2012 NFL Draft Sleepers: All Underrated Team - Running Backs

Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The value of running backs is on the decline. Drafting a running back early in the NFL Draft is tough to justify with the quality backfield options that can be had later in the draft.

Each of the top six rushers in the NFL last season was taken in the second round or later in his respective draft.

So, who will it be this year? Trent Richardson is the star of this running back class, but if history is any indication, he may have some competition as the best rusher in his class years down the road.

We continue the All Underrated team with a look at the running backs. Please chime in with your thoughts on the running back class and your favorite sleeper. Here are two of my favorite prospects.

Vick Ballard, Mississippi State

Vick Ballard is not going to blow anyone away with his wheels. But during his career at Mississippi State, Ballard proved to be a patient and powerful runner. He will earn playing time early in his career because of his reliability as a pass blocker. Ballard has deceptive quickness to go with his power and consistently displayed outstanding vision with impressive cutback runs. If given a chance to play early in his career, Ballard will surprise a lot of people.

Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M

Cyrus Gray is another running back that is not going to stand out in terms of pure athleticism. However, throughout his career, Gray was a consistent and reliable running back. He always seems to fall forward, and his vision allows him to be a quality option between the tackles. Again, any running back who is going to make a smooth transition to the NFL needs to be able to pass block, and Gray can. He also has solid hands out of the backfield, which could make him a third down back as a rookie.

Who else could emerge from this running back class? Let us know in the comments.

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