Nov 29, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson (8) carries the ball as Pittsburgh Panthers defensive back Avonte Maddox (14) defends during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Whether or not the Baltimore Ravens need a running back is up in the air at this point, so the Ravens will be paying close attention to the running backs at the 2015 NFL Combine. And how good is this draft class? A 1,200 yard rusher a ranked SEC program might go on the third day of the draft (that’s Josh Robinson from Mississippi State).
Narrowing down some guys to watch will be difficult. Here goes nothing.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
I am not advocating the Ravens picking Melvin Gordon in the first round, but darn it, I love this guy. No back in this draft has better vision than Gordon, so Gordon is the perfect fit for a zone blocking scheme. That he is next to impossible to bring down in the open field is icing on the cake for Gordon, one of the best running back prospects in years.
The real reason to watch Gordon is just because he could be a supreme talent at the NFL level. No matter where he goes, Gordon will be fun to watch.
Duke Johnson, Miami
Miami prospects always entrance Ravens’ fans, and for good reason. Duke Johnson is arguably the most explosive back in this class, capable of taking any carry the distance. His 40-yard dash could be awe-inspiring, and his quickness should translate well to the three-cone drill as well.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
With blistering acceleration and good strength, Tevin Coleman is another guy who could blow up the combine. Coleman has the power and speed teams look for in a back, so his results should help boost his stock.
Jay Ajayi, Boise State
A Matt Forte-type back who can do everything pretty well, Jay Ajayi is the kind of back who will look better in the position drills rather than the physical tests. He should, however, at least be solid in the 40 and other agility drills.
David Cobb, Minnesota
David Cobb would be a Day 2 pick any other year, but the glut of backs could push Cobb back to Day 3. Cobb has some natural vision for the zone blocking scheme, so if he has a nice 10-yard split in the 40, he could be a very nice value pick for the Ravens late in the draft.
Other names to watch: Jeremy Langford, David Johnson, John Crockett (he needs to be on the field at the same time as Crockett Gillmore), T.J. Yeldon, Ameer Abdullah