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2014 NFL Draft: RB Big Board

We kicked off big boards yesterday with the QBs. Today, we head to the ball carriers.

Streeter Lecka

Well yesterday, we started my big board series with the signal callers. Today, we'll drop behind them a couple yards and look at the ball carriers.

With the NFL fully entrenched in a confused era for RBs, it's harder than ever to evaluate college prospects. Does a prospect who is an elite speed/change of pace (COP) guy who may only be useful 1/2 of all running opportunities outvalue a "good" every down back? I don't have answers. Most NFL franchises don't really either. We're still seeing if their attempts to figure this out work one way or the other. That being said, trading up for Mark Ingram is still a hot, boiling pile of nonsense...

Let's get into the board:

# Name School Year
1 Lache Seastrunk Baylor RS Jr.
2 James Wilder, Jr. Florida St. Jr.
3 Ka'Deem Carey Arizona Jr.
4 De'Anthony Thomas Oregon Jr.
5 Bishop Sankey Washington Jr.
6 Michael Dyer Arkansas Baptist RS Jr.
7 Storm Woods Oregon St. RS Soph.
8 Charles Sims West Virginia RS Sr.
9 Jerome Smith Syracuse RS Jr.
10 Ameer Abdullah Nebraska Jr.
11 Silas Redd USC Sr.
12 Isaiah Crowell Alabama St.
13 Storm Johnson UCF RS Jr.
14 Melvin Gordon Wisconsin RS Soph.
15 Malcolm Brown Texas Jr.
16 Alfred Blue LSU Sr.
17 Jay Ajayi Boise St. RS Soph.
18 Carlos Hyde Ohio St. RS Sr.
19 Antonio Andrews Western Kentucky Sr.
20 LaDarius Perkins Mississippi St. RS Sr.

Time for the notes:

- James Wilder, Jr., on skills alone, would be my number one. But this is one of the rare situations where off-field stuff factors in for me. The dude just has been in some random legally unabstainable situations, minor though the transgressions are. And that was before the spotlight...if he can turn his approach around though, he could easily be the top RB next April. Phenomenal balance and drive, nice agility and acceleration and a great backstory dealing with the legacy as the son of former Missouri and Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout RB James Wilder (hence the Jr.). But yo, get this dude a life mentor. ASAP.

- De'Anthony Thomas is the fastest guy on this list. He's got an automatic spot in the NFL. But as much as we heard about Tavon Austin's size, that's going to be the trope here. Like Austin, it's a fair concern. The question is how you incorporate these kinds of players that thrive in the hot-plate experimental world of college football into the rigid, stubborn world of NFL strategy (unless Chip Kelly helps the Eagles go 13-3 and we start this whole damn thing from scratch...). What AFC teams would take a 1st or early 2nd on DAT? How many teams already have a COP guy they're comfortable with? This is one of my favorite stories of the modern NFL moving forward is seeing how the small frame/elite speed guys find their way into the NFL world of bigger, slower, more powerful behemoths.

- Dyer and Crowell have enough talent to warrant selections. Their time away from top competition isn't going to help though.

- On the other hand, Sims could explode this year with the Mountaineers after transferring from Houston.

- Another guy I like to rise this year? Malcolm Brown. Now, that's contingent on health, and that can't be taken lightly at this point. He's missed nearly a third of the Longhorns' games due to various ankle and foot injuries (something that goes back to high school). And yes, he'll split carries with Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron. But if he can find the field and get in a groove this year, he could finally begin to deliver on the lofty praise (and value) he was getting as a recruit.

As always, this list is going to change quite a bit. I've got three RS sophomores on there, and that class still has plenty of football in front of them before they even sniff the NFL.

What names didn't make my board that you're tracking this year? Any backfield battles interest you most (i.e. Texas, Wisconsin...North Texas...)?

If you're still hungry for draft stuff, head over to Mocking the Draft for the finest draft coverage around. No RB scouting reports in their top 64 overall big board, but plenty coming down the road.