Draft Preview: Running backs

Top 15

There have been three running backs or fewer selected in the first round of seven of the last 10 drafts, and 2010 should continue that trend. Of the three top backs, two of them fall below the NFL's size standard (under 200 pounds).

Player School Ht. Wt. Noteworthy

1. Ryan MathewsFresno5-11 1/2218 NCAA rushing leader

2. C.J. SpillerClemson5-10 1/21964.27 speed in the 40

3. Jahvid BestCal5-10199 6.1 yards per carry in 2009

4. Ben TateAuburn5-11220 12 career 100-yard games

5. Montario HardestyTenn5-11 1/2225Knees are a concern

6. Toby GerhartStanford6-0231 Walker Award winner

7. Jonathan DwyerGa Tech5-11229 35 career rushing TDs

8. Joe McKnightSo Cal5-11198 6.5 yards per career carry

9. Anthony DixonMiss St6-0 1/2233 910 career carries

10. Charles ScottLSU5-11238 32 TDs in 434 career carries

11. LaGarrette BlountOregon6-0 1/2 241Junior-college transfer

12. Lonyae MillerFresno5-11 1/2221Backup to Ryan Mathews

13. James StarksBuffalo6-2218 Missed 2009 with injury

14. Deji KarimSo Ill5-8 1/2209 4.38 speed in the 40

15. Brandon MinorMich6-0214 Only started 6 career games

The best

Ryan Mathews completed a rare double in 2009 when he led the NCAA in rushing with 1,808 yards. Mathews also led the nation in rushing as a high school-senior with 3,396 yards. He led all NCAA freshmen with 14 touchdowns in 2007 but missed five games with a knee injury in 2008. Then he set school records in 2009 for rushing yards in a season and consecutive 100-yard games (nine). Mathews has the size (218 pounds) and speed (4.41 in the 40) the NFL covets.


Joique Bell, Wayne State. When the NFL scouts prospects at small colleges, it seeks players who dominate that level. Bell was a four-year starter, a four-time all-conference selection, a two-time captain and won the Harlon Hill Award in 2009 as the best player in NCAA Division II. He's only the fourth player in Division II history to post two 2,000-yard seasons. That's dominance.

—Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News