The 2012 NFL draft is just two weeks away and while much of the talk has revolved around quarterbacks Andrew Luck from Stanford and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, there are a handful of running backs that are positioned to make an immediate impact for whichever team decides to spend one of its picks to add them to its roster.
The name at the top of this list is Alabama’s Trent Richardson. After running for 1,679 yards last season with an average of 5.9 yards-per-carry, the 5-foot-11 220 lb back established himself as one of the top all-around players in this year’s draft. Richardson has been described as a tough and very physical runner, but he has also shown exceptional quickness to the hole and above-average straight-line speed. He has also shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield after racking-up 338 yards on 29 receptions this season for a Crimson Tide offense that was not known for throwing the ball.
Richardson has been projected to be the fourth overall pick in the draft to Cleveland on a few mock draft boards, but the majority of the draft experts have him going to Tampa Bay with the fifth overall pick.
After Richardson, the jury is still out of which back is the next best prospect on the list, but just about everyone agrees that Oregon’s LaMichael James belongs on the short list. At 5-foot-8 and 194 lbs, he is by no means the biggest back on this list, but James’ main claim to fame is his explosiveness off the ball and ability break-off a long run any time he touches the ball. He adds versatility to his skill-set with soft hands as a receiver and experience returning punts. The bottom line on this guy is that he is seen as a playmaker, which fits with any team’s offensive scheme.
James is projected as a mid to late second-round pick, possibly to Green Bay with the 59th overall selection, but he should go much lower than that.
During the 2011 season, Miami’s Lamar Miller was turning heads on a regular basis to establish himself as a potential first-round pick, but for no particular reason his stock has fell a bit over the past few months. He has the necessary size to play at the next level at 5-foot-11 and 212 lbs and above-average speed, but one of the biggest knocks has been his upright style of running. None the less, Miller has incredible quickness to the hole and the shiftiness to shed tackles. The scouts see him as a three-down back, which will also enhance his draft position.
While originally projected as a late first or early second round pick, look for Miller to go late in the second round, possibly to Cincinnati with the 53rd overall pick.
The final back on our list is Boise State’s Doug Martin, whose stock continues to rise as we get closer to the actual draft. At 5-foot-9 and 223 lbs he has the size to be an every down back in the NFL, but his true worth is the versatility he can add to the right team. He has a great combination of both speed and power running the ball, but he also has good hands, is a very capable blocker, and can contribute as a returner on special teams to make him a coveted ‘jack of all trades’ which is not always easy to find these days. The only knock on him has been his height, but that should have little impact on his chance to be very successful at the next level.
Martin is another second-round prospect that could go anywhere from early in the round to 50th overall or higher. However, whichever team decides to pull the plug on Martin will be adding an immediate playmaker to its roster.
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.