Skip to main content

Official website of the New England Patriots

Eagles Green runs to head of class


Running Backs


Boston College (6-1, 215; 4.46)

Strengths: Prototype size and speed, possessing a great frame and a ripped, muscle-bound physique. Tremendous first-step, acceleration and hits the hole with authority. Great cuts and gets in and out of them quickly. Can be used effectively in the short passing game, averaging 12 yards per catch as a senior

Weaknesses: Runs a bit too straight up and will take too many hard hits. Tends to take too many plays for losses, which puts his offense in bad spots. Must improve his pass-protection. Questionable decision-making and has been called immature by some close to the program.

Bottom Line: Franchise-type pure runner who reminds us a bit of NFL Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson in his running style. If his head is screwed on properly and he refines a few parts of his game, he should be a Pro Bowl-type performer.


Michigan St. (6-2, 255; 4.49)

Strengths: Absolute brute with the football and is as strong a downhill runner as you'll see. Not only can this guy run through arm tackles, he's always falling forward. Unreal size-speed-strength ratio, able to run under a 4.50 at 250 pounds and possesses a 505-pound bench press — one of the reasons he can drag defenders for extra yardage. Tough and will play — and perform well — while injured. Has the look of a workhorse who could carry the ball 25 times a game.

Weaknesses: Does not possess quick feet and does not always hit the hole with authority. Still has a lot to learn about the intricacies of the position and was often taken out in third-down situations — still needing quite a bit of work in route-running, receiving and blocking. Too often tried to be a bulldozer instead of using his awesome athleticism to run around defenders.

Bottom Line: Phenomenal athlete who has special skills and the potential to be one of the best "move-the-chains"-type RBs in the league.


UCLA (6-0, 215; 4.52)

Strengths: Incredibly smooth runner — a real glider. Super cut-backs and loves to finish off his runs with stiff-arms. Very strong and is an excellent tackle-breaker — maybe the best in this draft. Good forward body lean and has a fine downhill running style. Possesses that vision and running back sense only the great ones have. Patient runner who scored 43 times during his collegiate career.

Weaknesses: Durability is clearly the biggest concern and he doesn't seem to relish contact and has been known to run out of bounds instead of putting his head down. Poor hands and dropped too many swing passes. Questionable decision-maker and was suspended on Nov. 7 for the rest of his senior season for an NCAA rules violation for receiving extra benefits (driving a new sport-utility vehicle being leased by a Hollywood-type). Has had some fumbling problems.

Bottom Line: Absolute thoroughbred who, barring injuries, will be a big-time player early in his career. Reminds us quite a bit of the Bengals' Corey Dillon in his running style.


Ohio State (6-0, 232; 4.56)

Strengths: Excellent size-speed-strength ratio. Powerful runner who breaks a lot of arm tackles and keeps his thick legs churning until the whistle blows.

Weaknesses: Just one year as a starting RB and possesses average quickness by NFL standards. Does not seem to always run with those great RB instincts you look for in top prospects. Despite his size, isn't the short-yardage guy you'd expect.

Bottom Line: Clearly looks the part but is far from a sure thing. Definitely worth a look in the 2nd or 3rd round.


Miami (Fla.) (5-11, 194; 4.51)

Strengths: Very quick to — and through — the hole and runs with real shiftiness. Tremendous balance and must be wrapped up or he'll stay on his feet for extra yardage. Downhill runner who is always falling forward and doesn't take many negative plays.

Weaknesses: Currently too small to be an every-down back in the NFL and must put on at least 15 pounds of muscle without losing his fine quickness. Not an accomplished receiver and is an unproven blocker.

Bottom Line: We like Portis' ability, but do not think he is worthy of a first-round pick. It's yet to be seen if he can retain his super quickness and balance once he gains the necessary weight to become an every-down back.


Toledo (5-10, 205; 4.51)

Strengths: Excellent quickness, vision, instincts and always seems to be falling forward. Good cutback and open-field jukes, possessing that rare ability to consistently make people miss. Good hands out of the backfield. Can be split out wide due to his hands and route-running. Above-average speed and burst, clocking a 4.49 last spring.

Weaknesses: Too small to be a feature back and must gain strength. Past ankle problems (surgery on both ankles in 1999 and missed time in 2001); on the gridiron looks more quick than fast (like Emmitt Smith).

Bottom Line: Vastly underrated player who's done nothing but produce big-time results every year at every level.


North Dakota St. (6-0, 215; 4.49)

Strengths: Dominant small-school back with fine size, speed and athleticism, which leads us to believe he could have starred at most Division I-A colleges. Underrated shiftiness and open-field moves and has displayed the type of consistency and durability to lead you to believe he could carry the ball 25 times per game.

Weaknesses: Physically it's all there, but he must work on the details. Put up gargantuan numbers against D-II competition and played in an unsophisticated, option-based offense. Runs too upright at times and runs almost too hard, appearing out of control. Did not catch the ball much or have to pass-protect.

Bottom Line: Fine upside here, but there are also a number of questions as well. Would make a world of sense as a developmental player in the middle rounds.


BYU (6-2, 223; 4.62)

Strengths: Big, strong runner who has the look of a feature back. Powerful and can carry defenders for the extra yard. Very good vision and understands the finer points of the position. Really effective on short passes out of the backfield. Kick-return experience is a plus.

Weaknesses: Injury-prone, missing time every year during his collegiate career. Runs too upright, which exposes him to too many tough hits. Choppy runner who doesn't possess top quickness or acceleration.

Bottom Line: Has everything you could ask for in a feature back except for speed and durability, which in our minds pushes him down the board farther than most.


Georgia (5-10, 225; 4.63)

Strengths: Compact, stocky runner who shows surprising agility for a big back, possessing a very good side-step and spin move. Good tackle-breaker who runs hard and low. Fine balance and generally seems to fall forward. Has displayed decent hands out of the backfield on screens.

Weaknesses: Does not possess a great burst to the hole and looks a step slow, especially noticeable when he breaks free. Less than one full season as "the man" at Georgia.

Bottom Line: True downhill, no-frills runner whose stock has risen as much as any RB's in the country during the past seven months.


East Carolina (6-0, 198; 4.47)

Strengths: Excellent speed and acceleration and came through with a tremendous senior season. Runs with authority and, despite a lack of bulk, will try to run over defenders and scrape for every inch after contact. Good hands, strength and athleticism. Fine instincts and quick burst through the hole.

Weaknesses: Looks a bit thin and will not have success running between the tackles in the NFL.

Bottom Line: Big-play threat whose versatility and ability as a receiver — as well as his acceleration on the corner — are major pluses.



Miami (6-2, 245; 4.56)

Bottom Line: His No. 1 ranking is based more on his ability as a receiver and potential than his pure FB skills. Good receiver, but not a great lead blocker. Must be in the right situation to succeed.


Ohio State (6-0, 251; 4.80)

Bottom Line: Pure lead-blocker who could really flourish in the right situation. Reminds us of former Wisconsin FB and current Philadelphia Eagle Cecil Martin.


New Mexico (6-0, 240; 4.65)

Bottom Line: Difficult to grade, as Baxter is a RB who possesses a FB's build and speed. Would work best in a single-back set. Not a dominant blocker.