At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, 335 young men will hit the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium looking to make some progress in shooting up draft boards.
Of that player pool, 36 are running backs. The running backs will be put through a bunch of drills that every player will go through including 3-cone drill, 40-yard dash, shuttle run, bench press, vertical jump and broad jump. However, they will also see specialized tasks just for them.
The main one for running backs is called the off-tackle drill, which starts with a running back taking the hand-off from a coach. From there, the back moves quickly over a serious of bags on the ground, keeping his knees up and his eyes looking straight ahead. Once he gets to the end of the bags, a coach will be standing there holding another bag upright.
At this point, the coach will lean the bag either left or right. Whichever way the bag is turned, the back is supposed to plant his foot and cut the opposite direction before turning upfield to finish the drill. A very good demonstration of this can be seen over at NFL.com with Mike Mayock.
Players to Watch
Dri Archer: The undersized Kent State speedster who racked up 32 touchdowns in two seasons will draw plenty of attention as expectations will be high for his Combine showing. At only 5'8, 175 pounds, Archer will need to put up great numbers to show that he has the athleticism to make up for his lack of size.
Carlos Hyde: At 6'0, 235 pounds, Hyde is a bruiser that could go early, but if he can show elite speed to match, he would have an argument to be the first running back taken.
De'Anthony Thomas: Similar to Archer, Thomas is an intriguing prospect due to his fantastic athleticism which means the bar is set really high for his performance in the 40-yard dash and cone drills. At 5'9, 170 pounds, a disappointing showing would be devastating for his draft stock.
Marion Grice: The Arizona State running back led the nation in touchdowns for much of the season before a leg injury ended his season late in the year, keeping him from participating in the Holiday and Senior Bowls. He is expected to be healthy for the Combine, but there are questions about his athleticism and burst. He can answer questions about both his health and abilities with a strong showing.