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2016 NFL Draft rankings: Top 10 running backs

Ranking the top 10 running backs in this year's draft class.

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
1. Ezekiel Elliot (Ohio State) | 6-foot-0, 225 pounds

Do I really need to explain myself here? Elliot is the consensus No. 1 running back on just about every list you’ll see. If you have him any lower, you’re either wrong or you know something everyone else doesn’t, but you’re probably just wrong. Elliot is a three-down back that can do everything at a high level, including catching out of the backfield and carrying out blocks in pass protection. He's a true top-10 talent that could hear his name called as early as Dallas’ No. 4 overall selection.

Zekey, Zekey, Zekey just jumped over Jumpman.

2. Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech) | 5-foot-10, 215 pounds

This move is illegal in 13 states.

The Dixon hype train is full-steam ahead and I thought I'd be the only one locking him in as my No. 2 RB, but many others have begun to do the same. Dixon sports a small, compact frame and runs with a low center of gravity. He exudes great patience and vision with impressive feet and lateral agility, making him a fit for any offensive scheme. I also love that Dixon a true north/south runner that rarely leaves yards on the field. He keeps his legs churning and is hungry for those extra yards. This kid is a stud and an immediate starter in the NFL.

3. Derrick Henry (Alabama) | 6-foot-2, 242 pounds

All of this talk about Derrick Henry "not being fast enough" is nonsense. He's going to absolutely light up the combine. I was, however, quite confused when I saw Henry announce that he wanted to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Not only is that a poor choice in teams, but I just don't see him as a snug fit for a zone-blocking scheme. He lacks the desired lateral quickness and is much better suited for a gap-blocking scheme.

Henry is a Heisman winner and a bowling ball in the backfield. He loves contact and runs with authority, making him a tough target to bring down. Although it takes him a little time to hit his full speed, there's no catching him when he reaches full throttle. Henry exhibits impressive wiggle for a RB of his size and dishes out a deadly stiff arm. He's going to make some NFL team very happy in the second round.

Henry also brings the "good character" label to whichever team that drafts him. During the National Championship game, Henry and the Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up to bring Mark Ingram along for the ride (the child in the photo below).

4. C.J. Prosise (Notre Dame) | 6-foot-1, 220 pounds

Prosise caught us all off guard with his phenomenally quick learning curve at RB. Although he's not quite there yet, he displays a tremendous amount of upside and showed flashes of brilliance in the Irish's zone-running scheme. He's a former wide receiver that can make plays in the passing game and the running game. Think of him as a better, more athletic version of Theo Riddick coming out of college. Some obvious concerns with Prosise is his lack of experience, as well as his lack of ball security. During his first year as a RB, he fumbled the ball five times (two lost) on 156 carries.

5. Devontae Booker (Utah) | 5-foot-11, 212 pounds

Devontae Booker is a lot of fun to watch on the football field and is a true swiss-army knife in the backfield. He's a scheme-versatile runner and may be the most effective pass-catching RB in this year's class. There are a few things that may hurt his stock, however. For one, he'll be a 24-year-old rookie. He's also had some durability issues due to his heavy workload in college and is coming off of a torn meniscus that he had surgery on back in November of last year.

6. Jordan Howard (Indiana) | 6-foot-1, 225 pounds

Howard was an odd fit for Indiana's fast-paced, zone-running scheme, but he made the most of it and finished third in the Big Ten with 1,213 rushing yards for 6.2 yards per carry. He's not much of a one-cut back and I like him a lot more in a gap/power-blocking scheme due to his punishing running style and mentality. Howard is a north/south runner with impeccable balance and is a load to bring down. He's one of the best pure runners in this class, but struggles as a blocker and did not get many opportunities in the passing game for the Hoosiers.

7. Jonathan Williams (Arkansas) | 5-foot-11, 219 pounds

Williams is one of two talented Arkansas backs on this list (the other happens to be next) and despite missing the entire 2015 season due to a foot injury, I believe he can be the steal of the draft if his health checks out. He wins with his quick feet and sudden movements, which caused him to force 44 missed tackles in 2014 (stat via Williams has some very impressive burst, and once he finds his lane and hits that top speed, it's like trying to bring down a semi-truck.

8. Alex Collins (Arkansas) | 5-foot-11, 218 pounds

The other Razorback, Alex Collins, has a similar build to him as Williams, though not quite the same runner. Collins reminds me of Joique Bell in his prime in Detroit with fresh legs. He's a model of consistency and exhibits remarkable balance, always keeping his legs moving and falling forward. Collins wasn't given many opportunities as a receiver out of the backfield and was a poor blocker from the limited tape I've seen, so he may be limited to being a 2-down back at the next level. I really like him in a "closer" type role, much like what Joique Bell was for the Lions (possible replacement?).

9. Kelvin Taylor (Florida) | 5-foot-10, 205 pounds

Kelvin is the son of former Jaguar Fred Taylor. Though he's a bit smaller than his pops, and has appeared to max out his frame, he's a scheme-versatile back with impressive quickness and vision. He has the ability to stick his foot in the ground and cut on a dime, like so:

Taylor is a reliable back that has never fumbled during his collegiate career. The most important thing for him is whether his body will hold up in the big leagues. He's dealt with some hamstring and ankle problems and looks a tad flimsy from the waist down.

10. Paul Perkins (UCLA) | 5-foot-10, 210 pounds

Perkins is a very interesting case to me. He executes some of the nastiest jukes I've seen since LeSean McCoy and is nearly impossible to tackle 1-on-1. However, he's slower than an asthmatic snail on tape and lacks that extra gear you'd really hope to see. I view Perkins as nothing more than a solid rotational two-down back with nothing to offer in pass protection. He could be a nice addition for a team in the fourth round that's looking for some RB depth.


2016 Positional Rankings: Quarterback

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