My Running Back Rankings

The Lions will be looking for a running back in this draft despite how pleased they are with Jahvid Best and Maurice Morris.  The Lions have the explosive big play threat in Best and a dependable veteran backup in Morris, but they lack a chain moving hard yardage type back.

There is a misconception that those types of backs have to be big backs, but running between the tackles is more than just size.  It’s about instincts, burst, attitude and pad level.  If a player has all those qualities as well as size, then that’s a bonus.

Some mock drafts have the Lions addressing the running back position early in the draft, some even in the first round, and I don’t think that’s really plausible.  There’s good value in the middle rounds of the draft and the Lions have more pressing needs defensively, but if the right player is there at the right time you never know.

There is an outside chance the Lions may not choose a back at all and target undrafted rookie free agents instead (whenever that’s allowed.)  Running back is the easiest NFL position to transition from college to the pros and since they typically have short careers, teams don’t value them as highly as other positions.

Whoever the Lions do draft, they are coming into a clearly defined role and they won’t be relied on to carry the load.  The Lions will most likely split the carries between Best and the new guy 60-40, with Best on the field for 3rd downs and potentially some two back sets where Best will split out wide.  The new back may see the bulk of the short yardage carries, but they may not get all the goal line carries.  Best showed a knack for finding the endzone before his injury and his burst and elite speed make him a threat to bounce runs outside if the blocking breaks down inside.

These rankings will vary from some other rankings you’ll see because these are team specific and scheme specific.  Some players are left off my rankings because they are not a good fit for the Lions. 

Since I have limited resources to work with, my evaluations don’t extend past 3rd or 4th round prospects.  These rankings are based on a combination of various scouting reports, game footage, Senior Bowl practices, Combine coverage, draft related articles and opinions from sources.  The players’ names link to the scouting reports on

My Rank Player, Pos, Team Height Weight
1 Mark Ingram RB, Alabama 5-10 215
2 Mikel Leshoure RB, Illinois 6-0 230
3 Ryan Williams RB, Virginia Tech 5-10 202
4 Jamie Harper RB, Clemson 6-0 230
5 Roy Helu Jr RB, Nebraska 6-0 220
6 Bilal Powell RB, Louisville 6-0 215
7 Allen Bradford RB, USC 6-0 235
8 Daniel Thomas RB, Kansas State 6-2 228
9 Alex Green RB, Hawaii 6-2 230
10 Delone Carter RB, Syracuse 5-10 215

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