2011 NFL Combine: Running Backs That Have A Lot To Gain And Lose

Drew's Note: Each day, I will present a new position leading us all the way up to the combine. Today's focus will be on the 2011 class of running backs.

Yesterday, I posted the position of quarterback and looked at a few players that could slip in the draft if they don't do well at this years Combine, and then those who have the world to gain. Today, I will be turning the focus to the running back position. 

Recently 49ers representatives stated that they would more than likely not be bringing long-time veteran Brian Westbrook back as the number two behind Frank Gore. This move leads most folks to believe that one of these guys will be drafted and wearing red and gold in the upcoming season (assuming there's no lockout).

The running back position seems to have become less of a priority in early rounds. It seems as though teams are now searching in the later rounds to find their starting running backs. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

This years running back class actually turned out to be pretty deep. It may wind up being stocked all the way from rounds 1 through 7. 

Even so, there are a few guys that actually have a lot to lose and then some on the other hand that can climb the ladder and make themselves a little bit of money.

Let's take a look at some of those guys...

RUNNING BACKS

Most to gain:

DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), 6'0", 214 LBS: It really astonishes that Murray is not ranked higher than he is on most people's boards. He had a phenomenal season, and a career that doesn't fall short of spectacular. Murray's stats speak on their own. Since 2008, Murray has had combined yardage totaling over 1000 yards in each season. This year, he had over 1200 yards on the ground with 15 Touchdowns. On top of that, the Oklahoma running back had 71 receptions for 594 yards with an additional 5 touchdowns. He has been consistent in his play for the last few years at OU. Should he do well at the combine, it wouldn't surprise me to see him leap frog a couple of the other guys pushing himself as the number two running back on the board. Murray would be an excellent fit in any type of offense due to his versatility. 

Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh), 5'8", 200 LBS: Just a year ago, Dion Lewis nearly broke the 2000 yard mark. However, this year was a bit of a drop off. He had to share time with sophomore Ray Graham who is an up and rising star in his own right. The carries were split, and Dion Lewis lost over 100 carries. The Combine is very important for Lewis to emerge a bit since he was sort of lost in the mix this season. 

Shane Vereen (California), 5'10", 202 LBS: Vereen picked up where Jahvid Best left off. There was no drop off in production. Vereen has all the physical tools to be a successful back in the NFL. And he has been flying a bit under the radar. Pulling together a solid combine in most of the events could catapult his stock by a round or two. He may not be a 1st rounder, that may be out of reach, but he may be able to get close. 

 

Most to lose:

Mikel LeShoure (Illinois), 6'0", 228 LBS: Players who only have one good year of college football are most susceptible to falling in the draft. As much havoc and chaos that LeShoure brought to the field last year, scouts and pro head coaches will be cautious and uneasy about the possibility of LeShoure being a one-hit-wonder. LeShoure could easily be a first rounder if he does well in the combine. But should he not do well in the evaluations, he could also easily slip to the 2nd or 3rd round for the very reasons stated above.

Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech) 5'10", 206 LBS: The production this year fell off from the previous year. Williams shared time with a healthy Darren Evans who will also be available in this draft. Evans was the starter before Williams and did one heckuva job. Since Williams was no longer the feature every-down back, his numbers dropped dramatically. He went from 1655 yards on the ground, 21 touchdowns the year before, to only 477 yards, and 9 touchdowns. It also didn't help matters much that he was out for 4 games in the middle of the season. If Williams can't show something at the combine, he could sail his way on down the draft boards.

Daniel Thomas (Kansas State), 6'2", 228 LBS: Thomas is a very big, very physical running back. But his drawback is that he is very slow. If he can't produce and acceptable 40-time in the combine, he will be passed over by a bunch of teams. Nobody is going to spend a high round pick on a back who will primarily be a goaline type of player. Right now, the estimated 40 times range from a low 4.6 to a low 4.7. Should he run close to the latter portion of that equation, he's going to slip and slide downward on the board with flailing arms.

 

Summary: There will be plenty of running backs to chose from. Some of them may not even be drafted. And some of those undrated players could turn out to be superstars. It's always possible. All of these guys will need to find a way to stand out from one and other which can be a hard task. With such a big crowd, it's not always the easiest thing to do.

 

Here are the rest of the invitees to this years combine:

ALLEN, ANTHONY

 

GEORGIA TECH

6

RB1

OH

DEVINE, NOEL

 

WEST VIRGINIA

6

RB10

OH

DRAUGHN, SHAUN

 

NORTH CAROLINA

6

RB11

OH

EVANS, DARREN

 

VIRGINIA TECH

6

RB12

OH

FANNIN, MARIO

 

AUBURN

6

RB13

OH

GREEN, ALEXANDER

 

HAWAII

6

RB14

OH

HARPER, JAMIE

 

CLEMSON

6

RB15

OH

HAVILI, STANLEY

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

6

RB16

FB

HELU, ROY

 

NEBRASKA

6

RB17

OH

HUNTER, KENDALL

 

OKLAHOMA ST

6

RB18

OH

HYNOSKI, HENRY

 

PITTSBURGH

6

RB19

FB

ALLEN, ARMANDO

 

NOTRE DAME

6

RB2

OH

INGRAM, MARK

 

ALABAMA

6

RB20

OH

JONES, TAIWAN

 

EASTERN WASHINGTON

6

RB21

OH

LESHOURE, MIKEL

 

ILLINOIS

6

RB22

OH

LEWIS, DION

 

PITTSBURGH

6

RB23

OH

LOCKE, DERRICK

 

KENTUCKY

6

RB24

OH

MARECIC, OWEN

 

STANFORD

6

RB25

FB

MURRAY, DEMARCO

 

OKLAHOMA

6

RB26

OH

POWELL, BILAL

 

LOUISVILLE

6

RB27

OH

RIDLEY, STEVAN

 

LOUISIANA ST

6

RB28

OH

RODGERS, JACQUIZZ

 

OREGON ST

6

RB29

OH

ASIATA, MATTHEW

 

UTAH

6

RB3

OH

ROYSTER, EVAN

 

PENN ST

6

RB30

OH

SAINE, BRANDON

 

OHIO ST

6

RB31

OH

SCOTT, DA'REL

 

MARYLAND

6

RB32

OH

SHERMAN, ANTHONY

 

CONNECTICUT

6

RB33

FB

TAUA, VAILALA

VAI

NEVADA

6

RB34

OH

THOMAS, DANIEL

 

KANSAS ST

6

RB35

OH

TODMAN, JORDAN

 

CONNECTICUT

6

RB36

OH

VEREEN, SHANE

 

CALIFORNIA

6

RB37

OH

WHITE, JOHNNY

 

NORTH CAROLINA

6

RB38

OH

WILLIAMS, RYAN

 

VIRGINIA TECH

6

RB39

OH

BERRY, DAMIEN

 

MIAMI-FL

6

RB4

OH

BRADFORD, ALLEN

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

6

RB5

OH

CARTER, DELONE

 

SYRACUSE

6

RB6

OH

CHAPAS, SHAUN

 

GEORGIA

6

RB7

FB

CLAY, JOHN

 

WISCONSIN

6

RB8

OH

COOPER, GRAIG

 

MIAMI-FL

6

RB9

OH

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