Yes, I know, the 2017 NFL Draft is over. For Draft junkies like myself, the college scouting days never end. We are long ways away from 2018 NFL Draft but it’s never too early to get an idea of who to watch heading into the college football season. I want to start this segment off by saying the homework on these prospects is far from over. After going over the list of quarterbacks, we continue to the running backs. This upcoming running back class looks very bright again heading into this year. Which running backs will steal the show in the 2018 NFL Draft?
- Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
In terms of short area quickness, Barkley’s your man. In today’s NFL, Barkley is a complete back who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. After a 194 yard performance in the Rose Bowl against USC, the Penn State product leads the way to start the season. If Barkley continues to improve, a good comp for him would be Ezekiel Elliot at the best case scenario. Barkley just has that knack of getting to the second level of the defense and creating more yards than he should.
2. Derrius Guice (LSU)
Hot Take; Derrius Guice is better than Leonard Fournette. Yes, I said it. Guice comes into the season as a first-round prospect after a season where he averaged 7.6 yards a carry. That number was even down from his freshman campaign of 8.2 yards per touch. Guice is just all around explosive and is eerily similar to Saquon Barkley from a height, weight, speed perspective. At this point, I need to see more touches to give an accurate comp as Fournette was the lead guy a year ago. In terms of potential, Guice may have the highest ceiling of any back in the entire class.
3. Ronald Jones (USC)
The fastest running back in the class? Well, that might just be Ronald Jones. We haven’t seen the best of Jones yet with limited carries thus far in his career but was a big time high school recruit. Jones is a long strider than can really hit the home run ball when given the proper blocking. Jones hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves because of the limited touches but 2017 people will soon learn this guy’s the real deal. Melvin Gordon appears to be a nice comp for him.
4. Bo Scarbrough (Alabama)
Look out big Bo is trucking through. This one was a tough one to grade here. Scarbrough might not even be the best running back on his own team. For a time Damien Harris was the lead guy. Now they have an incoming freshman who’s an absolute beast in Najee Harris who will likely steal some of the spotlight. Scarbrough is similar to Derrick Henry and Eddie Lacy as those big-bodied backs from Bama. There’s a lot of questions to be answered this year as Alabama has been a bit of a false hype prophecy translating into the NFL.
5. Royce Freeman (Oregon)
Freeman is another big back who’s going to be a goal-line vulture. Freeman already has a ton of carries in his college career and is a bit injury prone. Those same injury concerns also worry me about Nick Chubb from Georgia who would have been next on the list. Oregon’s got a bit of a track record for this style of runner with LeGarrette Blount and Jonathan Stewart. Freeman is probably a safe bet to land in the 3rd round of Draft similar to Kareem Hunt from this year.