Deep is the best word to describe the 2013 NFL Draft's running back class. All the way through to the seventh round, teams will be able to find talented backs capable of making an impact in the right system. That depth at the position may be enough to keep a running back out of the first round for the first time in the history of the NFL Draft.
After Eddie Lacy's dominant 2012 season, he surged to the top of most running back rankings, but the gap between Lacy and the rest of the pack isn't as large as some may think.
We've already discussed some of the underrated running backs in this class, so let's take a look at the guys who are being overvalued in draft circles.
First team: Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Let me be clear, Lacy is a solid prospect. If he was sitting there in the middle of the second round, he would be a nice value. In fact, he has a case as the best running back in this class. But the idea that he deserves to be drafted in the first round is a bit off base. With the decreasing value of the running back position as a whole, a back needs to have some special traits to come off the board in the first round. Last year, Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson all fit the bill, due to the elements of explosiveness and versatility they brought to the table.
While Lacy is a powerful back with solid burst that should be able to churn out yards in the NFL, he doesn't have breakaway speed and isn't a huge threat to defenses in the passing game. He had a chance to run behind a dominant offensive line that didn't test his ability to find holes and make plays when things weren't set up perfectly. I'm not saying he won't be successful, I just don't think he will develop into a special enough back to warrant first round consideration.
Second team: Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State
Le'Veon Bell is one of a handful of running backs that could get some consideration on day two of the NFL Draft. But we don't have Bell among the top-12 running backs in this draft class in our final position rankings. He may have some value as a short yardage back, but he doesn't have the quickness or burst to be relied upon as an every down back. Plus, he's taken a hell of a beating at Michigan State, which may shorten his shelf life in the NFL.
Honorable mention: Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Kenjon Barner made plenty of big plays while at Oregon, leading some to believe that he is worth a mid-round pick at running back in this draft. Perhaps it speaks more to the depth of this class than to Barner as a prospect, but I think he's more of a late-round guy. For all of his speed and agility, Barner is undersized and yet he runs a bit upright and lacks balance. The most concerning aspect of his game, though, is his inability to be a tough inside running. he constantly bounces the ball outside and misses opportunities for big plays in the interior running game. Some skills are there, but he seems like more of a situational running back to me.