Juniors would give RB class a boost
Before suffering a season-ending broken leg in Louisville's season opener, Michael Bush was the cream of the 2007 senior running back crop thanks to his unusual combination of size, speed and versatility. Now it remains to be seen whether Bush will remain in the draft or elect to apply for a medical redshirt season and return to Louisville.
|INSIDE THE NFL DRAFT|
With the college football season under way, NFL scouts are hard at work evaluating prospects for the 2007 draft. Our Scouts Inc. draft specialists are no different. DraftTracker 2007 already is loaded up with in-depth scouting reports on nearly 250 college seniors who are on the NFL's radar, and our guys are filing updates each week as the prospects perform on the field.
• NFL DraftTracker 2007
Irons can help himself with a suitable encore to his breakout campaign in 2005, when he rushed for 1,293 yards and 13 touchdowns on 256 carries. Peterson needs to back from an injury-plagued 2005 season and recapture the freshman-year magic that saw him finish third nationally with 1,925 rushing yards. Also in the mix could be Marshawn Lynch (California), who rushed for 1,246 yards as a first-year starter last season despite missing two games due to injury.
As far as the rest of the seniors are concerned, Alabama's Kenneth Darby could be the next best option -- likely in the second round, though. What Darby lacks in size and top-end speed, he makes up for with excellent instincts, quickness and toughness.
Lorenzo Booker (Florida State) is primed for a breakout season in 2006 after sharing the spotlight his first few seasons. What Booker lacks in size he makes up for in speed, elusiveness and versatility. Big production as a senior could land Booker a spot in the second round.
Tyrone Moss (Miami-Fla.) was having a monster season in 2005 before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Virginia Tech. He will need to overcome character concerns brought about by his one-game suspension for the season opener for violating team academic policy. LSU's Alley Broussard is another premier talent attempting to return to form after a season-ending knee injury last year. Broussard actually has an extra year of eligibility should he elect to use it for the 2007 season.
Brian Leonard (Rutgers) will be the first fullback taken, thanks to his outstanding combination of size, power, athleticism and pass-catching skills. If taken on Day 1, Leonard will be the first fullback so chosen since 2003, when the Jets took Michigan's B.J. Askew in the third round.
Tony Hunt (Penn State) and Courtney Lewis (Texas A&M) are steady performers with the potential to hear their names called early on the second day of the draft. DeShawn Wynn (Florida) and Thomas Clayton (Kansas State) are more naturally gifted than Hunt and Lewis, but off-field issues could decrease their stock.
Finally, next year's running back class, more than any other position, should boast legitimate small-school talent. The top three draft sleepers hail from Division I-AA James Madison (Alvin Banks), D-IAA Harvard (Clifton Dawson) and D-II Pittsburg State (Germaine Race). Banks, who possesses a very good combination of size and speed, is the only legitimate first-day prospect of the three. Dawson is an undersized jitterbug with great versatility, while Race is a two-down power-back in the mold of former Panthers' standout Stephen Davis.
|Top 20 Senior RB Prospects|
|1.||Michael Bush, Louisville||6-1 3/4||251|
|2.||Kenny Irons, Auburn||5-10 3/4||195|
|3.||Kenneth Darby, Alabama||5-10 3/8||213|
|4.||Brian Leonard (FB), Rutgers||6-0 3/4||238|
|5.||Lorenzo Booker, Florida State||5-10 1/4||191|
|6.||Tyrone Moss, Miami-Fla.||5-9||241|
|7.||Tony Hunt, Penn State||6-0||225|
|8.||Courtney Lewis, Texas A&M||5-10 1/4||198|
|9.||Alley Broussard, LSU||6-0||231|
|10.||DeShawn Wynn, Florida||5-10 3/4||234|
|11.||Alvin Banks, James Madison||5-10 3/4||224|
|12.||Thomas Clayton, Kansas State||5-9 7/8||220|
|13.||Stevie Hicks, Iowa State||6-0 7/8||212|
|14.||Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois||5-7 1/4||170|
|15.||Germaine Race, Pittsburg State||5-9 5/8||227|
|16.||Justin Vincent, LSU||5-10 1/2||220|
|17.||Dwayne Wright, Fresno State||5-11 1/2||226|
|18.||Selvin Young, Texas||5-11||215|
|19.||Clifton Dawson, Harvard||5-9 1/2||203|
|20.||Pierre Thomas, Illinois||5-10||205|
|Top 5 Potential Early Entries|
|1.||Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma||6-1||215|
|2.||Marshawn Lynch, California||5-10 7/8||206|
|3.||Albert Young, Iowa||5-10||209|
|4.||Mike Hart, Michigan||5-9||197|
|5.||Lynell Hamilton, San Diego State||5-11 3/4||217|
|Day 1 Running Backs in 2006 NFL Draft|
|Rnk||Prospect, School||Team||Round (Overall)|
|1.||Reggie Bush, USC||Saints||First (2)|
|2.||Laurence Maroney, Minnesota||Patriots||First (21)|
|3.||DeAngelo Williams, Memphis||Panthers||First (27)|
|4.||Joseph Addai, LSU||Colts||First (30)|
|5.||LenDale White, USC||Titans||Second (45)|
|6.||Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA||Jaguars||Second (60)|
|7.||Brian Calhoun, Wisconsin||Lions||Third (74)|
|7.||Jerious Norwood, Mississippi State||Falcons||Third (79)|
The following graphic shows the number of running backs and fullbacks selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most NFL teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their respective draft boards each year.
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