Could the 2017 Running Back Class be the Best of All Time?

The Running Back group this year is loaded with stars. It is also deep. This 2017 class is the deepest we have seen since the 2008 draft. That draft saw five RBs go in the first round, including Darren Mcfadden, Jonathan Stewart, and Chris Johnson. Matt Forte and Ray Rice were second round selections and Jamaal Charles went in the third. The 2008 group has produced more than 50,000 career rushing yards, seven backs with 5,000 yards each, and 323 touchdowns scored.

BOLD PREDICTION- I predict this running back class will produce three Hall of Fame players. That would be the first time that a draft produces 3 Hall of Fame running backs since 1952!

There’s no way to know what will happen in their careers but there’s a good chance that the 2017 RB class can produce six or seven stars. Let’s take a look at the Running Back crop for this year’s draft.

TIER 1

Leonard Fournette (LSU), Dalvin Cook (FSU), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford), and Joe Mixon (OU) are the top guys in this draft.

Leonard Fournette is a power back who also possesses break away speed. When experts draw comparisons to Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson, there’s a pretty good chance that he will succeed in the NFL.

Dalvin Cook is one of the best all around prospects. He can hit the hole, has top end speed, and can catch passes out of the backfield.

Christian McCaffrey is a “Swiss army knife” type of RB. He can line up anywhere on the field and is the best pass catching RB in the class.

Joe Mixon will be a steal for whatever team drafts him. He should be a first rounder but teams will pass on him to avoid the PR nightmare with his domestic violence video.

TIER 2-

D’Onta Foreman (Texas), Samaje Perine (OU), Alvin Kamara (TEN), Brian Hill (Wyoming). These guys would have first round pick potential most years. Unfortunately, there are four elite guys ahead of them.

D’Onta Foreman averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 2,028 yards with 15 touchdowns in 2016. He was one of the best runners in college.

Samaje Perine is a physical runner who is built for the NFL. He is one of Oklahoma’s most accomplished running backs and should get plenty of goal line touches on Sundays.

Alvin Kamara is being compared to Jamaal Charles. He is a quick twitch runner who can catch.  He’s also great at pass blocking.

Brian Hill is one of the best runners you never hear about. Sure he played at Wyoming but his numbers were off the charts. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,860 yards with 22 touchdowns.

TIER 3-

Wayne Gallman (Clemson), Marlon Mack (USF), Jamaal Williams (BYU), De’Veon Smith (Michigan). These guys need to end up in the right situations but they certainly have the talent to be NFL backs.

Wayne Gallman was an after thought in a loaded Clemson offense in ’15 and ’16 but this guy can run. He missed time in 2016 with a concussion but he is a one cut runner who has a nose for the end zone.

Marlon Mack averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 1,187 yards with 15 touchdowns, plus snatched 28 receptions for 227 yards. He had at least 1,000 yards in three straight seasons for the Bulls.

Jamaal Williams is a punishing runner and does his best work after contact. He can be a solid two down back in the right system.

De’Veon Smith was in a committee at Michigan but he averaged 4.7 ypc. He is a down hill runner but has good vision.

Best of the rest-

Corey Clement (Wisconsin), James Connor (PIT), Elijah McGuire (UL-Lafayette), Elijah Hood (UNC). These are the sleepers. They aren’t flashy but these guys have the ability to surprise you.

Corey Clement had a disappointing year in 2016 but we are banking on a bounce back. He has talent but can he translate that to the next level?

James Connor is a high character guy and has a chip on his shoulder. This power back was an effective runner at Pitt, averaging 5.1 yards per carry carries with 16 touchdowns last season.

Elijah McGuire had a nice career at a small school. He has shown he can be a three down back.

Elijah Hood is a North-South runner but needs to work on his footwork and quickness.

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