Most scouts believe this to be the deepest class of running backs we have seen in a long time. We could see a lot of starters or role players come from this class in a few years. My series on evaluating each positional group in the NFL Draft continues with the running backs. Who is the best player in the position group? Safest pick? Boom-or-bust pick? Underrated? Sleepers? Let’s dive in!
Best Player in the Position Group: Leonard Fournette (LSU)
The size and build compared to the athletic traits makes Fournette a very unique specimen. He has surprising speed to counter his physical type play that could make him special. His ceiling is as high as he wants it to be as long as he stays healthy. He can be just like Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley and take over early in his career.
Safest Pick: Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)
I’ll be honest, at the very beginning of the process of evaluating 2017 NFL Draft prospects, I was not sure what I thought about McCaffrey. The more tape I’ve seen and the measurables that he has presented during the combine having me think he is a very safe selection for a team. The reason I say that is because if you stick to what kind of player he is and translate that into the NFL, he won’t disappoint. He is an above-average between-the-tackles runner, but not going to do 25 carries a game. He will scare linebackers in the passing game when he releases from the backfield and has extremely natural hands. A team that views him as a 10-15 carry a game player who can be a receiver out of the backfield (or even slot), will be very happy.
Boom-Or-Bust Pick: D’Onta Foreman (Texas)
He had a stellar year at Texas to put himself on the map. I’m just concerned about his fumbling issues and maybe being a little soft as a in between-the-tackles runner. The question will be if a team can fix that through a strength program, or will use him as a duo with another running back. He may always be a back who shies away from contact and miss out on making big plays for the offense.
Wayne Gallman is a one-cut physical presence at the line of scrimmage. He will grind out yards and create extra yardage with his effort. The key with Gallman is his physicality that will help in the pass protection game along with his hands out of the backfield. This is what makes him underrated as he can do a lot of things for a team looking for a physical back who can stay on the field in multiple sets and situations.
Brian Hill could be a very solid three-down back in the NFL. He plays well between the tackles, has a nice finishing burst and can quickly change direction. He also has proven he can catch balls out of the backfield and make plays in the receiving game. He is overlooked due to going to an outlier school like Wyoming.
Sleeper: De’Angelo Henderson (Coastal Carolina)
I am extremely intrigued by Henderson. He is only 5-foot-7, but is a bowling ball in between the tackles. He will be hard to see behind the line of scrimmage with his smaller stature and will barrel through a lane in the offensive line with a fury. He has quick twitch ability to make it difficult to bring him down in a crowd. If he makes it through with a lane to the endzone, he has enough speed to finish and take it to the house.