Jackson highest ranked RB


Here is how ESPN.com rates the top 10 running back prospects in the draft:

  • Steven Jackson (Oregon State)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-1˝, 241 pounds, 4.55 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Rushed for 1,500 yards-plus in each of his two seasons as starter and carried 743 times for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns for his career. Despite bypassing senior year, still ranks 10th in rushing yards in Pac-10 history.
    Upside: Terrific body, very muscular, strong through the hips and legs. Despite size, can get through small creases, runs with power and balance and usually makes the first man miss. Squares up naturally, has deceptive quickness, will use stiff-arm to break tackles. Durable runner and likes to punish defenders.
    Downside: Only average burst and won't run past people, or elude tacklers, at the second level. Not as nifty in space as he is in the hole. Needs to get his pad level lower and really has to improve as a blocker.
    The dish: Certainly the top tailback prospect in the '04 class, a cinch top 10 pick, and could squeeze into the top five or six. Cocky and confident, a potential workhorse who should make an immediate impact.

  • Kevin Jones (Virginia Tech)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-0 1/8, 227 pounds, 4.57 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Played virtually every game over three years, bypassed senior season to enter draft. True "feature" back his final two seasons, finished career with 3,475 yards and 35 touchdowns on 616 attempts. Had eight 100-yard performances in 2003.
    Upside: Nice live body, very good all-around athlete, loves to compete. No one has to show him the way to the weight room. Gets to top speed quickly and has sudden cutback ability. Can explode through clear holes and, once he's in the secondary, doesn't get caught from behind. Good change of direction skills.
    Downside: Simply doesn't break many tackles or create his own hole very often. Lacks vision and, when the hole isn't well-defined, hesitates too much in the backfield. Runs upright and likes to bounce plays outside a little too much. Average receiver, not asked to block very often, had eight fumbles in 2002 and that's a problem.
    The dish: Likely first-rounder, probably from the middle of the stanza on down, but there are some skeptics. Hasn't run well in workouts and, while he makes lots of big plays, some scouts feel he doesn't make enough little ones.

  • Chris Perry (Michigan)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet, 224 pounds, 4.56 in the 40.
    Numbers game: With breakout season in 2003, finished career with 3,696 yards and 39 touchdowns on 811 carries. Broke school record for career rushing attempts. Posted 14 games of 100 yards and only second player in Wolverines history to register a pair of 200-yard games in the same season.
    Upside: Great character player and natural leader. Won't dazzle anyone, but a durable and workmanlike back who does a lot of the little things well. Has good leg drive, can pick his way through the trash in the hole, runs with balance. Squares up naturally. Very good receiver on the swing and flat routes and a willing blocker.
    Downside: Not very flashy or elusive, lacks some natural body lean, doesn't always finish off runs. Lacks long speed and elusiveness and, despite good size, not a consistent tackle-breaker. Too often goes down on first contact and, for an inside-type runner, too often tries to take plays to the edge.
    The dish: Depending on team needs, could sneak into first round, but looks more like a solid second-round choice. Durability and character will boost him a bit.

  • Greg Jones (Florida State)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-1 3/8, 249 pounds, 4.62 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Although he missed much of 2002 campaign with knee injury, still started 21 games for his career, finished with 480 carries for 2,535 yards and 23 scores. Had only 655 yards in 2003.
    Upside: Big body, really thick through the calves and thighs, has the potential to wear down defenses by simply beating on them. Excellent competitor and showed diligence in his rehabilitation from knee surgery. Has nice feel for where the rushing lanes are opening up and possesses surprisingly nifty feet. Good, natural lean, finishes off most of his runs and clearly relishes contact.
    Downside: Not nearly as explosive a runner in 2003 as he had been before knee injury. Doesn't cut as well now. Looked to pick his spots, rather than just burst to an opening, and took a lot of negative runs. Below average receiver.
    The dish: Now that he's two years removed from knee surgery, should be much better, but the hinge still needs to be monitored. Teams also need to keep an eye on his weight because he has a propensity to get too big at times.

  • Julius Jones (Notre Dame)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-9 3/4, 217 pounds, 4.50 in the 40.
    Numbers game: One of only four players in Irish history to gain 3,000 career rushing yards. Finished with 634 carries for 3,018 yards and 26 touchdowns. Broke school record for career all-purpose yards (5,372) and combine return yards (2,104).
    Upside: Good feet and natural running skills, very instinctive to the hole and can redirect in traffic. Picks his feet up to get through the trash and, once in space, accelerates quickly. Can get to full speed in a blink and has terrific hip swivel for getting upfield. Will break some tackles, but prefers getting to the corner, won't get caught in the secondary. Very viable as punt or kickoff returner.
    Downside: Shorter than most teams prefer and has always had a great work ethic. While he is sure-handed as a return man, isn't a particularly good receiver or route-runner. Had some fumble problems in the past. Elusive but not a tackle-breaker.
    The dish: Performance at the combine, both on- and off-field, catapulted him into a first-day choice. Seems stocky enough to overcome questions on height. Key to his success might be finding a way to keep him motivated.

  • Maurice Clarett (Ohio State)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-11 3/8, 230 pounds, 4.58 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Played just one season, in 2002, before being declared ineligible for NCAA violations, then challenged NFL draft rules. As true freshman in '02, gained 1,227 yards on 222 carries and scored 16 rushing touchdowns.
    Upside: Thick body, big through the chest and shoulders, solid in lower body as well. In 2002, demonstrated nice vision, burst, and ability to create his own openings. Can bounce in and out of hole, redirect himself, make natural cutbacks. Good hands. Not the best blocker but willing to sacrifice his body.
    Downside: Even with prototype size, body looks soft, and lack of conditioning and fact he hasn't taken a hit in so long will be concerns. Past injuries, particularly shoulder and ankle problems, could be a concern and durability is a question mark. Not very mature and will take bad advice at times. Also doesn't take directions very well.
    The dish: Demonstrated in his Monday workout that he has finally gotten serious about the game. Not a standout audition but probably good enough to get him chosen on the first day. One AFC team still, surprisingly, has him as a first-round possibility.

  • Mewelde Moore (Tulane)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-10 5/8, 208 pounds, 4.60 in the 40.
    Numbers game: One of most prolific all-around players in NCAA history, finished 11th in Division I annals with 6,505 all-purpose yards. One of only two players in history to rush for 4,000 yards and have 2,000 yards receiving. Only player ever to rush for at least 1,250 yards and catch 60 passes in same season.
    Upside: Short man, but not a small one, and his compact frame is very stout. Thicker than some people might think and, since he doesn't absorb many big hits, has been durable. An elusive player who definitely is more quick than fast, isn't reluctant to run inside, and will make defensive backs miss if he gets to the second level. Can give someone a lot of "touches," play a ton of roles, and is dangerous in space.
    Downside: Has run some really pedestrian times in the offseason and that's a concern. Has nice short-area burst and good vision but long speed is dubious. Can't block at all. Fact he played baseball last three offseasons might have hindered development a bit.
    The dish: One of those players whose overall productivity should supersede his ordinary 40-yard times. Probably a third-rounder.

  • Michael Turner (Northern Illinois)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-10˝, 237 pounds, 4.50 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Finished second last two years in NCAA all-division rushing, carried 940 times for 4,941 yards and 43 touchdowns in career. Can return punts and kickoffs, and that helped push his career all-purpose total to 6,038 yards.
    Upside: Prototype build for the position, squat and taut, has demonstrated he can take and also dish punishment. Excellent acceleration, a naturally square runner who will break some tackles, burst through holes and into the secondary. Always runs hard and knows how to finish off a carry. Can return kickoffs.
    Downside: There are always some scouts who will be dubious about the level at which he played and the competition he faced. Ran mostly out of an I-formation, with a lot of "toss" plays, so had plenty of time to find space. In standard formations, might need to be a bit more decisive about getting to the hole. Some concerns about receiving skills.
    The dish: Tough and productive runner and hard worker. Should be a first-day pick.

  • Tatum Bell (Oklahoma State)
    Vital statistics: 5-feet-11, 212 pounds, 4.41 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Played in 41 games, very durable, finished career with 634 rushes for 3,409 yards and 34 touchdowns. Ranks sixth in Big 12 history in rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns.
    Upside: Arguably the fastest of the top tailback prospects, really opened eyes at combine, scouts appreciated fact he even participated in 40-yard sprint. Nice body, strong all over, well-defined musculature. Can bounce out of traffic and find running room. Nice burst and gets up to maximum speed very quickly. A surprisingly good blocker and receiver.
    Downside: Needs to demonstrate more patience as a runner, too often fails to set up his blocks, and lacks some vision. For all his quickness, plays a little stiff at times, not as good in his change of direction as you would like. Some past problems with fumbles.
    The dish: Even with some inconsistencies, and doubts about his innate abilities, still an intriguing guy who figures to go in the third round.

  • Cedric Cobbs (Arkansas)
    Vital statistics: 6-feet-0 1/8, 223 pounds, 4.68 in the 40.
    Numbers game: Missed all of 2000 with shoulder injury but finished career with 2,426 yards and 22 touchdowns on 480 attempts. Added another 600-plus yards on kick returns.
    Upside: Naturally talented runner with good size and innate running skills. Decisive back who sees the hole, can plant and go, and has very nice short-area power. Will break some tackles at the line. Solid worker, wants to be good, likes to compete. Adequate blocker.
    Downside: Lack of speed, certainly the seeming absence of a second gear, are justifiable concerns. Not much niftiness at all. Isn't quite as strong as he initially appears and has some history with injuries.
    The dish: Could slide to the fourth round because of speed concerns. But has been a very productive player and teams need to evaluate him on track record.

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.