By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.com

 

Below is a look at each of the projected top five running backs and  a look at the top 45 small school rushers while the top five fullbacks with a look at the top rated fullback for the 2014 NFL Draft.

 

1.      Terrance West, Towson

If you are looking for a big back who can run, catch, and be a workhouse every down type back then West is your man.  At 5’9 ¼. 225 pounds with 4.5 speed.  His production has been off the charts rushing for almost 1,300 yards as a freshman and having his best season with 2,500 plus yards as a junior.  When the Towson product entered the draft early it was no surprise and probably the right move.  He can run over defenders, has a good burst, shows the ability to cutback and change direction as well as the durability needed to succeed in the NFL.  West is no doubt a second round talent but due to the depth at the position and some off field concerns he will likely slide into the 3rd round.

 

2.      Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern

At 5’9, 207 pounds, McKinnon is a great athlete who runs in the 4.3s, shows great explosion and strength, and has the build on his frame to be a good back.  McKinnon is a rare athlete who could not only be an option or wildcat quarterback in the NFL he can play the slot, running back, and cornerback.  Don’t be surprised if he goes a little higher than expected such as the top of the fourth or end of the third round.

 

3.      Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State

Crowell is a talented player who started his career at Georgia but ever since earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 2011 he has seen his stock plummet.  He showed up to Alabama State after dismissal due to two weapons charges and two felonies and was out of shape early on.  He finished strong in 2012 and then had a good season in 2013 but still wasn’t as consistent as he should have been.  He is a bigger back (5’11, 224) who runs well, has good vision, and is a good athlete but his off the field concerns put his stock in limbo.  If he were to go based on talent along he would be a third or fourth round pick but the off the field concerns are what makes him a late round or priority free agent projection.

 

4.      Tim Flanders, Sam Houston State

Flanders played in a running back friendly option system at Sam Houston putting up big numbers.  Some people believe have him as a 5th-6th round talent while others have him as a priority free agent.  His vision, cutback ability, and durability are what scouts love most.  He’s just 5’8 5/8, 207 pounds with 4.6 speed so that’s why I project priority free agent but his production and consistency are why it would be no surprise if he got drafted.

 

5.      John Spooney, Brown

Spooney is a big time diamond in the rough who was bypassed by every all-star game, the combine, and hasn’t been given much media attention.  Media attention doesn’t really matter to draft stock, in terms of hype, but you would think with his talent he would get more of it.  He was a first-team All-Ivy League selection who showed a good burst, good vision, and very good athleticism on tape.  The former track standout has some concerns that will probably keep him from getting drafted but you can expect that he will be signed quickly after the draft and should make a practice squad.

 

OVERRATED: Dillon Baxter, Baker (KS)

At 5’10, 198 pounds he is a bit thin for someone who was once considered among the best backs in the nation.  He started out at USC but off field issues have caused him to transfer twice where he ended up at Baker.  His lack of dominance combined with his past mean he won’t get drafted.  When watching Baker he looked solid but did not do nearly what the hype he had around him would suggest.

 

UNDERRATED: Dominick Pierre, Dartmouth

Pierre isn’t given much hype but he is an ideal size with good vision and the ability to be a workhorse.  He ran for 800 plus yards in 2012 and surpassed 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013.  While he won’t get drafted you can expect him to sign a contract quickly after the draft.

 

SLEEPER: John Spooney, Brown

He has just one year of major production in college and comes over from track but is a player that could have a much better career than many players rated ahead of him.

 

RISER: Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern

McKinnon started his career at quarterback but moved to running back full time during the 2013 season.  His performance late in the year, specifically against Florida and his combine workout have opened eyes moving him from a likely 6th round pick to a probably 4th round selection.

 

FALLER: Terrance Cobb, University of Cumberlands (KY)

Cobb was once in the top five on this list heading into the season but an injury-plagued year and not rebounding in the postseason has caused him to continue to slide.  He has recently been passed by two more players in the last month alone.

 

INTRIGUING: Kyle Harbridge, Saint Francis (PA)

Harbridge (5’9 3/8, 204) fell under the radar of even NFL teams a little bit when he was hurt in 2012 and not on any preseason watch lists for 2013 but quickly began to receive notice as he ran for 1,619 yards and 16 touchdowns.  His ability as a return man, hands, and production make him someone who should quickly sign after the draft.  His 4.5 speed could make him an interesting candidate for a practice squad.

 

 

SMALL SCHOOL RB RANKINGS

Pos Rank

First Name

Last Name

School

Rd. Proj.

1

Terrance

West

Towson

2nd-3rd

2

Jerick

McKinnon

Georgia Southern

4th-5th

3

Isaiah

Crowell

Alabama State

7th-PFA

4

Tim

Flanders

Sam Houston State

PFA

5

John

Spooney

Brown

PFA

6

DeNarius

McGhee

Montana State

PFA

7

Zachary “Zach”

Bauman

Northern Arizona

PFA

8

Dominique

Williams

Wagner

PFA

9

Franklyn

Quiteh

Bloomsburg

PFA

10

Dominick

Pierre

Dartmouth

PFA/FA

11

Kyle

Harbridge

Saint Francis (PA)

FA

12

Terrance

Cobb

University of Cumberlands (KY)

FA

13

Kedrick

Rhodes

West Alabama

FA

14

Isidore

Jackson

Bethune-Cookman

FA

15

Jaamal

Berry

Murray State

FA

16

Samuel “Sam”

Ojuri

North Dakota State

FA

17

D’wayne “D.J.”

Adams

Portland State

FA

18

Keidrick

Jackson

Midwestern State

FA

19

Jermie

Calhoun

Angelo State

FA

20

Dillon

Baxter

Baker (KS)

FA

21

Shakir

Bell

Indiana State

FA

22

Glen

Clinton

Chadron State

FA

23

Andrew

Pierce

Delaware

FA

24

Rondell

White

West Chester

FA

25

Charcandrick

West

Abilene Christian

Tryout

26

Darien

Robinson

The Citadel

Tryout

27

Torrance

Hunt

Georgia Southern

Tryout

28

Octavias

McKoy

Western Connecticut

Tryout

29

Arnold

Walker

Alcorn State

Tryout

30

Joshua

Birmingham

Central Oklahoma

Tryout

31

Demitrius

Bronson

Eastern Washington

Tryout

32

Aldreakis

Allen

Liberty

Tryout

33

Klay

Fiechter

Indianapolis

Tryout

34

Carlton

Koonce

Fordham

Tryout

35

Chris

Coffey

North Alabama

Tryout

36

De’Antwan

Williams

Indiana (PA)

Tryout

37

Brandon

Baker

Carson-Newman

Tryout

38

DJ

McNeil

Tennessee-Martin

Tryout

39

Keith

Sherman

Lehigh

Tryout

40

Avery

Walker

Bemidji State

Tryout

41

Derek

Elliott

Valley City State (ND)

Tryout

42

Jansen

Jones

Gannon

Tryout

43

Cameron

Fore

Benedictine (KS)

Tryout

44

Charlie

Davidson

Wayne State (NE)

Tryout

45

Nigel

Barksdale

Slippery Rock

Tryout

 

FULLBACKS

1.      Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina

He’s perhaps the biggest riser in the fullback class considering it’s a projection as he played tailback and he only has one year of major production as a starter.  At 6’0 ¼., 229 pounds he has the ideal tools to be fullback as he can block, catch, and a workhorse.  His lack of great burst and top end speed are why many scouts project him to change positions.  In most drafts he would be projected to go in the 5th or 6th round but is a borderline draft pick due to depth at the position this year.  If he goes undrafted, he will have several offers so he would be ideal to snag in the 7th round to prevent fighting for him at the conclusion of the draft.

 

SMALL SCHOOL FB RANKINGS

Pos

Pos Rank

First Name

Last Name

School

HT

WT

40 Time

Rd. Proj.

1

Lorenzo

Taliaferro

Coastal Carolina

6002

229

4.58/4.65

7th-PFA

2

Ray

Agnew

Southern Illinois

5094

247

4.75/4.84

PFA

3

Jaryd

Brown

Findlay (OH)

6015

230

Tryout

4

Travis

Friend

Bucknell

6014

242

Tryout

5

Austen

Wozniak

Indiana State

6010

240

4.75/4.80

Tryout