NFL Draft 2018: Top Running Back Prospects for the Redskins
Penn State, 5-foot-11, 230 lbs
2017 Stats: 13 games, 1,271 rushing yards, 5.9 yard per carry, 54 receptions, 21 touchdowns
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley isn’t just the top running back prospect in the 2018 class. The elite talent might end up as the first overall selection.
As a reminder, the Redskins currently own the No. 13 pick in the first round. That means making a major move up if they covet Barkley. Considering the production, including 1,903 yards from scrimmage, they just might, covet, that is. Nine of the top 10 NFL rushing offenses this season reached the postseason. Having a dynamic threat like Barkley isn’t required for such heights, but it sure helps.
If somehow the Redskins engage the Browns in trade talk for Kirk Cousins and either Cleveland’s No. 1 or No. 4 overall selection is in play… Fine, the odds of Robert Griffin III returning to Ashburn might be higher, but folks can dare to dream.
LSU, 5-foot-11, 218 lbs
2017 Stats: 12 games, 1,251 rushing yards, 5.3 yard per carry, 18 receptions, 13 touchdowns
Even if the Redskins are laser focused on the running backs, there simply might not be any realistic options in the middle of round one. Guice, a dual threat armed with elusive moves, is generally considered second in the class behind Barkley.
Unlike the back he replaced in college, Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette, Guice doesn’t appear to have top-10 upside. That doesn’t mean the 218-pounder can’t help. If he runs faster than a 4.5 40-time at the Combine, Guice could surge up draft boards.
Auburn, 5-foot-11, 212 lbs
2017 Stats: 12 games, 1,391 rushing yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 24 receptions, 20 touchdowns
The true strength of the RB class comes in rounds two and three. Several talents coming out of the Southeastern Conference stand out in this range including Johnson.
From Walter Football.com: “Versus both defenses loaded with NFL talent, Johnson showed real quickness with good cutting ability, vision, and decisive downhill running. He also played banged up, illustrating his toughness to withstand a heavy work load and some hard hits.”
If you’re looking to wager – for fun, of course – on one of the backs currently projected outside of the first round to move up, Johnson seems like a good bet.
Georgia, 5-foot-11, 215 lbs
2017 Stats: 14 games, 1,227 rushing yards, 7.9 yards per carry, nine receptions, 17 touchdowns
Nick Chubb, another possible Day 2 selection, received more hype than his college teammate, but the other guy was the flashier of the two main options in the Bulldogs backfield. Michel exploded in the Rose Bowl with 181 yards and three touchdowns against Oklahoma.
Don’t let the lack of catches fool you. Michel has three-down potential thanks to solid receiving and blocking skills. Could be awfully tempting for the Redskins in round two depending on needs.
San Diego State, 5-foot-11, 224 lbs
2017 Stats: 13 games, 2,248 rushing yards, 7.8 yards per carry, 19 receptions, 19 touchdowns
The nation’s leading rusher had a mixed week at the Senior Bowl. ESPN’s Todd McShay was among those down on the former Aztec star after practices, saying, “he just didn't seem to be dialed in and wasn't the same player I studied. He seemed like he fought the ball at times and missed some open holes.”
Then Penny led all runners with 64 yards on the ground, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, and scored on a 73-yard touchdown.
Ronald Jones II
USC, 6-foot-1, 200 lbs
2017 Stats: 13 games, 1,550 rushing yards, 5.9 yards per carry, 14 receptions, 20 touchdowns
Formed a dynamic backfield for the Trojans along with quarterback Sam Darnold. Selected first-team All Pac-12.
From Walter Football: “Jones ran really well for USC in 2017, showing more decisiveness and displaying more power after gaining weight in the offseason. … Is a quick and shifty runner with starting potential.
Alabama, 6-foot-1, 232 lbs
2017 Stats: 14 games, 596 rushing yards, 4.8 yard per carry, 17 receptions, eight touchdowns
Scarbrough’s power helped push the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championship game appearances, yet had a disappointing 2017 campaign. Blame inconsistency and injuries, but also the presence of lead back Damien Harris for limiting opportunities.
The former five-star recruit has legitimate talent. Could turn into a real steal if he lands in the right spot. That’s probably not Washington considering the presence of Perine, but passing on talent in the later rounds is rarely wise.
Iowa, 5-foot-10, 188 lbs
2017 Stats: 13 games, 1,109 rushing yards, 4.4 yard per carry, 28 receptions, 13 touchdowns
Rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns in regular season finale at Nebraska. Wadley was named the top practice player among running backs at the Senior Bowl. Offers three-down potential.