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2005 NFL RB Draft Class
Stock Watch through Week 3
9/20/04

Rising

Cedric Benson, Texas (4SR) - avoided a letdown by his team to Arkansas in back-to-back years when he took a pass on broken play 13 yards for the eventual winning TD. He also rushed for over 180 yards for the second consecutive game and ran in his third TD of the season. With talented back-up 3JR Selvin Young out for the year with a broken ankle, Benson will be leaned on even more this year. His Heisman campaign is in full swing and he's off to a faster start than Cadillac Williams in the race to be the first RB selected.

J.J. Arrington, California (4SR) - on what is supposed to be a pass-oriented offense, Arrington's running is leading them to victory. He posted incredible, nearly identical, rushing stats the first two weeks: 16/177/3 and 16/181/3, for an 11.2 ypc average. He's also been involved in the passing game, adding value in demonstrating he can bring the whole package.

Jermelle Lewis, Iowa (5SR) - a nice size/speed package, he returned early from a torn ACL late last season and big things were expected from him this season. However, he was suspended by the team for the season-opener against Kent State. Last week against Illinois State he returned, was immediately back in the feature role, and finished with 30/102/0. Iowa is a visible program that has had a strong running game, and Lewis should be the latest back to find similar success this season, if he keeps healthy and out of trouble. Unlike Fred Russell, he brings measurables that should have scouts interested and see him as more than a product of the system.

Holding

Carnell Williams, Auburn (4SR) - posted 19/122/2 in a win at Miss. St., to start the season with consecutive 100-yard games. It was the 13th 100-yard game of his career.

Ronnie Brown, Auburn (4SR) - after getting only 7/55/1 in the opener, he saw more work this week in another blowout. He bettered Williams' yardage totals with 147 on 15 carries and 2 receptions for 16, but didn't reach the end zone.

Kay-Jay Harris, WVU (4SR) - after a record-breaking 25/337/4 debut as a starter in their season-opening blowout of ECU, Harris's encore at Central Florida was cut short. He left after the first series with a pulled hamstring, getting only 2 carries for 7 yards. The running game was still strong in their victory, with 3SO Jason Colson leading the way with 21/108/1. His stock took a huge bump after the first game, but scouts will be anxious to see it wasn't a fluke. If he misses significant time due the injury, it will erase the leap - especially if the running game continues to succeed without him. He is questionable against Maryland this week, which will be the first real test for this team.

Cedric Houston, Tennessee (4SR) - finished with a solid 12/97/0 in an easy win over UNLV, but injury problems return again, as he sprained his ankle in the game. Fortunately for him, the team had an early season by, and he is expected to be ready for a crucial match-up against Florida this week. 3JR Gerald Riggs shared the workload, and also performed well, so it looks like a RBBC will still be in effect.

Bobby Purify, Colorado (5SR) - rebounded from a 2003 lost to injury nicely with a 16/189/1 effort in a season-opening win over rival Colorado State. Followed that up with a mediocre 20/53/0 day in a win at Washington State. He'll need more of the former and less of the latter to build his draft value back up.

Lydell Ross, Ohio State (4SR) - after shredding Cincinnati for 17/141/1, Ross was steady, but unspectacular, posting 24/90/0 and 2/27/0 in a over Marshall. Of note was no other RB received a carry in what was a close game from start to finish.

Falling

Walter Reyes, Syracuse (5SR) - after abysmal 12/31/0 day in their blowout season-opening loss at Purdue, there was improvement at Buffalo. Finished with 17/59/1 in the win, but was outperformed by talented back-up 3JR Damien Rhodes, who led the team with 10/85/1, most of it on a 46-yard TD run.

Anthony Davis, Wisconsin (5SR) - returned from an injury-plagued 2003 to lead the team in rushing with 13/78/1 in a season-opening win over Central Florida. However, he had to leave the game early after suffering an eye injury in the second quarter. The eye is worse than expected, and he sat out for their victory over UNLV, but is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks.

Darren Sproles, Kansas State (4SR) - had his standard amazing game in their season-opening victory, rushing 42 times for 221 yards and a touchdown. However, he was MIA in an upset loss to Fresno State last week, finishing 11/37/0. He also has not been involved in the passing game. At his size, despite his previous accomplishments, he needs to be incredible every week to keep up his draft grade.

Brandon Jacobs, Southern Illinois (4SR) - ran all over SEMO with 18/106/4 in his season debut, but was out gained not by fellow highly-touted DI-A transfer 5SR Terry Jackson (who had 10/48/0), but by 2SO Arkee Whitlock, who had 18/109/1. In their loss at DI-A Northern Illinois, Jacobs again split carries (13) evenly with Whitlock, and Whitlock was more productive by better by a wider margin (96 yards to Jacob's 41 yards). It hurts that he failed to find success against the only DI-A team on their schedule. Also, continuing to be outperformed by Whitlock won't help.

Lionel Gates, Louisville (4SR) - nominal starter in a crowded situation, Gates started the season very well with 14/112/2 in a win over Kentucky. Then surprisingly struggled in what was a blowout of Army, managing to total only 11/18/1. 2SO Michael Bush is getting as many carries and 4JR Eric Shelton remains in the picture too.

Patrick Cobbs, North Texas (4SR) - the leading ypg rusher in D-IA last year is off to a horrible start. He broke his right hand just before the season began, and has been playing with a cast. At Texas in the season-opener, he rushed for -1 yard on 8 carries in a thrashing by the Longhorns. He wasn't much better in a loss to Florida Atlantic last week, finishing with 20/57/0. He left that game early after injuring his knee, and is expected to miss at least this week's game. Undersized, his draft value was already questionable, now it is all but gone, until he returns.

Ryan Grant, Notre Dame (4SR) - missed opening loss at BYU with hamstring injury and was limited to 4 carries for 9 yards in upset over Michigan. More detrimental to his draft value was the emergence of 1FR Darius Walker, who helped carry the team to victory with 115 yards and 2 fourth quarter TDs.

David Underwood, Michigan (4SR) - Despite rushing for 2 TDs in a win against Miami-Ohio, his 2.8 ypc on 22 for 61 yards was unimpressive. On his first carry at Notre Dame, Underwood was knocked out of the game with an undisclosed injury. His arms and legs appeared fine, and he was walking around on the sidelines, so it may have been a concussion or internal injury. The upside for Underwood's draft hopes is if he's not seriously hurt, back-up 2SO Jerome Jackson has not been impressive, either.

Jamaal Branch, Colgate (5SR) - Walter Payton award winner and his DI-AA runner-up team failed to start new season off well. Limited to 23/62/1 in a season-opening loss, he was outperformed by UMass 3JR Steve Baylark, who posted 18/115/2.

Jabari Davis, Tennessee (4SR) - saw only 3 carries for 16 yards in a blowout of UNLV. He appears to be out of the picture for the feature job and now fourth in line for touches (in addition to 4SR Cedric Houston remaining the starter, 3JR Gerald Riggs and 5SR Corey Larkins saw more work, and were successful). A small window of opportunity remains, as Houston already sprained his ankle in the season-opener.

Marcus Houston, Colorado State (5SR) - Houston and the Rams have gotten off to a horrific start. He posted 20/44/1 in a season-opening loss to his former school, Colorado, which he had his best performance of the year against in 2003. He followed that up with a single yard on 5 carries in beating delivered to the Rams last week at USC. His inability to be a difference-maker means this team will once again be a RBBC and despite his potential, he has to be off draft boards, at this point.

Top Underclassmen Eligible for Draft

Marion Barber, Minnesota (4JR) - he's split carries exactly even with 2SO Laurence Maroney, but continues to post great numbers despite that. He posted 14/78/2 and 18/149/2 in big wins against Toledo and Illinois State.

Vernand Morency, Oklahoma State (3JR) - after battling injuries through the spring and training camp, which resulted in him being listed as low as third on the depth chart, he is clearly the feature back and delivering on the promise he showed last season. His season-opening 29/261/2 was overshadowed by Kay-Jay Harris's debut, but is probably more impressive as it came away and against a better opponent (UCLA). He continued to role with 29/184/1 against Tulsa last week. On a team that is only passing 8 times a game, he is looking at a huge year.

Ryan Moats, Louisiana Tech (3JR) - perhaps the biggest RB story early this year is Moats. He has rushed for 257 in both of Tech's first two games, carrying his team to wins against Nevada and UL - Lafayette. He had a tremendous season as a sophomore in 2003, setting multiple team records and finishing first team All-WAC, so his emergence isn't a complete surprise. However, his measurables are a bit less than ideal and heading into the season, wasn't considered to have high potential to declare early. Granted his success has not been against great competition, but if he keeps it up, scouts will keep paying attention.

T.A. McClendon, North Carolina State (3JR) - what was expected to be a breakout season for a potential superstar has started with injuries again hampering him and HC Chuck Amato upset about his ability to recover. He missed their first game, a blowout of Richmond. In his absence, a collection of promising younger runners have impressed, and they should cut into McClendon's touches even once he's healthy.

Wali Lundy, Virginia (3JR) - just like in 2003, he is off to a strong start, and continuing to display a nose for the end zone, again this year. He began with 25/104/3 in a win at Temple and followed up with a strong 11/73/3 win against North Carolina. The UNC game was a reminder that the Cavaliers backfield is filled with talent and will prevent him for posting even bigger numbers any given week.

Eric Shelton, Louisville (4JR) - he has been an afterthought in the Cardinals first two wins, totaling just 16/81/0, as 4SR Lionel Gates and 2SO Michael Bush split the majority of work.

DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (3JR) - picked up where he left off in 2003, he is one of the leading all-purpose producers in the country. He's gone over 100 yards rushing in both games and has 5 total TDs.

DonTrell Moore, New Mexico (4JR) - had a huge day in a season-opening close loss to Washington State, posting 24/167/1. He had over 100 yards combined in a win over Texas Tech last week. He's been much more involved in the passing game, totaling 7 reception already (he only had 11 last year), improving his value.



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