It is no secret that the Washington Redskins are eyeing a running back in next month’s NFL draft. Doug Williams, senior vice president of player personnel, has mentioned addressing the position several times and the team hasn’t seemed interested in any backs in free agency.
Coach Jay Gruden reiterated that intention at the owners meetings Tuesday when he said “there will be another running back in the building” by the time the draft is over.
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley (6-foot, 233 pounds) is the consensus No. 1 back in the draft, and arguably the top player regardless of position. He finished his collegiate career ranked No. 2 in Penn State history with 3,843 rushing yards and put on a spectacular performance at the NFL combine — ranking No. 2 among running backs with a 4.40 40-yard dash while his 29 bench press repetitions tied for first. Of the top 77 career rushers in Penn State history, he’s the only one to also have 1,000 career receiving yards.
Barkley is expected to go long before the Redskins’ No. 13 pick is called, but the 2018 running back class is extremely deep and Washington likely will target a rusher beyond the first round.
Here’s a look at the top backs after Barkley.
Derrius Guice (5-10, 212 pounds)
The LSU product ran for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior after posting 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore. His 3,074 career rushing yards rank No. 5 in school history, right behind 2017 No. 4 overall pick Leonard Fournette. His 4.49-second 40-yard dash ranked fifth among running backs at the combine. Guice is a powerful runner in the mold of Marshawn Lynch, but was slowed by injuries in 2017.
Ronald Jones (5-11, 200 pounds)
The Southern Cal junior finished 2017 ranked No. 8 in the nation with 1,550 rushing yards and his career total of 3,619 ranks No. 5 in school history. His 19 rushing touchdowns tied for the fifth most in the nation and Jones was named first-team all-Pac-12. He ran a 4.65 40-yard dash at the combine. Jones is slippery, but also a bit slight.
Sony Michel (5-11, 220 pounds)
The senior from Georgia ran for 1,227 yards and 16 touchdowns despite sharing time with Nick Chubb. His 7.9 yards per carry ranked fifth in the nation, and he finished as the Bulldogs’ No. 3 all-time rusher with 3,613 yards. Michel’s 33 rushing touchdowns is tied with Garrison Hearst for No. 5 in Georgia history.
Nick Chubb (5-11, 228 pounds)
The four-year Georgia senior looked to have the ability to chase down Herschel Walker’s school rushing record after running for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman, but a stomach-turning knee injury in 2015 ended his season after six games. The 2014 SEC freshman of the year finished his career with 4,769 rushing yards and 44 rushing touchdowns, second behind only Walker. His 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine was tied for No. 6 among running backs and his 29 bench press reps tied Barkley for the most at the position. Chubb had a fantastic career, but was never quite as dynamic as he was before tearing several ligaments in his left knee, though not the anterior cruciate ligament.
Rashaad Penny (5-11, 220 pounds)
The San Diego State senior led the NCAA with 2,248 rushing yards and was No. 6 in the nation with 7.8 yards per carry. That’s the fifth-best single season in NCAA history, behind Barry Sanders, Melvin Gordon, Kevin Smith and Marcus Allen. He more than doubled his 1,018 yards from 2016 and wrapped up his career with 3,656 yards, behind only Donnel Pumphrey and Marshall Faulk in school history. Penny’s 4.46 40-yard dash was tied for No. 3 in this year’s combine among running backs.
Kerryon Johnson (6-0, 212 pounds)
The 2017 SEC offensive player of the year finished 20th in the NCAA with 1,391 rushing yards in 2017. The junior is now 11th in Auburn history with 2,494 rushing yards and is tied with Tre Mason in fourth place with 32 rushing touchdowns. His 40.0-inch vertical jump was tied for No. 2 at the combine behind Barkley and his 126.0-inch broad jump was third best.
Royce Freeman (5-11, 234 pounds)
Featuring an ideal combination of size and speed, Freeman totaled 5,621 career rushing yards to finish as Oregon’s all-time leader and seventh in NCAA history. His 60 rushing touchdowns is also a school record and ranks No. 10 in the national record books. Injuries and a coaching change seemed to have an impact after an 1,836-yard explosion as a sophomore. Still, his 1,475 yards as a senior ranked No. 11 in the country.
John Kelly (5-9, 205 pounds)
The powerful runner didn’t exactly light up stat sheet with just 778 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, but he did catch 37 passes and was featured in a Tennessee offense that ranked dead last in the SEC. The junior is a different runner than former teammate and current New Orleans Saint Alvin Kamara, but there is a thought he could have a better NFL career than his college numbers indicate.
Bo Scarbrough (6-1, 232 pounds)
Can Scarbrough follow in the footsteps of previous Alabama runners T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry with a second-round selection? That’s unlikely after working within an offense that revolved around quarterback Jalen Hurts. The junior rushed for 596 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 after going for 812 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore. His size stands out immediately, but he ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine that tied for No. 6 among running backs. Scarbrough is a big, strong runner that was not involved in the passing game.
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