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My 2018 NFL Draft Runningback Rankings

I always have to mention this, these are not projections of where these players will go, rather where I personally think they should go. Unlike my prospect breakdowns, these round grades DO take into account positional importance, so you may notice Josh Allen is graded as 1st to 2nd round prospect rather than a 2nd to 3rd round grade.

#1 – Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Barkley is a rare talent that has the size, the speed, the power, the catching ability, he has practically everything, which is what you would need to get a first round grade in a running back class as deep as this one is. His 4.4 40 time is one of the best in the class among those with similar size.

Grade: Round 1

#2 – Derrius Guice, LSU

Guice runs angry with great 4.49 speed. He possesses great vision, and he is a violent runner and is great at escaping tacklers. His injury during the 2017 season has raised questions from scouts due to his previously mentioned violent running style.

Grade: Round 2

#3 – Sony Michel, Georgia

Michel can run or he can catch, and while he has top-notch speed to rip off big plays, he also has enough power to run through contact. By playing at Georgia and having another NFL-caliber running back in Nick Chubb always pushing him, he has faced great competition.

Grade: Round 2

#4 – Ronald Jones, USC

Jones has elite acceleration, great agility, nice lateral quickness, he basically has everything you could possibly want from a speed style runningback, he even has shown flashes catching passes out of the backfield. The biggest knock on Jones is his size (5’11”, 200 lbs)

Grade: Round 2

#5 – Nick Chubb, Georgia

Chubb was taken over by Sony Michel in most NFL Draft discussion after he had reconstructive knee surgery in 2015, but I still see him as a round two prospect because of his elite size and power running style that would fit right in on an NFL roster.

Grade: Round 2

#6 – Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

Johnson is a complete back that could start at the NFL level. He is big, but also is agile enough to spin or juke past defenders on occasion. Similarly to Guice, his violent running style has led to injury concerns, as he does tend to lead with his head.

Grade: Round 2-3

#7 – Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

Great outside runner, who can make plays when you give him an inch. He put up big numbers at San Diego State, coming on the NCAA leaderboard in rushing yards. Penny is very scheme versatile, but that also makes him a type of jack of all trades, but master of none.

Grade: Round 3

#8 – Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State

I think I’m a little higher on Hines than most, but his 4.38 40-yard dash time at the combine certainly put me on notice. Hines is certainly undersized, but he could fit in as runner, receiver, or even in the kick return game, although he does struggle as a blocker.

Grade: Round 3

#9 – John Kelly, Tennessee

Kelly is a tough guy to tackle because of his power running style, he started just one year at Tennessee, and he does not have the elite speed that many at the top of this class possess.

Grade: Round 3-4

#10 – Mark Walton, Miami

Walton is undersized at 5’10”, 188 and his injury that kept him out for the majority of the 2017 season will raise questions, but he has shown flashes as an elite reciever out of the backfield.

Grade: Round 3-4

#11 – Royce Freeman, Oregon

Freeman has great NFL size, and put up fantastic numbers all four years at Oregon, but a knee injury in 2016 led to him switching from an elusive style back to a more between-the-tackles type of guy.

Grade: Round 4

#12 – Kalen Ballage, Arizona State

Ballage is definitely somebody to keep an eye on. He is an incredible athlete and has the potential to be a difference maker as a receiver out of the backfield. He struggles to read defenses, but that can be fixed with NFL coaching.

Grade: Round 4-5

#13 – Akrum Wadley, Iowa

Wadley put up big numbers at Iowa as an elusive runner that was able to dismantle Big Ten defenses, but his size and lack of skills blocking-wise will mean he will never be a full starter at the NFL level.

Grade: Round 4-5

#14 – Bo Scarbrough, Alabama

Scarbrough is your classic one-cut running back. He can break off big runs, but he will be most effective in short yardage scenarios. He has good size, but does sometimes struggle as a blocker.

Grade: Round 5

#15 – Josh Adams, Notre Dame

A very productive back at Notre Dame with a great build, but like Scarbrough, he is very much a one-cut back, and also struggles in the blocking and pass-catching games.

Grade: Round 5

#16 – Jordan Wilkins, Ole Miss

Great acceleration will mean he could be a sleeper to be a value pickup for some team in the mid to late round three range. You do notice that he runs high, but that can be fixed.

Grade: Round 5-6

#17 – Jaylen Samuels, NC State

Samuels played running back, full back, receiver, and tight end at times for NC State, so I would expect some team to pick him up late day three as a utility player that could make an impact at a number of positions.

Grade: Round 6

#18 – Darrel Williams, LSU

Williams had an absolutely atrocious combine (4.72 40!!!) but his big build would be huge in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Grade: Round 6-UDFA

#19 – Justin Jackson, Northwestern

Jackson is a very agile rusher who hit the 1,000 yard mark multiple times in college. He is an elusive style runner that rarely breaks tackles.

Grade: Round 7-UDFA

#20 – Roc Thomas, Jacksonville State

Thomas is very scheme-versatile and possesses a variety of traits that could fit on any number of NFL rosters.

Grade: Round 7-UDFA

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