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2010 NFL Scouting Combine: Running Back

A summary of this year's RB Prospects and their NFL Scouting Combine Performance

With more and more teams going with a committee backfield, fantasy production from the running back position has become very inconsistent. Sure, you still have a handful of bell cow backs that get 25+ touches a game, but they are few and far between. Nowadays a RB has to be able to produce with a limited workload and the ones that are able to become even more valuable in fantasy leagues. The 2010 RB Draft Class is very much a question mark, but has the potential to be above average in both talent and depth. While it will not come close to producing the talent level that the 2008 Class did, it certainly has the potential to be better than last year’s. Everyone knows the top names that could rack up fantasy points in the right situation – CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews, Jonathan Dwyer, Toby Gerhart, etc. – but there are also some late round players that could turn into steals both in the NFL Draft and your Dynasty Draft. Let’s take a look at some prospect performances from the Combine this past week.

According to the NFL Network, 82% of the players at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine were selected in last years NFL Draft.  Below we have provided some of this years most intruiging Fantasy Football Prospects.

Important notes about Combine workouts:
Watch out for the  "workout wonders" of the Combine.  Workout wonders are top performers of nearly every exercise who will get drafted and never do anything in their career.

The 40 yard dash is awesome and the truest measure of a players straight line speed.  You can lose sight of a players explosiveness or change of direction speed (See 20 and 60 yard shuttle).

Vertical Jump and Broad Jump are good measures of a players explosiveness.  A good indication of how fast an RB can hit a hole at the line of scrimmage or how agressively a WR can make an attempt at a jump ball.

20 and 60 yard shuttle is a good indication of a players quickness compared to straight line speed.  Top performers have amazing change of direction and utilize various speeds in traffic.

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CJ Spiller (Clemson):
5'11" 196 lbs
Spiller's versatility is going to keep him atop the RB prospect lists for the entire Draft season.  He is an explosive player with a proven ability to make plays once he reaches open space.  He is going to be compared to Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles because of his size and big play potential.  Nearly half of his collegiate big plays went for over 50 yards - this has Dynasty stud written all over it.  Above average receiveing ability and kick return skills will land him on the field immediately, no matter the NFL system he gets drafted to.  15-20 touches total per game, with approximately 10 in space,  and he has major big play potential and will make an immediate impact on your Dynasty team as a weekly flex starter. Long term upside is high RB2, low RB1.  He will not be a feature back, but his presence on the field will give you the fantasy points needed to feel comfortable starting him every week.  While his 40 time (4.37) was below what many thought he would post, don't be fooled here, Spiller is fast and extremely elusive.  If you want him you are going to have to have one of the top 3 picks in your upcoming Rookie Draft.. 

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Jahvid Best (Cal.):
5'10" - 195 lbs
Best is a track Star, with Chris Johnson type ability - game is built on speed and elusiveness.  He probably raised his stock more than any RB at the combine with a 4.35-40 time.  The only knock against  Missed the final 4 games of his Senior year due to a concussion, and durability concerns will be highly scurtanized as he has missed intermittent time as he tends to get nicked.  Skill set to be an immediate change of pace back, especially in a zone blocking scheme.  His 50 plays of 20+ yards give him big play upside.  His build is not ideal, but his playmaking ability is top notch and makes him an elite Dynasty prospect.

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Ryan Matthews (Fresno State):

6'0" - 218 lbs
Mathews is quickly gaining draft stock. His durability will be questioned with 7 missed games in his career, however that may be overshadowed by his 3,280 rushing yards and 39 TD's - the NCAA's leading rusher.  He is a big-body RB that needs work in the passing game.  Coming from a pro-style offense and blocking ability are big pluses. He has a chance to go as high as the end of the first round, and in the right situation he could step in and immediately provide 15 carries per game for a team like the San Diego Chargers.  His 4.41-40 at the combine was impressive especially for a back of his size.

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Ben Tate (Auburn):
5'11' - 220 lbs
Tate is one of our favorite sleepers in this years draft.  He was a top performer in nearly every combine workout, however his dedication has been questioned at the collegiate level.  Tate however, has never missed a collegiate start or a workout session while at Auburn, which makes us wonder where this label came from.  He has been an 20-25 carry per game player and has never has a season yard per carry average below 4.2.  He blossomed in his Senior year rushing for over 1,300 yards at 5.2 a pop.  He is not the most established receiver, although his downhill-straight forward power rushing style will not require him to be on the field in 3rd down situations.  Pay attention to Tate this draft season as he will likely fly under the radar.

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Dexter Mcluster (Ole Miss):
5'9" - 172 lbs
Don't dare call Mcluster small. He will immediately tell you he was big enough to rush for 5 straight 100 yard games in his senior year.  That's 5 straigtht in the SEC folks - impressive.  McCluster is a tailback, that has the versatility to line up all over the field and be utilized "in-space."  He is an excellent pass catcher and has return ability.  His only known knock is an old shoulder injury, not known to be a current issue.  For teams looking for the next DeSean Jackson or Percy Harvin, McCluster could be their guy.  McCluster did not light up the stopwatch as many expected, but McCluster has been impressive enough this offseason to maintain his draft stock.  Many scouts knock his size, but there will be enough teams looking for a playmaking weapon with his skill set.  His 20 reps on the bench were among the best at the RB position and for someone his size, proves he is built very strong.  Most noteably, he was the top perfomer (by a mile) in the 20-yard shuttle, the best workout for measuring speed based on change of direction quickness rather than straight line speed.  McCluster could prove to be a solid long term Dynasty prospect.

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Johnathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech):
5'11" - 229 lbs
We were looking for a little more from Dwyer at the Combine.  He is a big and powerful back likely to fill the role of a bell cow.  Despite the fact he dropped approximately 17 lbs in prep for the draft, which may have been an attempt to downplay his reputation as a player with weight management issues.  Dwyer is not a pass catcher, but he has a nice blend of speed and power.  Dwyer will fit nicely in a zone blocking scheme (Texans).  We are somewhat intruiged by Dwyer but we want to know a little more before we can start hyping him as a solid RB Dynasty candidate.

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Joique Bell (Wayne State):
5'11" - 220 lbs
Bell is a small school prospect that is climbing our Dynasty Board as a top sleeper prospect.  He managed to top 1,000 yards for three straight seasons and topped 2,000 yards in his Senior year. Bell was a top performer in nearly every Combine workout category focused on explosiveness (not the 40 however), and should a team make a move on him earlier than his pedigree suggests, he may be a reach pick for you in your Dynasty Draft.  He clearly faced lesser competition in college and will require an improvement in overall skill set, but the talent is clearly there for him to make an impact at the next level.  

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Toby Gerhart (Stanford):
6'0" - 231 lbs
Headed to the combine with serious attitude.  As a 2009 Heisman finalist, questions about his speed and skill sets are curious considering his superior collegiate productivity. Gerhart also played two seasons on the Stanford baseball team as an outfielder, so his athletic ability is more than adequate. Gerhart ran a 4.53 40 yard dash, which should erase any doubt that he should be drafted as a tailback. He runs with a punishing style that could shorten his NFL career, but also make him a very effective short yardage RB. 

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LaGarrette Blount (Oregon):
6'0" - 241 lbs
Blount gained National headlines for knocking out a Boise State player on the field after the first game of the 2009 season. Character issues are a huge question mark obviously. His ultimate NFL position is also a quesiton, as many see him as a powerful FB rather than a full time RB. Blount needed a solid 40 time, and 4.62 will do. He has the size to be a pile pushing RB in the NFL, even if he lacks long speed and elusiveness in open space.  He is not a great Dynasty prospect if he falls into the big-body FB type roll, however his collegiate production makes him worth monitoring further through NFL draft season.

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Andre Dixon (UCONN):
6'1" - 205 lbs
Dixon was a two starter at UCONN.  Serious character concerns including a DUI and other various issues were overcome in his Senior year where he carved himself a legitimate role in the Huskies offensive ground attack.  Surpassing the 1,000 yard mark and adding another 14 TD's to his stat line will at least put him into the mix as a potential NFL sleeper down the road.  He was a top performer in the explosive drills (vertical, 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles) which will surely get the attention of teams looking to add RB depth to their rosters.  Look for "the predator" to make a push to get drafted in the mid to late rounds of this years draft.

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Upcoming BeastOrBust.com NFL Draft Content:

Over the next couple months, we will be bringing you important NFL Draft Content.  Check back as we will unveil our Top Dynasty Prospects at each skill position.  In our yearly Needs not Wants Draft Column, we will take an in-depth look at each NFL teams needs to highlight suitable landing spots for these future Beasts of the NFL.  Draft Previews and Draft Instant Reaction Articles will wrap up this years coverage.  Be sure not to miss our upcoming Dynasty Digging - Who Wants to Gamble feature, highlighting some players to roll the dice on in your upcoming Rookie Drafts.