The 2017 NFL Draft begins April 27, and there’s a load of dynamic running backs available for teams.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette is atop the list for a variety of draft gurus, indicating he should expect to hear his name called early in the first round. However, it’s more than just Fournette that makes this a strong draft for running backs. Top prospects include Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon and Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara.
If a team had its hopes up for Fournette, there are intriguing options if the former Tigers star is gone. Mixon has his share of off-field baggage but there’s no denying his talent. McCaffrey, Cook and Kamara have unique abilities that can make them productive NFL players.
Fournette is the undisputed No. 1 prospect, but this promises to be a draft with quality depth at running back.
Here’s an assortment of predraft rankings that gives insight into which running backs are deemed the best available.
To little surprise, each analyst listed above has Fournette as the top running back available. Aside from NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, who includes Samuel and Perine among his top-5 running backs, the draft observers have some combination of McCaffrey, Cook, Kamara and Mixon after Fournette.
Mixon is an interesting prospect. This former Oklahoma running back produced negative headlines after video surfaced that showed him hitting a woman. Mixon’s on-field talent is clear after he ran for 2,027 yards with 17 touchdowns during the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Sooners. But character concerns might make teams hesitate to draft him.
Cook, meanwhile, likely will be intriguing for many teams. He ran for 4,464 yards with 46 touchdowns from 2014-16 with Florida State. At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, he has a small, powerful build that could make him a dynamic backfield talent. McCaffrey also is an intriguing prospect after producing 3,922 yards with Stanford from 2014-16.
Fournette figures to go off the board early. But it will be interesting to see how teams approach Mixon and judge the other possibilities at running back. There figures to be intrigue at this position when the 2017 NFL Draft begins on April 27.
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