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2015 NFL Draft running back rankings: The 1st-round drought is over

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With Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, we could see at least two running backs taken in the first round of the draft. The quality at the position doesn't stop there either.

This could be the year we once again see a running back taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. That's right, good news for a position that gets pounded and devalued every single year. Even kickers and punters don't seem to get knocked around like running backs do. Don't draft them high. Don't give them money. They're done by the age of 30.

The 2015 NFL Draft is when running backs fight back, in a big, big way.

"It’s hard to say if we’re a devalued position. Teams are just going with the picks they actually need," Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon said at the NFL Scouting Combine this year. "I don’t know the thoughts that’s going through their head. Maybe they didn’t feel the running backs the last couple of years were first-round talent, I don’t know. We just have to change that this year and show people that we’re capable of going in the first round."

After a two-year drought of running backs getting taken in the first round, Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley could change the position's fortunes. Gurley is a powerful and athletic runner who can plow through defenders just as easily as he can run through them completely. If not for a torn ACL, we may be talking about Gurley as a top 10 pick.

Because of the injury issues, Gordon may get drafted over Gurley. He's a speed back with shiftiness. It's just an added bonus that he's 215 pounds and 6'1. Gordon is an expert outside runner and has that extra gear to run past defenders on a deep run. If Gordon can figure out how to run with a little more power between the tackles, he should quickly become one of the better running backs in the NFL.

Boise State's Jay Ajayi is arguably the most complete back in this year's draft. He's a do-everything player, who won't have to be taken off the field on third downs. Because of that, he should be a top 40 pick in the draft. Indiana's Tevin Coleman is right on the fringe of that range. Consider that Coleman ran for 2,036 yards last season, despite a suspect offensive line.

Those are the top four players, but this group is deep. Starting-caliber players could be found in the third round and later. Those types include players like Cameron Artis-Payne of Auburn and David Johnson of Northern Iowa.

Under the radar: Had he not battled several nagging injuries throughout the season, we may be speaking about South Carolina's Mike Davis in the same breath at the top four running backs this year. He's not the biggest or fastest, but he has elite vision and burst between the tackles.

Position grade: A-

1. Todd Gurley, 6’1, 226 pounds, RB, Georgia
2. Melvin Gordon, 6’1, 213 pounds, RB, Wisconsin
3. Jay Ajayi, 6’0, 216 pounds, RB, Boise State
4. Tevin Coleman, 6’1, 210 pounds, RB, Indiana
5. Ameer Abdullah, 5’8 1/4, 198 pounds, RB, Nebraska
6. Duke Johnson, 5’9, 206 pounds, RB, Miami
7. T.J. Yeldon, 6'2, 221 pounds, RB, Alabama
8. David Cobb, 5’10 3/4, 229 pounds, RB, Minnesota
9. Mike Davis, 5’9, 223 pounds, RB, South Carolina
10. David Johnson, 6’0 3/4, 224 pounds, RB, Northern Iowa
11. Jeremy Langford, 5'11 5/8, 208 pounds, RB, Michigan State
12. Javorious Allen, 6’0 1/2, 221 pounds, RB, Southern California
13. Cameron Artis-Payne, 5'9 5/8, 212 pounds, RB, Auburn
14. Matt Jones, 6’2 3/8, 231 pounds, RB, Florida
15. Josh Robinson, 5’7 7/8, 217 pounds, RB, Mississippi State
16. Malcolm Brown, 5’11 5/8, 223 pounds, RB, Texas
17. Dominique Brown, 6’2, 234 pounds, RB, Louisville
18. Thomas Rawls, 5’9, 215 pounds, RB, Central Michigan
19. Terrence Magee, 5’9, 220 pounds, RB, LSU
20. Karlos Williams, 6’0 3/4, 230 pounds, RB, Florida State
21. Kenny Hilliard, 5’11 5/8, 226 pounds, RB, LSU
22. Braylon Heard, 5’9 5/8, 198 pounds, RB, Kentucky
23. Trey Williams, 5’7 1/2, 195 pounds, RB, Texas A&M
24. John Crockett, 5'11 3/4, 217 pounds, RB, North Dakota State
25. Prince-Tyson Gulley, 5’8, 193 pounds, RB, Syracuse
26. Michael Dyer, 5’8, 218 pounds, RB, Louisville
27. Dee Hart, 5'7 1/2, 199 pounds, RB, Colorado State
28. B.J. Catalon, 5’7 3/8, 186 pounds, RB, TCU
29. Jahwan Edwards, 5’9 1/2, 220 pounds, RB, Ball State
30. Dreamius Smith, 6’1 1/2, 213 pounds, RB, West Virginia