RB Prospects 2012 EOL Rankings

(Let me apologize for not getting my second EOL Chart out earlier. My computer crashed and I was unable to continue my scouting for the NFL Draft.)

If you would like to see my previous QB EOL Rankings click here.

With the end of the NFL season now put behind us, and the college football season officially over, it would appear that the time is right for the NFL Mock Draft season. It is a magical time where we all begin to ponder the great questions; "what if?", "should they?", "could they?" A time where we all attempt to play the role of 32 different GM's to get the perfect new addition to better each team around the league (with the least amount of bias as possible).

And with "Mock" season in full swing, I felt it would be a nice to start by ranking the incoming running back class of 2012.

Trent Richardson, Alabama, is considered the lock for the top RB in this year's NFL Draft (similar to Luck at the QB spot). However, the rest of the RB Draft Board is mostly up in the air with no real clear cut number two or three back. In order to fully dive in and discover how these backs should be ranked I have recreated my QB "EOL" (Expected Outcome List) for the 2012 RB prospects.

For this assessment of the future players of the NFL, I have created a system to attempt to find the best player around for each position. The system uses a combination of two professional mock’s, my own mock, a production ranking, and a weighted production ranking. The two professional mock’s come from and, two sites that I have found to be thorough and accurate in their scouting abilities (check the sites out yourself to judge). My own mock is created through my own "scouting" which includes game tape, live action, and my gut’s "intuition."

The first production list is solely based on each players statistics through the years, specifically focusing on five key stats (which will be identified at the production chart), that are averaged to a typical 13 game season to eliminate the rankings being dominated by statistical anomalies or "one-hit wonders." And weighted production is simply just the first production scores altered and re-aligned based on the specific conference the player was a part of (this will also be further explained when this chart is presented).

Whew. That was a mouthful, but onto the several charts I use to find the top player’s in their positions.

First up is and its list of the top ten RB’s in the nation as of February 28th, 2012, please make a note of the numbers located directly after each player’s school as this is the numerical value I have attached to that player’s spot on the ranking list;

1. Trent Richardson, Alabama (20)

2. David Wilson, Virginia Tech (19)

3. Lamar Miller, Miami (18)

4. Doug Martin, Boise State (17)

5. Chris Polk, Washington (12)

6. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati (11)

7. Bernard Pierce, Temple (10)

8. LaMichael James, Oregon (9)

9. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M (4)

10. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State (3)

Again, let me explain that the number after the player’s school is used for the final computation I use to find the best position player’s. Please also note that because the two different mocks have differences in their top ten’s that the current numerical value does not reach 1 until the My Rankings and the Production charts. P.P.S. the numbers are grouped as 20, 19, 18, 17, 12, 11, 10, 9, 4, 3, 2, and 1 because I wanted there to be a bigger reward for being on top of each category and vice versa.

Second up is, and the list used here was last updated on January 16th, 2012, the same rules for the list still apply to this list;

1. Trent Richardson, Alabama (20)

2. Lamar Miller, Miami (19)

3. Chris Polk, Washington (18)

4. David Wilson, Virginia Tech (17)

5. LaMichael James, Oregon (12)

6. Doug Martin, Boise State (11)

7. Bernard Pierce, Temple (10)

8. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati (9)

9. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State (4)

10. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M (3)

Next is My Rankings of each of the top RB’s from both lists above, so this would make a top 11 for my list. My Rankings are based on game tape and gut instincts, which is why I have two professional mock’s, keeping the overall rankings balanced. I also want to make it abundantly clear that I believe production is a huge part of potential for a RB (look at Warrick Dunn when he was drafted).

My Rankings

1. Trent Richardson, Alabama (20)

2. Chris Polk, Washington (19)

3. David Wilson, Virginia Tech (18)

4. Lamar Miller, Miami (17)

5. Doug Martin, Boise State (12)

6. Bernard Pierce, Temple (11)

7. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati (10)

8. LaMichael James, Oregon (9)

9. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State (4)

10. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M (3)

11. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State (2)

Now here come the interesting parts, the Production chart. For RB’s, the five stats I use consists of; rushing yards per season, total offensive TD’s per season, rushing yards per attempt, receptions per season, and reception yards per season. For each stat line each player is ranked just like the numbers used in the previous lists and then those numbers are added together, except for average yards per rush and touchdowns which are multiplied by two (because I deemed them the most important measures of production in a RB) and receptions which are multiplied by ½. So the formula would look like this;

18+12+ (17 x 2) + (9 x 2) + (4 x ½) = 84 points.

Production Rankings

1. LaMichael James, Oregon 123.5 points (20)

2. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State 101 points (19)

3. Trent Richardson, Alabama 94.5points (18)

4. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State 83.5 points (17)

5. Doug Martin, Boise State 77 points (12)

5. Bernard Pierce, Temple 77 points (11)

7. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati 73.5 points (10)

8. David Wilson, Virginia Tech 54.5 points (9)

9. Chris Polk, Washington 47 points (4)

10. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M 41 points (3)

11. Lamar Miller, Miami 40 points (2)

*Only the numbers in parenthesis are attributed to the overall chart*

And now the final chart before the overall rankings of the RB position is the Weighted Production Rankings (WPR). The WPR is the same list used as the Production chart except each players points, such as Ronnie Hillman’s 101 points in the above list, are multiplied by a fraction representing how good each player’s conference is, for example an SEC RB faces good defenses on a weekly basis so his multiplier would be a 10/12 but C-USA is multiplied by a mere 5/8 drastically reducing his points.

Weighted Production Rankings

1. LaMichael James, Oregon 81.4 points (20)

2. Trent Richardson, Alabama 78.8 points (19)

3. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State 69.6 points (18)

4. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State 63.1 points (17)

5. Doug Martin, Boise State 48.2 points (12)

6. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati 45.9 points (11)

7. Chris Polk, Washington 40 points (10)

8. Bernard Pierce, Temple 38.5 points (9)

9. David Wilson, Virginia Tech 34.1 points (4)

10. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M 30.8 points (3)

11. Lamar Miller, Miami 25 points (2)

Now that all of the lists that factor into the final overall rankings are posted above, it is time to unveil the Expected Outcome List (EOL). The EOL is what I created to show my confidence in the top position players, meaning that the percentage points gained (similar to a batting average in baseball) is how successful I believe the player can be at the next level (*disclaimer* some players on the list, I believe, should be higher than others, but numbers don’t lie…often). The formula used for the final list is as follows; assigned number, assigned number, My Rankings assigned number, Production Rankings assigned number multiplied by 1.5, and the WPR’s assigned number multiplied by 2:

12+11+12+ (17 x 1.5) + (12 x 2) = 84.5

Upon finding the total combined value (such as 84.5 above), the value is then dived by the total amount of points available (in this case a player can achieve a total value of 130):

84.5/130 = 0.650

Expected Outcome List

1. Trent Richardson, Alabama 0.962

2. LaMichael James, Oregon 0.769

3. Doug Martin, Boise State 0.631

4. David Wilson, Virginia Tech 0.581

5. Chris Polk, Washington 0.577

6. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State 0.535

7. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State 0.520

8. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati 0.515

8. Bernard Pierce, Temple 0.515

10. Lamar Miller, Miami 0.469

11. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M 0.158

As stated before, I personally believe that some of these players should be higher up on the list but this is what the formula gave me. For one example, I really, really, REALLY like this kid out of Washington (a.k.a. Chris Polk). He is big, strong, and extremely elusive in a pinch, if you don’t believe me; check out his tape against Nebraska where he appeared to escape a gang-tackle of about 5 or 6 Cornhuskers. Polk reminds of a better Marshawn Lynch for the NFL; he had a below-average offensive line at Washington and still produced on a nightly basis. I would expect Polk to be the most efficient in an offense with a savvy QB who understands the necessity of the run game. Now on the other side of the fence we have LaMichael James, Oregon, who is primarily a speed back. James has the potential to be a Darren Sproles type player not a Maurice Jones-Drew type. James is really small and fast which means he is built to come out of the backfield on screens and swing passes or even a few tosses but he won’t be pounding the rock anytime soon.

Just like how an offensive system affects a QB’s success in the league, that same system affects the RB’s taking in the draft. Trent Richardson would seem that he could thrive in almost any system handed to him but I would still prefer him to be used in a run-heavy style game because then you could get the most bang for your buck, these teams include; San Francisco, Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants and Jets, Jacksonville, Oakland, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh (possibly Tennessee).

So with the Draft coming up, it is fair to say that the teams at least interested in gaining a RB in one of the many rounds are; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Indianapolis, New York (G), New England, Oakland, and St. Louis (a total of nine teams, not a very large pool in all honesty).

Judging a best fit for the RB position is a little easier than trying to find a fit for a QB because most backs can produce with some decent blocking barring any kind of leg injury (mostly knee). However I would say that Richardson would be most suited for Tampa Bay because he could step in and immediately take the starting role from Blount and even the 3rd down back spot from whomever they decide to play there.

LaMichael James, Oregon, may be able to get the most use in St. Louis because they need a playmaker to come out of the backfield, Jackson is a beast but he is getting older and being able to keep him on the field for a longer time could be done with taking James later in the draft. James would be a great passing game compliment to Jackson’s running ability.

Doug Martin, Boise State, is the most interesting RB available I believe, he isn’t big, he isn’t lightning fast, and he isn’t all that powerful, but, Martin does show some potential as a good #2 back in a hybrid backfield like Oakland if McFadden can remain healthy. Obviously McFadden would be the primary back getting around 20 carries or so but Martin could step in and get maybe 8-10 carries and really alter how the opposing defenses have to prepare.

David Wilson is an impressive back. Just like Martin, he isn’t all that big but he definitely makes up for it in his running ability. Wilson can’t fly down the field but he is very quick and explodes through holes that his offensive line creates, and if a defensive player does get to touch Wilson in his first two to four yards, Wilson is able to not only elude that defender but can also completely destroy him before he knows what just happened. With Wilson’s physical style of run I would see him producing the most in Denver. Denver ran that college style option-run playbook last year, and it was successful despite having no real back outside of McGhee, and it continued to work after he was injured. If Denver is able to snag Wilson I would expect a huge running year from the Mile High City, even more so than last year.

Lastly we have my man; Chris Polk, Washington. I would have to assume the theme of this year’s draft is non-blazing RB’s as Polk is definitely not a speed back but he is an incredibly sneaky guy. Polk is an every down power back who is deceptively quick with a few good jukes up his sleeve. No a great place for Polk to land would be with a savvy QB who understands the need for the run game as I said before, and that place may just very well with a second round pick for Indianapolis. The Colts need a new revitalized run game, Joseph Addai is getting old (for a RB), and with Andrew Luck more than likely coming in the Colts need to create a more respective ground-n-pound. Bringing in Polk to play with Addai for one or two years will allow Polk to grow into a premier back which will then lead to a great offensive tandem between Luck and Polk.

So there is my Mock Draft tool, feel free to leave comments about how the formula can be altered to show a better caliber level for each player. And please don’t be too mean about it (I worked really hard on this for several weeks to get it right).

And make sure to look out for my Wide Receiver EOL in the following days. And possibly leave a comment for which Defensive group I should begin for the EOL.

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