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2011 NFL Scouting Combine: Running Backs

A summary of the 2011 NFL Combine's Top Running Back performers

The 2011 Draft Class may be lacking in truly elite Running Back prospects, but it is certainily deep and that means more players to keep an eye on. With NFL teams stockpiling at least 3 and sometimes 4 talented backs, there is always potential to shine. Elite bellcow backs still go at the beginning of Dynasty drafts, but Day 3 and even undrafted free agents are worth monitoring because of injuries and opportunity within a committee. Read on to take a look at a few of the early Draft prospects we have a close eye on this Draft season. 

The most important drills for RB's are the 40 yard dash, 3 cone drill and shuttle runs. 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  with the 40, so be sure to pay attention to their 20 and 60 yard shuttle times which are a great measure of agility and start-stop speeds (acceleration).  Similar for all players, the Broad Jump and Vertical Jumps are a good indicator of explosiveness, obviously an important skill set for RB's.  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. 

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Mark Ingram

5'9" - 215 lbs
Alabama (SEC)
The consensus top back in the draft, Ingram does a lot of things well. He's a tough inside runner and a very good receiver out of the backfield. He's also well versed in blitz pick-up and should be an instant fantasy contributor. He has the upside of a bellcow type of player, but may top out as a solid starter. He did not blow anyone away at the Combine, but has done enough to maintain his position at the top of the draft class.  Don't be too concerned with his lack of workout wonder as he is considered one of the few offensive players that runs better in pads.

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Mikel LeShoure
5'11" - 227 lbs
Illinois (Big 10)
Athletic for a bruising back. LeShoure could be a potential steal for an NFL team if he falls out of the first round. He has drawn comparisons to LeGarrette Blount, but he may be more versatile and not quite as punishing. One of our favorites to possibly be a Beast at the position, LeShoure had a solid, if unspectacular performance at the Combine. Expect his stock to continue to rise as we approach the Draft. He could be pigeon-holed as goal line type, but if he goes to the right team that will utilize him to his potential, fantasy owners are going to reap the benefits.
Top Performer: Vertical Jump
Top Performer: 3 Cone Drill
Top Performer: Broad Jump

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DeMarco Murray
6'0" - 213 lbs
Oklahoma (Big 12)
Murray is one of the few backs of this class that has the upside to develop into an everydown back at the next level.  His Senior Season's, 1,200 rushing yards and 71 receptions are a nice indication of his versatility and ability to remain on the field as a 3 down back at the next level.  A is a powerful rusher that needs some refinement, but could prove to be a nice value for a team looking to land him in the mid rounds.  Murray will battle concerns of injury and toughness through Draft Season.
Top Performer: 40 Yard Dash
Top Performer: Broad Jump

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Noel Devine
5'8" - 179 lbs.
West Virginia (Big East)
Not quite as miniature as Quizz Rodgers, Devine is still big on NFL upside. No, he is never going to carry a full load, but as a change of pace type, he could make some noise. He was super productive at West Virginia with over 19 - 100 all purpose yard games, and as a Day 2 or more likely Day 3 prospect, he can certainly have value. Devine only participated in the bench press, so scouts will have to wait for his pro day for everything else. Keep an eye on his stock as the Draft nears. 

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Jacquizz Rodgers 
5'6" - 196 lbs
Oregon (Pac 10)
Super small RB that will have trouble convincing teams that he should touch the ball more than 5-10 times a game. He was billed as a Darren Sproles type, which is a common comparison for backs under 5'8". Still, could have value because of his playmaking ability. Quizz did not help his cause at the Combine, running a 4.64 40 and underwhelming or not performing in all other drills. He will max out as a FLEX type and will really need the right situation to reach his ceiling, but his compact, strong build could hold up more than some give him credit for. Worthy of a late flier in Dynasty drafts, especially if he goes to a team with a creative playcaller. 

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Roy Helu Jr. 
5'11" - 219 lbs
Nebraska (Big 12)
Made noise at the Combine by showing off solid speed for his ideal size and weight. He needs to run with more power, but he shows good burst and solid pass catching ability. Helu's stock is on the move and could be a solid Day 2 prospect. He does not profile as an elite player, but with some refinement, he could have every down potential. HIs ability to block and catch out of the backfield could make him an instant contributor on Sundays. 
Top Performer: 40 Yard Dash
Top Performer: Short Shuttle
Top Performer: 60 yard Shuttle
Top Performer: 3 Cone Drill 

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Da'Rel Scott

5'11" - 211 lbs
Maryland (ACC)
Scott flashed an impressive 4.34 forty time and his ability to be a change of pace back makes him an intriguing talent. His biggest weakness is his lack of inside running, but has a slightly above average size and strength to be adequate, similar to Joe McKnight. His athletic ability and versatility will have many NFL teams interested late in Day 2 or early in Day 3. Has had injury concerns in college and when you couple that with his flaws, Scott becomes a risky prospect, but one with developmental upside as well. 
Top Performer: 40 yard dash

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Daniel Thomas
6' - 230 lbs
Kansas State (Big 12)
Every down back potential in the mold of a Larry Johnson, he could be a Day two deal. Thomas runs with force and can instantly become a solid goal line, short yardage type, but his potential is beyond that. He has soft hands, but he does lack the elusiveness and speed of a true playmaker. That could limit his carries at first, but he could very likely carry an offense on Sundays. He was only at the Combine for measurements and interviews, so his pro day will be telling. Definitely watch him closely.

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Ryan Williams
5'9" - 212 lbs
Virginia Tech
Williams is a sculped Beast with big time potential. He exploded onto the map as a freshman, but his sophomore year was full of injuries and mediocre performance. He is leaving that in his rearview mirror and there are going to be many teams that will be enamored by his physical upside. He runs inside with power and could easily push LeShoure as the 2nd best RB in the class. He can catch the ball out of the backfield adequately and has the athletic ability to be an exciting talent at the next level. He is not without risks, but Williams is an instant impact type.   Health concerns will surround Williams through Draft Season.
Top Performer: Vertical Jump
Top Performer: 60 Yard Shuttle
Top Performer: Broad Jump

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Jordan Todman
5'9' - 203 lbs
UConn (Big East)
Todman may have made himself some money at the Scouting Combine.  While he was extremely productive player in college, Todman may fall into the Jerome Harrison trap at the next level where teams never become convinced the player can hold up to an NFL beating.  Todman has a decent skill set and initiates contact on every play, which also could cause him to become an injury liability.  While we expect him to be a workout warrior at this point, should Todman get draft to the right place he may be worth a late round flier in Dynasty Drafts.  
Top Performer: 40 Yard Dash
Top Performer: Vertical Jump
Top Performer: Broad Jump
Top Performer: 60 Yard Shuttle

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A few other RB prospects to watch in this deep class: Allen Bradford, Mario Fannin, Alex Green, Kendall Hunter, Derrick Locke, Bilal Powell, Vai Taua, Shane Vereen

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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 WantsDraft 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.