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Top running backs often wait on draft day

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Charles Sims, WVU running back

Scouting the running backs

1. Carlos Hyde

Ohio State, 5-11 1 2 , 230

The first 1,000-yard rusher in an Urban Meyer offense, Hyde ran for 1,527 yards and 15 TDs despite being suspended for the first three games in 2013. Total of 2,497 yards and 31 TDs last two seasons. Excellent downhill-running power back who looks like this year's version of Packers' Eddie Lacy.

2. Jeremy Hill

LSU, 6-0 1 2 , 233

Ran for 1,401 yards and 16 TDs in 2013; 6.9 average was an SEC record. Strong straight-ahead runner. Multiple off-field issues (sexual assault and hitting a teammate), which might scare away some teams.

3. Ka'Deem Carey

Arizona, 5-9, 207

Gained 1,885 yards last season after leading Division I with 1,929 yards in 2012. Some teams convinced he doesn't have enough acceleration, and Rich Rodriguez-coached RBs don't have a good NFL history. Like Hill, dealt with off-field issues.

4. Tre Mason

Auburn, 5-8 1 2 , 207

Compares himself to Marshawn Lynch, and he broke Bo Jackson's single-season school record with 1,816 yards (and 23 TDs) in '13. Has 4.5 speed. Probably won't be able to put on more weight, which could be a liability in NFL. Isn't a good blocker.

5. Jerick McKinnon

Ga. Southern, 5-8 1 2 , 209

Played QB and RB in college, running for 2,867 yards the last two seasons, with 829 career passing yards. Works hard in weight room. Even played some DB. Must prove to NFL he can produce as traditional RB.

6. Andre Williams

Boston College, 5-11, 230

Doak Walker Award winner after rushing for 2,177 yards on a Le'Veon Bell-like 355 carries in ‘13. 4.54 in 40. Fourth in Heisman voting. Rarely catches passes and sometimes can't power through an initial hit.

7. Bishop Sankey

Washington, 5-9 1 2 , 209

Big numbers, with 1,870 yards in '13 and 3,309 last two seasons. Good lateral moves but not a power runner, so he probably won't be a 20-carries-per-game back. Third-leading rusher in school history.

8. Terrance West

Towson, 5-9, 225

Rare FCS back who left school early. Carried a remarkable 413 times for FCS-record 2,509 yards and 41 TDs. Physical back who cuts well. 89 TDs in three seasons. Has a 5-year-old son; worked at a shoe store before walking on at Towson.

9. Devonta Freeman

Florida State, 5-8, 206

Leading rusher (1,016 yards) for national champions. First Seminoles 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn (1996). Averaged 5.9 yards last two seasons. Questions about workload since he had only two 20-plus carries games in college.

10. James White

Wisconsin, 5-9, 204

Underrated back who finished fourth in school history with 4,015 yards and third with 45 TDs. Averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Strong north-south runner. Big-play producer who ran for 1,052 yards as a freshman despite getting no starts. Best fit for Steelers

RB is one of their deepest positions, so it's hard to imagine them drafting a back any time before a late round. But they've already hosted Jerick McKinnon on the South Side — they bring players in for a reason — and they have six picks in rounds 4-7.

One to watch

Tyler Gaffney, Stanford, 5-11 1 2 , 220

Former Pirates draft pick (24th round), he hit .297 for State College in ‘12. Returned last season to rush for 1,790 yards (eighth-most in country) and 21 TDs. Durable athlete and could find a job on an NFL roster.


Charles Sims, West Virginia, 6-0, 214

Played three seasons at Houston before gaining 1,095 yards in only Mountaineers season. Projects as third-day pick. But West Virginia never has had a non-fullback RB drafted above the third round.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:48 p.m.

Carlos Hyde can't figure out why one of the most important positions on a football team is one of the least appreciated on the first day of the NFL Draft.

The former Ohio State star projects to be the only running back taken in the first round, and there's no guarantee he'll go there.

No running back was chosen in the first round last year, and only one was taken in 2011. And only 10 have gone in the last five years.

“Yeah, it does kind of bother me. I feel like they are down on us,” Hyde said. “They don't think we are capable of doing what we know we can do. They are kind of just downplaying us, ‘We can wait to get ya'll.' ”

NFL teams figure they can draft a productive running back in the later rounds or, as the Steelers did with Willie Parker, sign him as a free agent. But Hyde points out both Super Bowl running backs, Marshawn Lynch of Seattle and Knowshon Moreno of Denver, were first-round picks.

“It's just changing the GMs' minds,” Hyde said — even if that doesn't happen by May 8.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.




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