This year’s running back class is pretty weak, especially in terms of high-end talent. On the other hand, there is plenty of depth. Teams, Las Vegas Raiders included, will have a plethora of options on day three to bolster their running back rooms.
1. Najee Harris, SR, Alabama
Harris is the most complete back in this class. He has great patience and vision, which, combined with his size and athletic ability make him a dynamic runner. Also, he can stay out on the field on third down too. He has great hands and route running, plus, he’s reliable in pass protection. He looks a lot like Le’Veon Bell. The thing that separates Harris from the rest of the pack is his ability to create positive yardage on plays where the opposing defense gets good penetration.
Grade: Late first round
2. Travis Etienne, SR, Clemson
The first thing you notice with Etienne is his burst. He hits the hole really hard. Etienne’s at his best running to the edge. On inside runs, he has a habit of being impatient and just running straight into bodies, but this is a minor issue. This year, Etienne has blossomed into a great receiver.
Unfortunately, he needs to improve on his pass protection so that he can be out there more on third downs at the next level. This is something that many young backs have to learn when they reach the NFL. Etienne’s running style and pass-catching ability bring back memories of David Johnson in his prime. The Clemson product has a high floor, but his ceiling will be determined by the situation he is drafted into.
Grade: Early second round
3. Javonte Williams, JR, North Carolina
Williams is a bruising rusher that is built to pound on defenses for 20-25 carries a game. There is nothing super flashy about his game, but he consistently gets good yardage and has a nose for the end zone. He is not a big-time playmaker in the passing game, but he is reliable leaking out of the backfield into the flat or on hooks/curls. His excellent pass protection will allow him to be a three-down back at the next level. We will probably never see monster numbers from Williams, but he should have a long career as a reliable back, similar to Mark Ingram.
Grade: Second round