Modified 4/16 1. C.J. Spiller, Clemson. 5?11?, 196 pounds, 4.31 40. Positives: Has elite speed and exceptional acceleration. Surprisingly muscular and he plays much bigger than his size. Great vision and has a natural feel for finding holes and cutting off blocks and setting up moves. Good pad level with high knees and strong, quick feet. Not afraid to lower the shoulder. Has a rare ability to get to the corner and go from east-west to north-south in a heartbeat. His top speed in an instant and can sustain his top burst longer than most. Good receiver with solid hands; has lined up in the slot and even at flanker. Decent route runner that changes speeds well to get separation, though his footwork gets lazy. Solid pass blocker that can stonewall a blitz (ask Eric Norwood!). Has shared the load as part of a talented tandem, which means he is used to sharing carries and fresher than most others. Offers Pro Bowl potential as a return man--ran back the opening kickoff of the season for a TD. Strong character and an Academic All-ACC performer. Stayed mentally strong and emerged as a good leader following a traumatic 2008 season which saw the coach fired and the QB benched mid-season. Negatives: Ball security is questionable; carries the ball loosely and will let it drift outside his core too easily. Will try too hard for the long run when a short plunge might be the better option--not all the time, but enough that he needs to learn it. Has shown some dropsies when asked to catch in traffic (see Wake game in 08). Has had some minor injury issues and is not a big back, raising durability questions. Appears to lose focus for short periods, particularly in both pass protect and route running, though to be fair most of that stems from the ?lost? 2008 Clemson season. NFL Comparison: A sturdier Felix Jones with Chris Johnson potential. Forecast: Will be the first RB taken, anywhere between #3 and #15 overall. If he happens to fall below that, it?s not a reflection on Spiller but rather a function of the over-saturation of the RB position. 2. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State. 6?0?, 217 pounds, 4.39 40. Positives: Physically imposing inside-out runner with good burst and quick acceleration. Strong runner with good forward lean and great balance. Takes hits and rarely goes down on first contact. Has a variety of shoulder and hip moves that he deploys effectively. Has the burst and vision to bounce outside and/or cut back and find the big opening. Never stops driving his legs and has the strength to move the pile. Runs with an attacking, aggressive style. Seems to always fall forward and finishes off his runs. Decent receiver who is comfortable flaring out, looks the ball into his hands nicely. Has a confidence and tangible hunger to him, very driven. Respects the game and studies great runners, high football IQ. Negatives: Runs too upright at times, presents himself as a larger target than necessary. Has not been real effective in short-yardage situations, due in part to poor pad level. Leaves his feet too quickly. Needs work on his blocking technique and tenacity; willing and able to make the correct read and initial hit, but struggles after that. Lacks elite long speed, though he can get a long way before anyone catches him. Needs to hit the weight room for his lower body with the obvious vigor he has applied to his upper body; legs look almost artificially small compared to his chest and shoulders. Doesn?t really lack strength but it would help his durability. Has some legit durability concerns, missing several games and parts of others due to concussion, ankle, and shoulder injuries. NFL Comparison: stylistically he?s similar to Adrian Peterson but not as dynamic or violently fast. Forecast: Fits in the 20-40 overall range 3. Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss. 5?8.5?, 171 pounds, 4.45 40. Positives: Cat-like agility and quickness. Great acceleration and shiftiness. Creative as a runner, reads and sets up blocks masterfully. Almost freakish balance, and he can maintain balance upon contact. Strong-legged for a smaller back. Runs with great vision and instinct. Changes speeds effectively. Fierce competitor with a good fight/size of dog ratio. Accomplished receiver who spent time playing wideout at Ole Miss. Very good hands and runs crisp routes like a veteran slot receiver, though he was not asked to do much in the way of route trees or options. Good downfield blocker. Has proven a very electrifying return man with great agility and vision. Negatives: Undersized both in height and weight, though he is more solidly built than comparably sized backs. Lacks great top-end speed. Shifted between positions and spent more time in college as a receiver than RB. Needs refinement on the intricacies of playing receiver. Lacks bulk and strength as a blocker, can do little more than chip and annoy in pass protect. Missed a lot of time early with a shoulder problem. NFL Comparison: Percy Harvin, a smaller Reggie Bush-like hybrid RB/WR. Forecast: Strong workouts and postseason buzz put him solidly in the second round. Could be the best overall weapon in this draft class, but he?s not a 20-carry-a-game feature back. 4. Toby Gerhart, Stanford. 6?0?, 230 pounds, 4.58 40. Positives: Great interior runner with a nose for the small crease. Runs with great balance and powerful legs. Generally keeps low and has solid pad level. Not afraid of contact and will deliver hits while he runs. Very hard to bring down; twists and turns with choppy knees and strong drive. Has very fluid hips and strong core strength. Very adept at catching the ball in awkward positions, strong hands. Hard to bring down at the second level, too powerful for most DBs. Decent in pass protection, but he?s a better downfield blocker that isn?t afraid to hustle down and help his receivers. Solid character with a great work ethic and positive attitude. Great natural athlete--was an exceptional baseball prospect. Negatives: Lacks speed and burst to break runs outside or make the long run in the NFL. Not real shifty in the open field, much better in the fray. Will choose contact instead of trying to slip the tackler when it?s not always the right choice. Not a real strong blocker for a guy some (not me) think is a hybrid RB/FB. Missed a year with a major knee injury, though he has not missed any time in the last two seasons. NFL Comparison: Tim Hightower without the long speed Forecast: 2nd rounder to a team that sees him as the ?thunder? back in a shared backfield; 3rd rounder as a feature back. That seems counter-intuitive, but that?s the way NFL teams look at RBs these days. The more I saw him on film, the more I liked him. 5. Montario Hardesty, Tennessee. 5?11?, 225 pounds, 4.52 40. Positives: Aggressive north-south runner with good bulk and surprising burst for a bigger guy. Thickly muscled both in the torso and upper legs. Quickly recognizes the hole and gets through with good balance and anticipation. Nimble feet, can shuffle to the side and jump cut. Has enough strength to take a hit and keep moving forward. Good stutter-step move that he explodes out of nicely. Better than most in pass protect, reads the rush and finds the proper target. Keeps his feet moving when blocking and understands how to chip block when coming out of the backfield. Flashed good hands and adequate route awareness as a senior, though prior to that had very little experience as a receiver. Negatives: Durability is a major issue; had fewer carries in his first four injury-plagued years at Tennessee than he did in his breakout 5th year. Runs upright at top speed. Lacks great speed and can?t sustain his top speed to break the long run. Has a tendency to leave his feet when he doesn?t need to. Doesn?t make the first defender miss very often, relies on his strength and poor tackling form to get inside yards. NFL Comparison: Kevin Jones Forecast: Could sneak into the bottom of the 2nd round, but 3rd-4th is more likely based on his injury history and lack of proven production. Could be a steal if he can stay healthy and not get overused. 6. Jahvid Best, California. 5?10?, 199 pounds, 4.38 40. Summary: Hard-charging one-cut slasher with very good speed. Patient runner that reads blocks well and makes good decisions to find the best hole. Quick feet and very good burst at breaking out of cuts. Has home-run speed and an extra gear when being chased. Good receiver with strong hands and experience in the passing game. Has a bad habit of running too far over his pads, which leads to balance issues. Goes down on first contact too readily, does not make tacklers miss; his only real move is speed. Lacks strength running between the tackles. Missed significant time with a concussion and his slender build leads to durability questions. Forecast: Will be drafted in the 30-50 overall range, probably belongs in the 60-100 range. 7. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech. 5?11?, 229 pounds, 4.68 40. Summary: Big-framed, triple-option power back. The more I watched of him, the less I liked his NFL potential. He hits the hole hard but lacks hip wiggle and doesn?t always see the correct cut or crease. Relies on his bulk to absorb hits and get yards, which is far easier to do in college from a triple-option offense where he almost always met the first attacker one-on-one. Does have some slipperiness to bounce outside, and he has quick feet for his size. Lacks breakaway speed and his relatively poor short shuttle and 10-yard split times indicate a lack of explosiveness. Not real strong and his body is not well-defined or athletic-looking. Very limited experience as a receiver and pass protector, though he has shown acumen at both. Think a latter-day Jamal Lewis; can be a very effective inside runner behind a strong OL, but without it he?s not an asset. Forecast: His sub 4.6 40 times at his pro day probably kept him in the 2nd round. 8. Ben Tate, Auburn. 5?11?, 223, 4.45 40. Summary: Looks the part of an elite athlete; tightly muscled, defined upper body with good flexibility and very good speed. Runs hard with good pad level and balance. Reads his blocks effectively and has the vision to cut back and find open spaces. Decent receiver that catches the ball with his hands and quickly transitions from catcher to runner. Not overly elusive. Has a nasty habit of stopping his feet upon contact. Not bad in pass protect but needs some work. Speed is very good but not sudden, and he doesn?t always appear to run at top speed. NFL Comparison: A thicker Maurice Morris. Forecast: 3rd-4th round with decent sleeper potential. 9. LeGarrette Blount, Oregon. 6?0.5?, 238 pounds, 4.61 40. Summary: Very upright, thickly built power back. Very assertive north-south runner who explodes through the hole and runs with high knees and violence. Long stride, which serves him well in the open field but clogs him up in the trenches. Lacks great vision, prefers to plow into the hole he expected. Has little trouble breaking arm tackles and won?t hesitate to ram into a defender. Exceptional stiff arm. Has done little as a receiver and is a major project in pass protection. Runs very high and with stiff shoulders, doesn?t make defenders miss and presents a big target. Was suspended for punching a player in the 2009 opener, which tops a laundry list of character concerns that will red flag him for many teams. NFL Comparison: LeRon McClain as a runner. Forecast: 3rd round talent, but how severely teams weigh his off-field concerns could drop him into the 6th-7th rounds. 10. Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State. 6?0.5?, 233 pounds, 4.74 40. Summary: Bulky interior power back with great size and intensity. Plays bigger than his size but has decent hip flexibility and feet for his bulk. Decent burst, great balance out of his cuts. Does a good job of locating the hole and getting north-south quickly. Cannot sustain his burst and sorely lacks top-end speed. Not as powerful of a runner as you would expect for his size. Has a lot of mileage on the tires--over 900 college carries and nearly every one was between the tackles taking lots of hits. Will catch the ball if thrown to but offers little after the catch. Not real adept in pass protect, doesn?t move his feet well when blocking. NFL Comparison: A taller, heavier Mike Hart Forecast: 3rd-4th round, but there?s a lot of miles on those tires. 11. Joe McKnight, USC--straight-linish speedster that peaked early as an athlete, but has shown enough vision, versatility, and production to make a nice #2 NFL back. Great acceleration and very smooth, fluid runner. 3rd-4th round. 12. Joique Bell, Wayne State--prolific big back in D-II?s answer to the SEC. Good-not-great speed, good pad level, has some wiggle and can catch the ball. Vision, burst, and pass blocking are all subpar. Good middle-round sleeper as a ?thunder? back. 13. Shawnbrey McNeal, SMU--track star-turned-RB with very good outside burst and good enough hands to handle being a RB/slot receiver hybrid. Rarely breaks tackles and isn?t real elusive for a smaller back. Very slightly built upper body. Reminds me a lot of a skinny Aveion Cason. 5th-6th round. 14. Dmitri Nance, Arizona State--bowling-ball type power back with good hips and balance. When he attacks he?s been very productive but tends to run too tentatively and soft for his size. Good receiver with nice feet for a big guy. 5th-6th round with potential to blossom for a coach that pushes the right buttons. 15. Curtis Steele, Memphis--angular slasher with decent speed and vision. Respected leader and worker in a down program that had to fight for every yard. Not much wiggle and he lacks power, but he?s got patience and sets up his blocks nicely. Has some Mewelde Moore to his game. 6th-7th rounder. 16. James Starks, Buffalo--missed 2009 with a shoulder injury, but the powerful inside-out runner has some potential. Has an interesting style where he runs very upright, then coils down and explodes into tacklers, and has quick enough feet to make ?em miss at times too. Good receiver and athlete, decent vision. Would be ranked higher if he didn?t have the shoulder injury and could be a pleasant surprise if it?s fine. 5th-7th rounder with promise. 17. Lonyae Miller, Fresno State--quick-footed, well-built athlete that runs hard but with blinders on. Played behind Ryan Mathews so his legs are fresh. Needs lots of work in the passing game, but has shown he can return kicks and block. 6th-7th rounder that could make it as a special teams ace. 18. Deji Karim, Southern Illinois--short, thickly built pinball-type runner with good vision and balance. Not elusive or speedy and not real strong for his mass. 7th rounder 19. Darius Marshall, Marshall--sleek one-cut runner with great acceleration and instincts. Good hands and shiftiness that offers nice potential as a 3rd down back, but has some character issues and is small-framed. 6th-7th round. 20. Charles Scott, LSU--chunky power back that runs like his shoes are on fire, wildly banging into and off of tacklers. His feet never stop and he has the power to move the pile, but he rarely makes anyone miss and has taken a real pounding for the amount of carries he?s logged. Broken collarbone has been slow to heal and bears close scrutiny. Was a 3rd-4th round talent before the shoulder injury, which might lead him to go undrafted. 21. Stafon Johnson, USC 22. Roy Upchurch, Alabama 23. Andre Dixon, Connecticut 24. Chris Brown, Oklahoma 25. Pat Paschall, North Dakota State