Jaguars.com previews the 2007 NFL draft in an eight-part series. Part II features the running backs and fullbacks.
One of the best running back prospects of the last several years will be available to teams at the top of this year's NFL draft. Draftnik Tony Pauline says Adrian Peterson is a "top three talent who will be a top six pick."
Peterson, 6-1, 217, of Oklahoma is a complete back. He's a big, fast and powerful runner who was clocked at 4.42 in the 40 at the scouting combine. Peterson runs through and around defenders and has the ability to become the best back in the game. The only concerns are for injuries that cut short his last two seasons.
No fewer than 10 running backs are considered first-day-of-the-draft prospects. California's Marshawn Lynch (pictured), 5-11, 215, is generally considered to be the position's second-ranked prospect.
Lynch was ultra-productive in college. He's strong and elusive and runs a 4.47. Lynch will pick his way through traffic, has good vision, is tough to bring down and offers potential as a receiver.
"He won't get past Buffalo at 12," Pauline said.
Rutgers' Brian Leonard, 6-1, 225, is a college fullback with running skills that project him as a feature back in the NFL. Leonard is a tough, determined runner who's been compared to Mike Alstott.
"He's faster than Alstott and has a better chance of becoming a feature runner; not as dominant a blocker as Alstott," Pauline said.
Leonard runs a 4.51 and figures to be drafted early in the second round.
Pauline ranks Kenny Irons, 5-10, 203, of Auburn number four. Irons runs a 4.45. He's elusive and plays bigger and faster than his size and 40 time. Irons has good instincts and will play hurt. He's an early-second round prospect.
Number five is Tony Hunt, 6-1, 233, of Penn State. Hunt's stock will rise or fall, depending on what he runs at Penn State's pro day on March 22. Hunt pounded Tennessee into submission in Penn State's bowl win over the Vols, and Hunt followed with a top performance at the Senior Bowl. He's a powerful interior runner who breaks tackles and sets up blocks, but he's not especially elusive or fast; could be a tweener.
Michael Bush, 6-1, 243, of Louisville sustained a season-ending broken leg in the first game of last season. He had a rod inserted into his leg and has yet to run for scouts. Bush showed flashes of brilliance in his college career and offers intriguing upside, especially considering that his injury is likely to drop his draft stock to the late-second round or lower. Concerns are for Bush's upright running style and a penchant for injuries.
Chris Henry, 5-11, 230, of Arizona ran a 4.39 at the combine. He has size, speed and the receiving skills to be a complete package. Henry bursts through the hole and is an aggressive blocker. He got into his coach's doghouse and was productive for only one season. He's a late-second, early-third round prospect who could qualify as a steal.
Ohio State's Antonio Pittman, 5-10, 207, is a quick, slashing runner who finds the cutback lanes. He squeezes through small creases and is an accomplished receiver. Pittman is not an especially strong runner and doesn't play to his 4.42 combine speed, but he'll offer potential as a complementary back in the third round.
Darius Walker, 5-10, 206, of Notre Dame is the perfect third-down back. He's instinctive and patient. What Walker doesn't offer in the way of power, he makes up for with his top-end receiving skills. He plays faster than his 4.55 combine time and figures to be a third-round prospect.
Nebraska's Brandon Jackson, 5-10, 210, is also a top receiver. He's a third-down back who makes defenders miss. The knock on Jackson is that he's a fumbler and doesn't play to his size. He's run a 4.53 and is a third-round prospect.
Second-day picks at running back include Kolby Smith of Louisville, Lorenzo Booker of Florida State and Deshawn Wynn of Florida.
The fullback crop is all-time weak. "If three fullbacks are drafted, that'll be a lot," Pauline said.
Cory Anderson, 6-2, 247, of Tennessee, Jason Snelling, 5-11, 230, of Virginia, and Le'Ron McClain, 6-0, 258, of Alabama are the fullback prospects.