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2005 NFL RB Draft Class
Stock Watch through Week 8
10/22/04

Rising

Ronnie Brown, Auburn (5SR) - Where Cadillac is failing to gain separation from the pack with the exceptional, Brown is closing the gap on perception of him as a back-up with his consistency. He bettered Williams with a 10/109/1 day in a blowout of LaTech. Against Arkansas he had his second-straight 100-yard game and again outperformed Williams with more yards (101 to 71) on less carries (15 to 16), as well as scoring a TD in his third consecutive game. He's increased his impressive average to 7.77 ypc. With an advantage in size and receiving skills, it is no longer looking inconceivable he could be drafted before Williams. As Carnell Williams is "Cadillac", teammates are now referring to Brown, the larger and more powerful of the two RBs, as "The Hummer".

J.J. Arrington, California (4SR) - Despite the loss to USC on 10/9, Arrington was impressive with 112 yards on 21 carries and 4 receptions for 26 yards against the top team in the land. He followed that up with a career game in a big win over UCLA, where the entire offense ran nearly flawless. Arrington posted a career-high 205 yards on 29 carries, and scored 2 TDs. It was his fifth-straight 100-yard game and further solidifies his standing as the breakout senior RB of the year.

Lionel Gates, Louisville (4SR) - Used a bye week to get healthy and then had a huge day in what should have been an upset at Miami on a Wednesday night game 10/14. Gates rushed for their first and last TD, and caught one in between. He ran with great authority, barrelling in for two goal-line TDs and running over Miami SS Greg Threat to break a long run in the second half. He finished the day with 109 yards on just 13 carries and 3 receptions for 36 yards. He took advantage of prime time national TV appearance against an elite opponent to put his excellent size/speed package as a runner, as well as his versatility as a receiver and kick returner, on display. His draft value received a nice boost due to the effort.

Anthony Davis, Wisconsin (5SR) - A 200-yard day against Illinois at home is one thing, but 168 yards and a TD in a victory at Ohio State is another. Davis tremendously helped his value with not only a big day in a huge game, but by being a workhorse with 39 carries. In a huge win at Purdue last week, he was limited to just 66 yards on 18 carries with a TD. The Boilmakers committed to stopping Davis and forcing the pass to beat them throughout the game.

Brandon Jacobs, Southern Illinois (4SR) - After battling muscle tightness and seeing his role decrease the last few games, Jacobs bounced back with 16/82/0 in a blowout of Youngstown State. However, 2SO Arkee Whitlock outperformed him again, on less carries, finishing with 14/97/1. Last week, Jacobs took a big step forward against Western Kentucky, leading the team in carries, rushing yards, and TDs with a great 19/97/3 day.

Holding

Cedric Benson, Texas (4SR) - The numbers (12/92/0 and 3/33/0 receiving) against Oklahoma were solid, but the results, once again, were not. Benson missed an opportunity to make a statement about his intangibles and ability to elevate his game. Furthermore, he was upstaged in his last Red River Shootout by Sooner 1FR Adrian Peterson, who left the game with the Heisman talk that could have belonged to Benson, adding insult to injury. He shook off the disappointment of the loss to Oklahoma last week with 26/150/2 and a reception for 20 yards in a win over Missouri. It was third multi-TD game of the season and his fifth game of 150 or more yards, which also propelled him into the number one rushing slot in the nation, with 164.67 ypg. Texas is 20-0 when he rushes for 100 yards in a game. In the Missouri game, he not only avoided a hangover from the Oklahoma game, but showed excellent resolve to overcome an uncharacteristic three fumbles, two of which he recovered himself. Up by just 7 in the 4th quarter, he was a workhorse on an 11-play drive, carrying the ball on nine of the plays, including the last seven consecutive plays, for 59 yards, ending it with a 14-yard TD run that that put Texas up for good. Benson still remains the top RB prospect, but a big performance in a huge win against the Sooners would have had front offices looking beyond his already appealing physical attributes and seeing a guy ready to step in as a franchise player.

Carnell Williams, Auburn (4SR) - Without a 100-yard game in four weeks, he had a mediocre 12/56/1 day in a blowout of LaTech on 10/9 and followed it up with a solid, but unspectacular, 71 yards on 16 carries and a TD over Arkansas. He has also returned to being the primary punt and kick returner the last few weeks. Many coaches are reluctant to give these duties to an offensive star, but with the luxury of a Ronnie Brown on his roster, HC Tommy Tuberville can risk utilizing Williams and his great ability in these roles. Cadillac is still searching for that statement game or impressive string of games that will define his season. The talent is still there and the past accomplishments will be appear on paper, but he has not yet cemented a place in the minds of NFL teams this year with a performance they can point to and say, "Look how special this guy can be".

Falling

Kay-Jay Harris, WVU (4SR) - inconsistency and being a bit injury-prone have knocked some of the luster off his big start to the season. He aggravated knee and ankle injuries in the 10/2 VaTech game and despite having a bye week to heal up, missed the 10/13 contest against UConn. Harris should wow them in workouts, but he's working with a thin resume in this being his first year as a starter and now brings serious durability questions to the table. The success of the young runners behind also brings into question his individual talent vs. team and scheme.

Walter Reyes, Syracuse (5SR) - Took another slight dip in his roller coaster season, with 14/27/0 in a closer than expected loss to FSU on 10/9. He did display some of the value-added receiving skills he has, catching 6 passes for 51 yards. No top prospect is hurt more by his supporting cast than Reyes and he'll need a strong finish after the bye last week to propel himself back into the Day One picture.

Cedric Houston, Tennessee (4SR) - After losing his feature role to RBBC with 3JR Gerald Riggs, he appeared to digress further at Georgia, despite a huge win for the team. He was nearly useless, with 28 yards on 16 carries, while Riggs helped lead the way to victory with 102 yards on 26 carries. Last week Houston's season continued to head the wrong way, as he not only lost his starting job to Riggs, but after a miserable 4 yards on 6 carry effort (while Riggs had his second-straight 100 yard game), it appears to no longer be a RBBC. Despite the pedigree and measurables of a first round pick, the lack of confidence displayed by HC Phil Fulmer in him will not be forgotten come draft day.

Darren Sproles, Kansas State (4SR) - The Wildcats and Sproles continue to disappoint, as the team lost what should have been a winnable game at Kansas, and Sproles finished with only 14/73/0. KSU then hung tough last week against Oklahoma not thanks to Darren Sproles, but in spite of him. Although he scored a one-yard TD on the opening drive, he rushed 13 times for 34 yards on the day, his worst effort since his freshman year in 2001.

Bobby Purify, Colorado (5SR) - Suffering a partially separated shoulder the previous week, Purify only saw 6 carries, totaling 26 yards on 10/9. FB tweener 3JR Lawrence Vickers assumed more of the load with Purify injured, and the game being a blowout loss to Oklahoma State, finishing with 15/72/1. He once again tried to play through pain last Saturday, but left the game after a few carries in the third quarter, leaving the load to Vickers again. Before leaving, Purify put in a solid effort with 14 /71/0 and 2/19/0 receiving in a victory over Iowa State in a low-scoring game.

Ryan Grant, Notre Dame (4SR) - Bounced back from injuries keeping him out of the previous two games and regained involvement in running game, splitting carries almost evenly with breakout 1FR Darius Walker. Finished win against Stanford with 19/67/2 (to Walker's 20/82/0). HC Ty Willingham tried to rebuild Grant's confidence feeding him the ball last Saturday at Navy, against an overmatched Midshipmen squad in the Irish's 41st consecutive win against them. Grant finished with a season-high 114 yards and 2 TDs on 20 carries, nearly doubling all his season-to-date stats. He'll need more efforts like this against better competition to regain some draft value.

Falling Significantly

Lydell Ross, Ohio State (4SR) - Limited to just 30 yards on 7 carries by a suffocating Badger defense in a loss to Wisconsin at home. 1 FR Antonio Pittman was more impressive, with 4 carries for 48 yards. The bottom appears to have fallen out on his season, as well as the team, at Iowa. In a dismantling of the Buckeyes by the Hawkeyes, Ross netted 0 yards on 10 carries. Pittman, who is averaging over 2 more ypc, should begin to see more work.

David Underwood, Michigan (4SR) - Despite apparently being over his concussion that cost him two game, he did not play in a comeback win vs. Minnesota. In fact, no RB besides 1FR Mike Hart carries the ball. Hart did nothing to jeopardize his standing as RB1, with a huge day in comeback victory, finishing with 35/160/1 on the ground and 6/53/0 through the air. Another 1FR, Max Martin, appears to be entering games ahead of Underwood on the depth chart, at this point. The youngsters have dropped him into a mix with 2SO Jerome Jackson and 3SO Pierre Rembert for the scraps, all but eliminating his draft prospects. The door appears slammed shut on his season last week at Illinois, when Underwood failed to get into the game again and Hart was the workhorse to the tune of 40/234/1.

Top Underclassmen Eligible for Draft

Vernand Morency, Oklahoma State (3JR) - Had his fifth-straight 100-yard game with 27/165/2 in a dismantling of the Buffalos at Colorado on 10/9. The effort propelled him into the top spot among runners in D-IA with 173.80 ypg. Morency and the team ran into a road block at home against Texas A&M. While Morency's measurables and running skills draw comparisons to Tatum Bell, it was his fumbling that did so against the Aggies. His fumbles on consecutive drives contributed to the loss, but Morency still ended with 111 yards on 28 carries. He dropped to second in ypg with 163.33, behind Cedric Benson. It was Benson's sixth-straight 100 yard game, and he also scored a TD, keeping a nine game streak (including last three games of 2003) alive. The fumbles lost were only his first two of the year, though.

DeAngelo Williams, Memphis (3JR) - kept on rolling after the bye with 19/132/2 in beating up on Tulane. Tied for D-IA lead with 12 rushing TDs and he has no fumbles in 166 rushing attempts. 1FR Joseph Doss is beginning to see more work, with could be a sign Memphis is preparing for Williams to declare.

T.A. McClendon, North Carolina State (3JR) - Continued to rebound from his injury-related slow start by posting his second-straight 100-yard game, with 19/117/1 in a loss at North Carolina on 10/9. Injury woes returned last week at Maryland, as he hurt his hamstring on the opening series, after 1 run for 9 yards, and did not return to the game. NC State won the game and McClendon should be back this week.

Ciatrick Fason, Florida (3JR) - Finished with 21/92/1 in a loss to LSU. With Fason having eliminated the RBBC, HC Ron Zook appeared to throw 3SO DeShawn Wynn a bone last week in a blowout of MTSU. Fason was limited to 12/48/1, while Wynn saw his first significant action since early in the season, rushing 15/81/3.

Marion Barber, Minnesota (4JR) - With a 13/40/1 effort in a loss to Michigan on 10/9, he fell a bit further behind 2SO Laurence Maroney (who had his seventh-straight 100-yard game). Hangover from the Michigan loss hurt Minnesota and Barber, who finished with only 8 carries for 36 yards, as the team had to abandon their normally potent run game early after Michigan State built a large home lead by the half and blew the Gophers out.

Ryan Moats, Louisiana Tech (3JR) - Left a blowout loss at Auburn after 3 carries (0 yards) with a sprained ankle. The injury was not thought to be serious, but the appearance cost him the top rushing spot, killing his average per game. Showed no ill effects of the ankle the following week at SMU (10/16) as he pasted 186 yards and 3 TDs on the Mustangs in a win. Tied for D-IA lead with 12 rushing TDs.

DonTrell Moore, New Mexico (4JR) - Returned to form from knee injury with 29/110/0, but it wasn't enough to prevent a loss at Air Force on 10/9. Then he put up his first back-to-back 100 yard games of the season with 26/141/1 and 4/18/0 in a win at UNLV. Despite still displaying a limp at times in his injured left knee, he shows workhorse qualities in getting stronger as the game went on last week.

Eric Shelton, Louisville (4JR) - A bye week cost him the momentum he was building the last two games. He failed to impress against an elite opponent (Miami) in a prime time TV appearance on 10/14. He finished with 11/47/0, while 4SR Lionel Gates had a huge day. Shelton had 1 reception for one of the more spectacular 1 yard gains of the year. Grabbing a pass behind the line of scrimmage in the flat, he shook off immediate contact from a Miami defender and proceeded to cut backward across the field, displaying his good speed for a man his size, before cutting back through traffic to reach the line of scrimmage.

Wali Lundy, Virginia (3JR) - He had a decent 20/85/0 day in a win against Clemson, but was largely ineffective in the first half, helping keep the game close, and saw little time in the second half, as 4SR Alvin Pearman was on fire. Last Saturday at FSU, the Cavs were demolished 36-3 and the running game sputtered. On a day were Virginia netted just 20 yards on 29 carries, Lundy "led" them with 10 carries for 32 yards.

 



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