The 2014 rookie running back class is a bit lacking this year. There are no Adrian Peterson talents, heck there aren’t even any Eddie Lacy type backs. That is not to say that there isn’t a few talented ball carriers, but I have my doubts that any of these runners will get 230+ touches in the foreseeable future. Does that make them less important, perhaps as the draft is rich with receiver talent, a few good tight ends, some outstanding defenders, and some encouraging quarterback prospects? Let’s take a look at my top seven 2014 rookie running backs, but keep in mind I will evaluate their talents more completely in individual player reports.
1. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
This senior runner is the most physical, big back in his class. Not only does he have the size and power to run over and through opposing defenses, but Hyde catches the ball well. This back can play in a west coast type offense, or a power running scheme. He has a good nose for the end zone too. It was discouraging to see him come up lame at the Combine running his 40 yard dash, but I believe he is the only back in his class that could become a workhorse back. Reports have come out stating that he ran 4.5s in private NFL team workouts.
2. Bishop Sankey, Washington
Sankey is not the biggest, strongest, or fastest back in his class. No, this back is not spectacular in any way, but he can do everything. If a team needs a goal line back, he is your man. If you need a solid pass blocker, count on him. Heck if you need, three yards for the first down, give the ball to Sankey.
3. Jeremy Hill, LSU
The big back runs with a lot of power and explosion while moving well between the tackles. He has some off-field issues and doesn’t have great vision down the field. Hill has the athletic ability to become a major dynasty asset (hurdles, jump cuts, or spins out of danger at 6’ 0” 233 lbs.) but could flame out just as easy. The runner also has a bit of an Earl Campbell sort of swagger to his game.
4. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
He might be the most explosive, exciting back coming out this year. This back is downright scary in open space as he can out juke, out spin, or out run almost anyone on the field. That’s the trick, if the defense makes sure the runner never finds open space, he can be contained. Baylor did not feature him in the passing game, so his pass blocking and receiving skills are not battle tested. He could be a home-run threat or a change of pace back, that all depends on where he lands.
5. Charles Sims, West Virginia
This back has the best hands in his class and is also the best blocker of his class in both the passing and running games. His skill set does not make him the best inside runner, but he can usually make the first man miss. He can line up as an outside or slot receiver in a pinch. I like to think of Sims as a poor man’s Matt Forte aka more of a slasher than an inside runner.
6. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
The versatile back is a smaller version of Sims, but may have a little more wiggle. He wasn’t used much in college (never saw more than 200 touches), but he runs with enough power and leverage to be a good west coast running back. Freeman runs like a much bigger back and does not shy away from contact. I think he will get drafted as an afterthought by an NFL team and become the starter by the year’s end.
7. Terence West, Towson
This runner saw a lot of carries playing for a small college. He runs with a lot of power and uses his pad level to inflict pain on the defense. West has good patience and vision that he uses with his quick feet to get to the hole quickly. He won’t create much himself, but he will take what the defense creates for him. Dependable as the day is long, but is not very flashy. He hasn’t played against great competition and has a lot of carries, so much of his fate will rest on with which team drafts him.
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