For the second straight year, the NFL Draft will produce an average crop of running backs. The 2014 NFL Draft will more than likely be the second straight draft where a running back does not get drafted in the first round.
This class has some potential in the middle and later rounds, though. While no one running back has everything an NFL team looks for in a featured back, there are running backs with skills that should help them contribute early on. Even if it's in a part-time role, backs like Bishop Sankey and Ka'Deem Carey should get on the field early and impact the game.
Here are the top 34 running backs eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft with quick scouting reports on 12 of them.
1. Bishop Sankey | 5'9 1/2, 209 pounds | Running back | Washington *
It's been said that Bishop Sankey doesn't have any special traits. While that may be true, Sankey is the most well-rounded running back in this class and has plenty of physical tools to be productive in the NFL. The biggest knock on Sankey is probably his slight frame and perceived lack of strength. But he makes up for any size issues with his vision and balance as a runner. Sankey is a threat out of the backfield and is effective at making tacklers miss in space. There's not much Sankey can't do as a running back, so even if he's not first off the board, he could be the most effective early on.
2. Ka'Deem Carey | 5'9 3/8, 207 pounds | Running back | Arizona *
Some view Ka'Deem Carey as a system back, which is fair in part due to some of the big holes Carey was able to run through during his insanely productive career at Arizona. He also has some skill to work with, though. Carey's vision was exceptional during his final year with the Wildcats, and he has an aggressive running style that makes him tough to bring down on first contact. While he disappointed with his 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, Carey showed off some speed on tape. He's also a threat out of the backfield.
3. Carlos Hyde | 5'11 7/8, 230 pounds | Running back | Ohio State
Hyde is poised to be the first running back taken in the draft. If there is a classic bell-cow running back in the draft this year, it's Hyde. He can carry a big load of carries because he has the type of size that can not only handle the punishment but dish it out. Hyde has nimble feet through the hole and enough burst to get to it before it closes. What Hyde doesn't have is deep speed. While he'll get caught from behind, he's too good in the first 10 yards to ignore.
4. Lache Seastrunk | 5'9 1/2, 201 pounds | Running back | Baylor *
The biggest question surrounding Lache Seastrunk is whether or not he is capable of holding up the beating as an NFL running back. He's a bit undersized and has had some durability issues during his career. With that said, Seastrunk is a big-play threat due to his quick cuts and acceleration. Seastrunk still needs to improve his vision. He always seems to be going for the homerun instead of taking what's in front of him and picking up the quick yardage.
5. Charles Sims | 5'11 1/8, 214 pounds | Running back | West Virginia
There is not a better receiving running back in the draft than Sims. He has a background as a high school wide receiver and it shows. He can be lined up in the slot and be an asset. Purely as a runner, Sims has a nice combination of size and speed. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and has enough speed to break some longer runs. Is very much an upright runner and won’t overpower a lot of front seven defenders. Could be more patient as a runner. Doesn’t always let blocks develop in front of him and will try and cut to a hole too soon.
6. Tre Mason | 5'8 1/2, 207 pounds | Running back | Auburn *
Tre Mason is a running back with a compact body type who runs with a low center of gravity. He's tough to wrap up because of his ability to change direction quickly and keep his feet moving through contact. Mason isn't a complete burner, but he has enough speed to do damage in the open field. He definitely has the workhorse mentality as he made perfectly clear in the SEC Championship Game. The biggest question is how high is his ceiling?
7. Devonta Freeman | 5'8 1/4, 206 pounds | Running back | Florida State *
There may not be a single area of Freeman's game where you're blown away. He's not a big-time speed player, nor is he a powerhouse. But his combination of acceleration, competitiveness, vision and elusiveness make him a very good player. Because of that, don't be surprised if Freeman becomes one of the running backs in the draft to produce early as a rookie, if he's drafted into the right situation.
8. Isaiah Crowell | 5'11, 224 pounds | Running back | Alabama State *
Character questions are the only thing keeping Isaiah Crowell from being one of the top running backs on this list. He dominated early in his career at Georgia before getting caught with guns on campus and being dismissed from the team. Since playing for Alabama State, Crowell has shown the same tenacity and power in his running style that he had at Georgia. He doesn't hesitate when running the ball and is skilled at making people miss in space. Durability is the only other big question mark surrounding Crowell.
9. Terrance West | 5'9 1/4, 225 pounds | Running back | Towson *
West almost single handedly carried his Towson team deep into the FCS playoffs. He's a strong runner with good vision and patience. Truly a workhorse runner at Towson. For a bigger back, he can cut in a hurry and not lose any speed. Doesn't avoid contact. While that was fine at a lower level, it won't work as well in the NFL. West also tends to run high instead of lowering his shoulder using his power.
10. Jeremy Hill | 6'0 5/8, 233 pounds | Running back | LSU *
Jeremy Hill has spent the better part of his college career trying to get out from under the shadow of some off-the-field mistakes. On the field, Hill is a capable running back who relies on his power to pick up yardage. Hill doesn't have a ton of speed or lateral quickness, but he's tough to bring down in the open field because he always runs with proper pad level and squares his shoulders on contact. He's built to carry the load in the NFL, too.
11. Storm Johnson | 6'0, 209 pounds | Running back | Central Florida *
Ball security issues limited Storm Johnson's playing time down the stretch in 2013 and will do the same if he doesn't get them corrected early in his NFL career. Johnson is a balanced running back capable of making plays in the running game and passing game. He's a natural hands catcher and gets upfield in a hurry. He's a big running back with a ton of initial burst and straight line speed. Johnson has a bit of an upright running style, however, and that hurts him at times.
12. Andre Williams | 5'11 3/8, 230 pounds | Running back | Boston College
Another workhorse type of running back, Williams can carry the ball and not do much else. He's unproven as a receiver and his pass blocking is inconsistent. But running the ball he showed he can handle a lot of carries and not slow down. He runs with good balance and pad level and has the type of power to shake off lower body tackles. In the open field, Williams can build up to top speed and is deceptively fast. Should be an asset on short yardage plays.
13. Antonio Andrews | 5'10 1/8, 225 pounds | Running back | Western Kentucky
14. De'Anthony Thomas | 5'8 5/8, 174 pounds | Running back / Wide receiver | Oregon *
15. Dri Archer | 5'7 3/8, 173 pounds | Running back | Kent State
16. Marion Grice | 6'0, 208 pounds | Running back | Arizona State
17. Rajion Neal | 5'11, 212 pounds | Running back | Tennessee
18. LaDarius Perkins | 5'7 3/8, 195 pounds | Running back | Mississippi State
19. Kapri Bibbs | 5'9 3/8, 212 pounds | Running back | Colorado State *
20. Jerick McKinnon | 5'8 7/8, 209 pounds | Running back | Georgia Southern
21. James White | 5'9 1/8, 204 pounds | Running back | Wisconsin
22. Henry Josey | 5'8 1/8, 194 pounds | Running back | Missouri *
23. David Fluellen | 5'11 1/8, 224 pounds | Running back | Toledo
24. Darrin Reaves | 5'10, 201 pounds | Running back | UAB
25. James Wilder Jr. | 6'2 5/8, 232 pounds | Running back | Florida State *
26. Silas Redd | 5'9 3/4, 212 pounds | Running back | Southern California
27. James Sims | 6'0, 200 pounds | Running back | Kansas
28. Timothy Flanders | 5'8 5/8, 207 pounds | Running back | Sam Houston State
29. Lorenzo Taliaferro | 6'0 1/4, 229 pounds | Running back | Coastal Carolina
30. George Atkinson | 6'1 3/8, 218 pounds | Running back | Notre Dame *
31. Alfred Blue | 6'2, 222 pounds | Running back | LSU
32. Damien Williams | 5'11 1/4, 222 pounds | Running back | Oklahoma
33. Roy Finch | 5'7, 167 pounds | Running back | Oklahoma
34. Ben Malena | 5'9, 195 pounds | Running back | Texas A&M