In today‚Äôs NFL, some say that the idea of a featured running back is being phased out by way of expanded passing games and running back by committees. Even so, some of the best teams in the NFL over the past few years such as the 49ers, the Seahawks, the Ravens and the Patriots have had great success on offense by having a threatening running back that keeps defenses honest. This class has a lot of talent all over the place and different players may look better than others for teams dependant on scheme. Here are the top 5 backs in this class who each have the ability to be very successful in today‚Äôs NFL.
1.¬†Melvin Gordon*¬†(Wisconsin): Melvin Gordon is all about speed. He will outrun most defenders and has the lateral agility and smooth running style to go anywhere on the field in an instant. Not only is he fast, he possesses the frame (6’1″, 208) to work between the tackles if he adds a bit more weight. Gordon is unproven as a receiver but his natural ability could lend itself to him being an effective pass catcher.
*Zack Miller, a reporter at University of Wisconsin has information that points to Gordon wanting to return to school, but nothing is official yet.
2. Bishop Sankey (Washington): Sankey is a do it all back. He has the speed to run outside, the aggressiveness to take it in-between the tackles and is a dangerous player as a receiver. His biggest questions come with the workload he is getting at Washington right now, but that issue could prove a non-factor considering how he has performed most of the year.
3. Lache Seastrunk (Baylor): Seastrunk is another speed demon who is a game breaker when he is in the open field. He has the straight line speed and incredible wiggle that make him such a slippery runner. He has his issues in terms of being physical. It is just not his game. Also there are a few durability concerns, but in an NFL where finesse is more an more relevant, Seastrunk could be big-time.
4. Carlos Hyde (Ohio State): Hyde has exploded this year and is, phyiscally, one of the best backs in this class. He has the size, speed and moves to be a monstrous NFL back. His biggest issue is that he becomes indecisive at times and dances a bit behind the line. Other than his vision issue, he would be great in a power running scheme and his physical gifts will wow teams big time. He will need to answer some big questions about his character, as he has had run ins with the law before, but the talent is there.
5.¬†Andre Williams (Boston College): The country’s leading rusher is a lot more of an old school style back that will laugh at the idea of running off tackle and much prefer to run through a defense. He is a big, powerful, back with an underrated second gear and never seems to wear as a game goes on. Some will worry about the heavy workload he got this year, but the big back has a lot less tread than it seems. He is not going to be the game breaker in the NFL that these other backs could be, but he has the tools to be a very solid, consistent running back and sometimes that is the best thing for a team.
Ben Natan is a Staff Writer for Pro Sports Extra.