'09 NFL Draft: Top 10 RB prospects
LeSean McCoy has the skills to be star at next level
Lack of elite speed could hold back Shonn Greene
Liberty's Rashad Jennings is a potential sleeper
With the NFL combine set to begin this week in Indianapolis, SI.com's Bucky Brooks, a former scout, is ranking the top 2009 draft prospects by position group. The lists were compiled through a series of conversations with scouts and game-tape evaluations. The schedule will be as follows:
1. LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh: McCoy has the uncanny ability to turn negative plays into big gains. As an inside runner, he shows the requisite toughness and power to grind it out persistently between the tackles. With better than advertised receiving skills, he is a dangerous threat out of the backfield. Though he entered the draft with little fanfare, McCoy is a special talent who could be the top back taken.
2. Knowshon Moreno, Georgia: He rushed for 1,400 yards with 14 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in the rugged SEC. Though he has the appearance of a change-of-pace runner, his ferocious running style makes him suited to carry the load as a feature back. Additionally, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield makes him a rare "three-down" threat in the lineup. He could make an instant impact as a rookie, which is why many teams will consider him the top back available.
3. Chris "Beanie" Wells, Ohio State: Wells ran for nearly 1,200 yards last season, despite missing three games with a foot injury. Though Wells' injury history is a concern, scouts cite his production when healthy as an indication he has the potential to be an outstanding feature back. As a tough, hard-nosed runner with deceptive quickness and elusiveness, Wells is a grinder who flashes big play ability. With more teams opting for two-back systems, Wells may thrive as a smash-mouth, complementary runner.
4. Donald Brown, Connecticut: An electrifying runner with excellent quickness, Brown led the nation in rushing and spearheaded the Huskies' offense last season. Though his pinball running style occasionally results in negative plays, Brown's elusiveness makes him a dangerous playmaker capable of breaking off big runs. Scouts have to reconcile whether he can handle the workload as a feature back.
5. Shonn Greene, Iowa: The Big Ten rushing leader ran roughshod through the league enroute to 1,729 rushing yards. Although Greene lacks elite top speed, he is a highly productive runner due to his superb vision, instincts and cutback ability. He is regarded as one of the best finishers in the game, and has a knack for gaining yards after contact. While some scouts have concerns about Greene's work ethic and character, his talent and upside make him worthy of consideration in the second round.
6. Glen Coffee, Alabama: The SEC's second-leading rusher is a hard-nosed runner with good speed and quickness. Coffee excels at running between the tackles, but also flashes enough burst to get to the corner. While Coffee carries a bit of a "one-year wonder" tag due to his dramatic surge in production as a junior, some scouts envision the early entrant blossoming into a quality feature back on the next level.
7. Javon Ringer, Michigan State: The Spartans' workhorse lacks the sizzle of some other runners, but he can be productive. He grinds out tough yards between the tackles and flashes nifty footwork and quickness in the hole. Although Ringer lacks the breakaway speed to take it the distance, look for him to get consideration near the top of the third round.
8. Rashad Jennings, Liberty: The small school standout rushed for over 1,500 yards while displaying outstanding footwork and quickness. His detractors say his gaudy production was compiled against inferior competition. Still, Jennings' exceptional size (6-foot-1, 234 pounds) and all-around skills have scouts intrigued about the former Pitt transfer. After his solid showing during Senior Bowl practices, Jennings has entered the discussion as a third-round possibility.
9. Jeremiah Johnson, Oregon: The former Duck bounced back from a knee injury as a junior to have a productive senior season (1,201 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns). Though scouts are leery of his size, Johnson's potential to impact the game as a change-of-pace back will entice a team to pull the trigger in the third round.
10. James Davis, Clemson: A nifty cutback runner with excellent vision and running skills, Davis finds a way to slither through creases to get to the second level. He may never develop into a front-line starter, but he could blossom into a solid complementary runner in the right system.