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From the Hart: Breaking down the RBs

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And the PFW boys have concluded breaking down the video tape on hundreds of prospects at the various positions.

Before the teams actually begin making their selections on April 26, I get the chance to voice my views on the players at the various positions. Today that means a look at the running backs.

This year's calls of runners is interesting. Trent Richardson is the clear blue-chipper in the group. There is a pretty significant drop off after the Alabama star, but that doesn't mean there aren't a number of productive athletes who could be had in the middle or later rounds of the draft.

Our friends at NFLDraftScout.com think as many as 25 backs could be drafted this year. Here's one man's opinion of the running back prospects in this year's draft with 11 guys that I like:

1 – Trent Richardson, Alabama: Richardson is the best running back prospect to come out since Adrian Peterson. If he lives up to his physical potential he could easily be one of the top running backs in the NFL. He's a workout warrior and a productive force. I'll be stunned if he's not an star from day one. Strong. Fast. Physical. Athletic. You name it, Richardson has that positive trait. When Patriots fans were calling to draft Mark Ingram last year, I said he wasn't even the best on his college team. Too bad New England won't get a chance at Richardson.

2 – Robert Turbin, Utah State: I have Turbin rated much higher than most. I love everything about him in terms of power and speed. He runs a little upright for my liking, but beyond that I think he can be the total package at the next level. He has a chance to be star.

3 – David Wilson, Virginia Tech: Wilson had one big year as a starter. He has great burst and can get the corner. He's not huge, but has the speed to make it work.

4 – Lamar Miller, Miami: Miller is kind of a one-year wonder and there are concerns about his football IQ. But he has good size and 4.4 speed. That's hard to ignore.

5 – Doug Martin, Boise State: I'm not as high on Martin as most others seem to be. He's a short, bowling bowl inside-out runner. His power is OK, but he seems to labor to get to full football speed. But he does show some burst.

6 – LaMichael James, Oregon: Is James too small (5-8, 194) to make it in the NFL or is he too electric not to? I'm leaning toward the latter. James is simply a playmaker who can take it to the house on any snap. You can't teach that. And it's hard to stop that, regardless of size. If Danny Woodhead can make plays in the NFL, then so can James.

7 – Isiah Pead, Cincinnati: Another speed-based runner with good production, Pead is also an option as a returner and to catch the ball. He reminds me a little of my boy Jordan Todman. Pead won't be a primary runner, but he has the speed and athleticism to make NFL plays.

8 – Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State: Another in a run of speedy, smaller backs, Hillman has a slippery, shifty running style that is intriguing.

9 – Chris Rainey, Florida: Rainey is an undersized athlete who can do it all. He's a playmaker that could see action all over an offense and special teams units. He has a little power for his size and is downright elusive with elite speed.

10 – Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M: Gray is a tweener-sized back with good production who was loved by his teammates and coaches. He has some burst, good speed, can catch the ball and decent power. As a mid-round pick you could do much worse.

11 – Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: One of the rare bigger backs in the class, Ballard is tough and likes to finish his runs. At 5-10 and 220 pounds he's not fast, but does have pretty good feet.

What do you think of my list and breakdowns? Who do you think I left off that deserved a spot? Let us know with a comment below!

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