better pro career than is college career was. A combine best 43 inch vertical, 6.69 cone, and 4.02 shuttle makes a solid 4.54 look disappointing. All at 220 pounds that gives him the power to be a complete workhorse type back. All of the previous highlights are a great indication of his athletic potential. That burst shows up on tape along with the strength to excel both inside and out of the tackles.

3. Marcus Lattimore SOUTH CAROLINA
5’11 (1/4)

DNP Combine

Athletic Grade: B+

Lattimore isn’t at his best physically at the moment due to a torn ACL, but when at full strength he is considered by most the best running back prospect this year. He probably wouldn’t have ran a blazing 40 (somewhere in the 4.5 range) as his unique blend of size and strength with agility is potent. Hopefully Lattimore can round back into shape because he could a solid NFL starting back.

4. Zac Stacy VANDY
5’8 (3/8)

40 Time: 4.55
3 Cone: 6.70
Shuttle: 4.17
Reps: 27
Vertical: 33

Athletic Grade: B

Stacy posted a second best 6.70 on the 3 cone drill for the running back position, a good indicator of change of direction skills and short area acceleration. A physical back who can punish defenders inside also flashed solid speed at 4.55 and that combine performance added to a productive career in the SEC could push him to the mid round range.

5. Michael Ford LSU
5’9 (1/2)

40 Time: 4.50
3 Cone: 6.87
Shuttle: 4.25
Reps: 25
Vertical: 38.5

Athletic Grade: B

After a solid, but not special year for the Tigers Ford helped himself by showing up well at the combine. A 4.50 40 and an all around smooth athletic display should help the 5’9 210 pound back towards hearing his name called in April. He should see some touches at the next level and brings a nice mix of speed, vision, balance, and quickness to the table.

T-6. Giovani Bernard UNC
5’8 (3/8)

40 Time: 4.53
3 Cone: 6.91
Shuttle: 4.12
Reps: 19
Vertical: 33.5

Athletic Grade: B

The super sophomore was incredibly productive for the Tar Heels displaying the balance and burst to make big plays running, catching out of the backfield and on returns. Bernard is a compact back with a low center of gravity making him hard to bring down and find in traffic. 4.53 isn’t blazing but more than enough for a running back and when you factor in a super quick 4.12 seconds in the 20 yard shuttle (3rd among RB), which is maybe a better evaluation tool as it simulates the quick change of direction and explosion skills that set backs apart. Its easy to see why scouts rate Bernard among the five best running backs prospects.

T-6. Johnathan Franklin UCLA

40 Time: 4.49
3 Cone: 6.89
Shuttle: 4.31
Reps: 18
Vertical: 31.5

Athletic Grade: B

Franklin was the main power source for the surge the Bruins made this past year under Jim Mora Jr. He was a consistent game breaker capable up picking up steam quickly with just an inch of daylight and is so smooth in changing directions. After a very impressive combine, including a sub 4.5 40, Franklin is working his way into the top five discussion among the running back ranks.

Tags: christine michael, knile davis, michael ford

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