2011 NFL Draft Preview – Running Back

The 2011 NFL draft is a little more than a week away with first round action getting underway on Thursday night, April 28 live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday night and rounds four through seven will take place on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier this year over 300 of the nation’s top college prospects participated in the annual Scouting Combines in effort to showcase their talents and ability for a slew of NFL scouts. Since then, many of these players have continued to try and enhance their draft position through Pro Day and individual team workouts.

Each NFL team continues to diligently work on mapping out a draft day strategy that will focus on filling its most pressing needs. The following is a look at the top players available this year at the running back position.

Mark Ingram – Alabama

Ingram is clearly the class of this year’s prospects at the running back position and most likely the only one that will go in the first round of the draft. The former Heisman Trophy winner seems to be fully recovered from early season knee surgery that hampered his junior year. He turned in a 4.53 40 at his Pro Day workout which a bit faster than his Combine time. More than a few mock draft boards have him going to Miami with the 15th overall pick.

Ryan Williams – Virginia Tech

Williams has showed good speed at both his Combine and Pro Day workouts, but his ability to cut on a dime is what has attracted most of the scouts. He is listed at 5-foot-9 and 211 pounds and has added some bulk during the offseason that has not seemed to affect  his 40 time which came in at 4.55 at the Combine but a slightly faster 4.45 at his Pro Day workout. He could still be a late first-round selection,  but will most likely come off the board by the middle of the second round.

Daniel Thomas – Kansas State

Thomas’s stock has dropped over the past few weeks after straining a quad muscle at his Pro Day workout that caused his 40 time to balloon to 4.60. He has excellent size at 6-foot-0 and 211 pounds but has been criticized for an upright running style that exposes his legs to tacklers. Thomas will most likely still be on the board late in the second and would be a steal if he lasts until the early third.

Mikel Leshoure – Illinois

Some  draft experts have Leshoure as the second-best back available based on his pure physical talents, but a few off-field incidents have raised some character issues that have caused his stock to fall. He ran a 4.56 40 at the Combine which is not bad given his 6-foot-0 and 232 pound frame. He is known as a power runner and could be a three-down back in the right system. Leshoure could still go early in the second but will most likely still be on the board towards the end of that round.

Jordan Todman – Connecticut

Todman had an outstanding career with the Huskies, but many scouts continue to question how well will his talents translate to the pro game. He has good size and speed at 5-foot-9 and 203 pounds with a 4.44 40 at the Combine. He has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which should work to enhance his overall value, but he is a third-round pick at best and could easily slip into the early fourth.

Dave Schwab

DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.