Top 12 running backs in 2017 NFL draft with profiles, overall rank, and comparisons.

I just finished my top 100 draft rankings and profiles. I thought I would throw it up here and see what other people thought. I watched at least 3 full games of film for each prospect and the top ones many more. Positional rankings are followed by overall rankings in parenthesis.

WR rankings here

Edge rankings here

RB1 (11) Leonard Fournette- LSU 6’0" 240 -4.51. No 1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school. Complete back that does it all. Pass protection is as good as it gets, also can catch out of the backfield but is tight hipped on routes. Plays angry and gets better and better as the game goes on. Always positive yards on every run. Can be patient and set up blocks but can also bulldoze through the hole. Under rated cut back ability and has great vision. Runs behind his pads and shows great balance through contact. Top end speed isn’t elite but is good enough to break 3 50+ yarders in one game vs Ole Miss in 2016.

NFL comparison- Slower Bo Jackson

RB2 (12) Joe Mixon- OU 6’1" 226 -4.43(non-combine). Character concerns big time and this is ranking is based on film alone. Definition of a 3 down back. Insane body control and athleticism for his size. Great receiver that pulls in one handed catches with ease. Open field running is amazing and rarely gets caught. Prototypical NFL body that could hold up to a heavy workload. Great burst through the hole and breakaway speed to use after. Makes people miss in small spaces. Does not seem to pass protect but runs routes on almost 100% of pass plays. Against Ohio State they kept him in for protection and it didn’t go well, more of a get in the way guy. Lots of upper body strength that shows when he runs with a great stiff arm and swipe move. Will fit any offensive system and could be an every down back or a change of pace guy. Has a few concentration drops.

NFL comparison- Leveon Bell

RB3 (13) Christian McCaffrey- Stanford 5’11" 202 -4.48. Son of former NFL WR Ed McCaffrey. His sophomore year he put up 3,864 all purpose yards a NCAA record. Jack of all trades that can line up everywhere. Exceptional WR that could make a career as a slot WR, however will probably be a day one starter as a 3rd down/ passing back. Great in pass protection. Seems too small for short yardage work but is very productive in that role. Natural pass catcher that seems comfortable running majority of the route tree. Great 1 cut runner that sets up his open field cuts with an amazing stutter step. Great stop-start acceleration. Dangerous in the return game, both punt and kick. Goes all out every play. Best vision and decision making I have ever seen in a RB. Way too many carries in his college career even though he never seems to take on big hits. Makes people miss in small spaces and runs through Dline tackles on the regular.

NFL comparison- Gio Bernard + Greg Jennings

RB4 (29) Dalvin Cook- FSU 5’10" 210 -4.49. Character concerns big time. Great speed and elusiveness. Seems to dance too much instead of hitting the hole. When he makes only 1 cut he usually gets great gains. Turnover machine and misses assignments consistently. More of a get in the way guy when pass blocking. At his best when he is in space, he can but doesn’t seem to like running in between the tackles. Boom or bust type of player. If he finds any space he turns it into an explosive play, definition of a play maker. Lined up some at WR and is a more than capable receiver. Defenders underestimate his speed and consistently take bad angles. Has all the tools to be elite but has too many mental errors, not sure if it is coaching or mental focus. When there is a clear cut hole and he hits it, it is quite impressive. Needs a simple playbook and clear defined holes would not want in a zone scheme. Does not lose any speed when making cuts.

NFL comparison- Tevin Coleman

RB5 (39) Alvin Kamara- Tennessee 5’10" 214 -4.56. Character concerns with Alabama then played CC ball. Amazing balance and usually takes several defenders to bring him down. Runs hard every play and tries to score every time he touches the ball. Great receiver that catches the ball naturally. Hates running out of bounds. Better receiver than pass protector. Good stutter step to set up running lanes. Very fluid athlete and looks smooth at all times. Broke about 10 tackles in the 1st quarter of the Vanderbilt game.

NFL comparison- Bryce Brown

RB6 (54) D’ontae Foreman- Texas 6’1" 249 -4.45 (non-combine). Rushed for over 2000 yards this year and won the Doak Walker award for best RB in the nation. Huge workload last season and was able to stay relatively healthy. Runs soft for his size, plays under his pads but runs through tacklers with is strong legs. Very fast for his size and seems to prefer running off tackle. Decent in pass pro but not great and doesn’t seem to offer much as a receiver outside of basic screens. Great 1 cut runner with great top end speed to break the big play. Ball security issues.

NFL comparison- Terrence West with more size and speed

RB7 (68) Kareem Hunt- Toledo 5’10" 216 -4.62. Goes forward at all times. Makes cuts while maintaining north-south momentum. Good pass protector and is a capable receiver. Plays all out and gets tougher and tougher as the game goes on. Maybe his best game came in the Senior Bowl against elite talent. His game will translate well to the NFL because does not make mistakes and always gets positive yards. Skillset to play all 3 downs in the NFL might not have the body to withhold the workload however.

NFL comparison- Poor man’s Frank Gore

RB8 (69) Samaje Perine-OU 5’11" 233 -4.65. Bowling ball style runner that is always falling forward. Great in pass protection. Runs hard and always plays behind his pads. Hits the hole whether there is an opening or not. Decent open field speed but that’s not really his specialty. No false steps or hesitation, he is a pure power guy. Will excel in early down and short yardage situations, but because of elite pass protection could serve a specific role on 3rd down.

NFL comparison- MJD

RB9 (70) Wayne Gallman-Clemson 6’0" 215 -4.6- Named Co-MVP for Clemson with Deshaun Watson. Upright running style that loves contact. Zero hesitation in his game and seems to increase in speed upon contact. Very active feet and attack mentality in pass protection. NFL ready body that gives out punishment as much as he takes it. Refuses to run out of bounds. When he gets the chance to block he tries to kill the defender. Ultimate competitor and team player. Very fun to watch but wish he had a better 40 time.

NFL comparison- Poor man’s Todd Gurley

RB10 (94) Joe Williams- Utah 5’11" 210 -4.41. Military Academy kid that got in trouble with credit card theft. 333 yds and 4 TDs vs UCLA. Retired from football before coming back and dominating. Crazy breakaway speed and is at his best when he gets to the second level. Great jump cut and hits the hole with both hands on the ball. Has concentration drops as a receiver, he seems focused on getting more yards before he catches the ball. Runs angry and violent, he is not very smooth. Tends to go low and cut block on pass pro way too much, he won’t be able to do that in NFL.

NFL comparison- Quicker Bernard Pierce

RB11 (96) Jeremy McNichols-Boise St 5’9" 214 -4.49. Played as a WR and returner when Jay Ajayi was in front of him. Lots of quick-short steps through the hole and jump cuts a lot. Not a lot of play speed but shows good acceleration. Timid pass protector who is much better used going on routes. Likes contact when the ball is in his hands but seems timid on routes or in pass protection. Tracks the ball well as a receiver. Doesn’t break a lot of tackles but when there is a hole he hits it hard. Not sure if game will translate to next level outside of a change of pace back but might not have the play-speed to play that role.

NFL comparison- Montee Ball

RB12 (97) Marlon Mack- South Florida 5’11" 213 -4.5. Definition of shifty with crazy hip movements. Doesn’t like contact but is willing to pass protect. More of a get in the way guy when it comes to blocking. Way too many cuts per run, often times losses yards because he won’t fall forward. Runs with a purpose when he is close to the goal line, wish he always ran that way. Change of pace back at best. Highlight reel is much better than his game tape. At his best when he is in space. Not a natural pass catcher but makes great things happen when he does catch it.

NFL comparison- Slower Jerick Mckinnon

Curtis Samuel is in my WR rankings

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.