Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Tony

Tony's Articles

2006 NFL RB Draft Class
Version 1.0

It’s never too soon to start thinking about future NFL stars. Here’s an early look at running back, classifying the top senior prospects and then talking about some of the underclassmen likely to declare.

Name - (School - Class as of 2005) Height Weight

Blue Chips
Cream of the crop heading into this college season. This group combines both NFL measurables and significant collegiate success that have them on the path to being the top RBs selected in the 2006 draft.

DeAngelo Williams (Memphis - 4SR) 5’10” 217
One of the most highly touted recruits in Memphis history has helped return the program to respectability. Widely expected to declare last year, he broke his right leg in the GMAC Bowl 12/22/04, putting his consideration of leaving early on hold. 2004 Awards: 3rd Team All-American, C-USA Co-Offensive POY and 1st Team All-Conference.

Saw just three plays in the Spring Game as a precaution, but his leg is fully healed and he enters the season as the top rated senior RB prospect. A classic triple threat, he rivals Reggie Bush as the most explosive and versatile offensive weapon in the nation. Williams led D-IA in all-purpose yardage in 2003 and was second in 2004, despite his return duties being cut back to keep him fresh. In addition to his individual accomplishments, the way he has carried the program since he’s been there contributes to the aura he exudes of being a “special” player. He is a bit undersized and ended the last two seasons injured after carrying record-breaking loads. It appears the Memphis staff may be exaggerating his weight a bit, as he would have put on almost 50 pounds between his listed 2003 and 2004 weight to be at the 217 he was reported at last season. Regardless, his accomplishments have him high on everyone’s list and scouts should continue to be impressed when they see this electric runner in games. At this point, only a couple underclassmen seem likely possibilities to unseat him as the first RB selected.

Looking to Rebound
Whether it was injuries or a down year that didn’t match potential and/or previous achievement, the stock for this group has dropped. However, the table is set for a comeback year in their final season of eligibility, and they could rise quickly up draft boards if they produce.

Wali Lundy (Virginia - 4SR) 5’10” 214
An outstanding multi-talented threat with a tremendous nose for the end zone, Lundy looks to bounce back from losing his starting job to Alvin Pearman, a future NFL fourth round pick, last year. One of the top D-IA all-purpose freshmen RBs in 2002, he had an immediate impact, leading the team in rushing and kickoff returns, as well as was second in receptions. Despite some injury problems in 2003, he took another step forward, falling just shy of 1,000 yards rushing and leading the conference with 14 TDs from scrimmage. He started as the feature back in 2004, but inconsistency and fumbling problems landed him in Al Groh’s doghouse and Alvin Pearman saw the majority of the work the rest of the way. He still finished with 17 TDs, leading the ACC again.

Last year’s problems appear behind him, as HC Al Groh has complemented the off-season Lundy has had and he was named a team captain. He looked in great shape at the Spring Game, but left early after turning his ankle, an injury which was not serious. He had 3 carries for 17 yards and 1 reception for 8 yards working in just the first offensive series. Lundy has the measurables and talent to be a first round pick, if he keeps his focus from now through the Combine. I’d consider him a Blue Chip if not for the need to bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2004.

DonTrell Moore (New Mexico - 5SR) 5’10” 208
After a third-straight 1,000 yard season, there was a chance the Emerald Bowl would be his last collegiate game, but a torn ACL in his left knee during that game meant a return to the Lobos. 2004 Awards: 1st Team Mountain West All-Conference.

He hopes to return in time for the beginning of the season, but it’s unlikely he’ll be fully recovered until the season is well underway. In addition to this major knee injury, he has a history of at least minor injuries every year of his career, although he’s always battled through them to have productive seasons. Another potential knock is he has had the benefit of running behind some huge offensive lines throughout his career. The late occurrence and severity of his latest injury jeopardizes his draft value as he’s unlikely to have as productive a season as he has in the past. He’ll likely be limited early and struggle to find his previous form. However, once GMs watch film from previous seasons and if his speed has returned by the Combine and in individual workouts, he’s likely to salvage some draft value displaying the potential to be a feature back at the next level. If he hadn’t been injured, he’d be a classified as a Blue Chip prospect at this point.

Patrick Cobbs (North Texas - 5SR) 5’9” 190
After leading D-IA in rushing in 2003, Cobbs looked to again be one of the most productive RBs in the nation and lead the Mean Green’s continued domination of the Sun Belt Conference. However, an early knee injury resulted in him missing the rest of the season and taking a redshirt.

His replacement, true freshman Jamario Thomas, filled in more than adequately. In an unexpected encore to Cobbs’ own out-of-nowhere emergence, Thomas amazingly ended up leading the nation in rushing for 2004. How to utilize the two is a nice problem for HC Darrell Dickey, but a bad one for the chances of Cobbs to increase his draft value. The two backs split carries in the Spring Game, with Thomas seeing 9 carries for only 16 yards and Cobbs producing 28 yards on his 8 carries. Undersized for a feature role at the next level, he brings tremendous quickness, big play speed, and surprising power for his size.

Best Potential, Limited Achievement
While this group has ideal measurables and/or flashed the skills that could make them Day One picks, unlike those looking to rebound, they haven’t shown significant and/or consistent production yet. Whether it's transferring, crowded backfield situations, injuries, one-year wonder concerns, or a combination, they have to fully capitalize on their potential this season to be an early pick.

Gerald Riggs Jr. (Tennessee - 4SR) 6’0” 220
One of the nation’s top RB recruits in 2002, a deep Vol backfield prevented him from fully showcasing his talents until last season.

On most teams, the starting RB being limited in the Spring Game (7-32-0) is not a concern, just a precaution. However, HC Phil Fulmer has been reluctant to fully turn over the reigns to Riggs previously and likes to rotate backs, so impressive redshirt freshmen Ja’Kouri Williams and Arian Foster could dip into his production. Still, Riggs seems on the verge of superstardom. He has ideal measurables and will receive plenty of recognition and accolades if he can build on last year. If not for the unpredictable situation under Fulmer and a light resume, he’d already be a Blue Chip prospect.

Mike Bell (Arizona - 5SR) 6’0” 218
Highly-recruited out of high school, Bell has had the misfortune of having his talents frequently wasted in a program in transition. Fell just short of rushing for over 1,000 yards the last two seasons, largely due to lack of supporting cast.

The second year of the Mike Stoops Era looks like it could finally mean improvement for the struggling program and more opportunity for Bell to showcase his talent. Bell started the year in fine fashion, rushing for 106 yards on 9 carries, including a 50-yard burst, as well as grabbing 2 passes for 14 yards in the Spring Game. Bell has ideal measurables and could have a tremendous breakout season. Even if the team continues to struggle, he should impress at the Senior Bowl, Combine, and in individual workouts. Definitely a guy to keep an eye on who could single-handedly significantly improve this RB class.

Damien Rhodes (Syracuse - 4SR) 6’0” 217
Ability to start in many programs in the country earlier, but he lived in Walter Reyes’ record-breaking shadow for three years. Showed a glimpse of what he can due while Reyes battled an injury-plagued final season, as Rhodes led the team in rushing and all-purpose yards last year. 2004 Awards: 2nd Team Big East All-Conference.

Off to a good start as the starter, Rhodes led the team in rushing with 43 yards on nine carries in the Spring Game. He’ll face the same lack of recognition playing in a mediocre program, but has better size than Reyes and will be in a RB class with less depth.

Andre Hall (South Florida - 4SR) 5’10” 205
Two-time JUCO All-American blew up in his first D-IA season, setting several single game and season rushing records for the Bulls last year. 2004 Awards: 1st Team C-USA All-Conference.

He was limited to 6 carries for 22 yards in the Spring Game to keep him healthy, but there is no question he will be the marquee offensive player. With ideal size and speed to be a feature back, if he can repeat last year’s performance, he’ll move quickly up draft boards throughout the season.

Selvin Young (Texas - 4SR) 6’0” 210
Limited to shining as a return man while in the shadow of Cedric Benson the last three years. Still recovering from broken ankle early last year.

After missing practice and the Spring Game, he remains in the mix to replace Cedric Benson, but may no longer be the favorite. Ramonce Taylor, who filled in nicely as RB2 after Young went down last year, leads a group of talented youngsters competing for the right to start in the Longhorn backfield. Nice measurables and speed, Young passes the eyeball test and seems to have the potential to emerge as the new feature back for a powerhouse program. However, all that means nothing until he proves it on the field. Looking like a boom or bust season for him, at this point, similar to David Underwood for Michigan last year.

Jerome Harrison (Washington State - 4SR) 5’9” 192
A highly-touted JUCO transfer in 2004, when Chris Bruhn went down, Harrison blew up. He rushed for 900 yards despite starting just five games. He had a record-breaking day at UCLA, but a lot of runners found success against them last season.

He picked up where he left off last season in the spring game, posting 9-90-2, including a 40-yard TD run. He has true game-breaking speed, but is undersized.

Best Achievement, Questionable Potential
This group is those who lack ideal measurables: too small and/or too slow, by the perceived NFL standard. Despite their tremendous collegiate success, many teams may see them as limited to situational roles, lowering their draft value.

Chris Barclay (Wake Forest - 4SR) 5’9” 180
One of the most underrated RBs in the country, he has posted back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and is on his way to being the school’s all-time leading rusher.

Just 14 yards on 7 carries in a final spring scrimmage dominated by the defense, but also had a 13-yard TD catch. Lacks ideal size, so his job has never been secure until this year, despite increasing accomplishment his first two years. Adds versatility with good hands and return ability. Consistency and durability will get him recognized by scouts, but it will take a huge year and/or tremendous workout numbers for him to really rise up draft boards.

P.J. Daniels (Georgia Tech - 5SR) 5’10” 210
Former walk-on exploded in 2003, leading the ACC with one of the best seasons rushing the football in school and conference history. Struggled through injury-plagued 2004, where he missed four games and parts of two others with a variety of leg problems, but still led the team in rushing.

Saw just two carries for 18 yards in the Spring Game, but Daniels is still the clear number one back. If he can stay healthy, he should produce another outstanding season, but he will be pushed by a talented stable of back-ups. He lacks top speed, so regardless of the type of season he produces, his value could be hurt at the Combine and in individual workouts.

P.J. Pope (Bowling Green - 4SR) 5’9” 216
Tremendously productive bowling ball has rolled through back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons for the first time in school history. 2004 Awards: 2nd Team MAC All-Conference.

Started his final year in mid-season form, rushing for 108 yards on 11 carries, including a 43-yard TD run, in the Spring Game. He will benefit from the hype Omar Jacobs will deservedly receive this year, but Pope lacks ideal measurables, short and without great speed, as well as having occasional fumble problems.

The RBBC’ers and Back-Ups
This group has the physical attributes and potential to succeed at the next level, but don’t stand out or get as much recognition because of a RBBC or being stuck behind a more prominent runner. They are an injury away from huge seasons that could shoot them up draft boards.

Leon Washington (Florida State - 4SR) 5’9” 202
Outstanding all-purpose back in a year with an abundance of them. Undersized dynamo was more productive than Lorenzo Booker in less carries last season. Value is helped by return skills, although he saw less time returning kicks and punts as his running workload increased in last year. 2004 Awards: 2nd Team ACC All-Conference.

Limited to just 5 carries for –1 yard in the Spring Game, as the Seminoles outstanding defense dominated the offense (only one offensive TD allowed in scrimmages all spring). Both he and Booker should again split carries, but this duo is no Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams.

Joseph Addai (LSU - 5SR) 6’0” 205
All-purpose back is underappreciated in one of the deepest backfields in the country. After looking like he had the starting job in 2003, a knee injury allowed Justin Vincent to step in and take over. Alley Broussard led the way most of 2004, but Addai was a significant contributor, especially on third downs.

He had a big Spring Game, leading all runners with 80 yards on 7 carries, including breaking a 52-yarder. With Les Miles replacing Nick Saban as HC, there could be a changing of the guard, with the more versatile Addai seeing more work. Most likely, it will continue to be a RBBC, especially if Justin Vincent returns to form. Addai has tremendous potential to contribute immediately at the next level because he is an excellent receiver and polished blocker who can pick up the blitz. His hands and route running are strong enough that he has worked at wide receiver, at times, due to the crowded RB situation.

Seymore Shaw (Oklahoma State - 5SR) 5’11” 215
Once looked the heir to Tatum Bell’s starting spot, an untimely injury last year cost him a shot and he was passed by Vernand Morency, who went on to have a breakout 2004.

Shaw’s path to starter is no longer blocked by Bell and Morency, but he’ll face competition from a variety of young options in a crowded backfield, as well as himself. He’s off to a bad start, as a knee injury has limited him this spring and he’s fallen to fifth on the depth chart. Off-field troubles also surfaced for the first time since his freshman year, when he arrived with an arrest in high school for striking a girl and was only a partial qualifier due to academics. Now another female acquaintance had a protective order slapped on him in late May stating she felt threatened by him and he was stalking her. He also was accused of involvement in some theft. This came up as new Cowboy HC Mike Gundy had just dismissed several players for behavioral problems. However, after no action at first, but once charges were made, he was suspended indefinitely in June, pending outcome of the charges. Oklahoma State has produced many excellent NFL prospects in the backfield and should continue to feature the running game under Gundy. So, if Shaw can assume the feature role, I expect him to be productive and the association will help his exposure. Similar situation to Kay-Jay Harris last year, very good measurables, but limited resume and durability questions.

Cedric Humes (VaTech - 5SR) 6’1” 231
About a year ago, it was looking like the Humes was ready to inherit Kevin Jones’ feature role and showcase his nice size/speed package. Then he broke his left fibula and, although he was healthy by the time the season started, Mike Imoh forced his way into the picture after being suspended for the first three games of the season.

With Imoh nursing a sore ankle, Humes shined in the Spring Game, leading all rushers with 5-44-0. However, Imoh remains listed as the starter and it should be another year of RBBC. Highly-regarded redshirt freshman George Bell will also be in the picture. While he lacks Imoh’s breakaway speed, Humes has the body to take the every down pounding and projects as the better prospect at the next level. If Imoh is hurt or runs into more legal trouble, Humes could have a breakout season on be on draft boards in 2006.

De’Arrius Howard (Arkansas - 5SR) 6’0” 228
Top returning rusher waited has been unable to capitalize on potential. Sat behind Fred Talley, failed to overtake inconsistent Cedric Cobbs, and was leap-frogged by DeCori Birmingham when it looked like he would finally get his chance last year.

A pounding runner with excellent size who is very effective in short yardage/goal line, Howard will face more challenges this year in a crowded backfield, particularly from super soph tweener Peyton Hillis. Howard remains listed with Hillis atop the depth chart despite missing spring after off-season shoulder surgery. He has a lot to prove this year, but he has the size and power to get noticed quickly.

All have at least a year of eligibility left, but have the talent and/or situation making them the most likely to declare early for next April’s draft. The strength of this class is highly dependent on the underclassmen, as Reggie Bush and Laurence Maroney could be the first two RBs selected if they declare early.

Reggie Bush (USC - 3JR) 5’11” 200
Impact player in all facets of the game since he set foot on the field as a true freshman. Arguably the most electrifying all-purpose back in the game. 2004 Awards: PAC-10 Co-Offensive POY and 1st Team All-Conference.

Apparently grew two inches and put on ten pounds in the off-season, but he doesn’t need help of inflated measurables in the media guide with the skills he has. Minor shoulder surgery and a jammed toe prevented him from participating in the Spring Game, but he will be fine when the season starts. A Heisman favorite with two (one undisputed) National Championships and multiple individual accolades, there isn’t much for him left to accomplish in college. It’s hard to imagine him not coming out as soon as he’s eligible.

Laurence Maroney (Minnesota - 3JR) 5’11” 205
He has been a superstar since his freshman season. Combined with former teammate, and fourth round draft pick, Marion Barber III to be the only duo in NCAA history to run for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. 2004 Awards: 1st Team Big Ten All-Conference.

In the Spring Game, Maroney saw time on only one trick play, as he rested a sore knee. He combines good size with incredible moves and game-breaking speed. If he sticks around, he could own most Minnesota, and some Big Ten, rushing records, but he looks like a lock to be a first round pick in 2006.

Michael Bush (Louisville - 3JR) 6’3” 250
Outstanding all-around football talent has been a “Slash” since he was a high school legend on both sides of the ball in Kentucky. Now appears to have found a home at RB last year, as he was tremendously productive as a back-up.

This is a classic example of a guy in the right place at the right time. The program is peaking at the same time the departure of Lionel Gates and Eric Shelton gives this great talent the opportunity to shine. On the other side, the success of Bobby Petrino and the team resulted in the pipeline feeding the backfield a plethora of talented recruits that will give Bush incentive to declare early if his value explodes with a big season. Started out in mid-season form, leading the team in rushing in the Spring Game with 19-92-1.

LenDale White (USC - 3JR) 6’2” 235
Thunder to Bush’s lightning is technically the starting halfback. Sometimes lost among the galaxy of stars on the Trojans, he’d be the superstar of any other team in the country, as all he’s done in his first two seasons is rush for almost 2,000 yards and score 31 total TDs.

Surgery to remove torn cartilage in his left ankle and academic issues kept him out of the Spring Game. The ankle will be fine in time for the season, but he needs to hit the books to ensure he has no eligibility problems. Failure to qualify academically would likely accelerate his decision to move to the NFL. While White is recognized for his pounding style, he has the speed to get the corner. It’s unlikely the two will both be top five picks (maybe if they stayed until the 2007 draft), but the situation isn’t unlike Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown this past draft. If they both declare early, USC could have two RBs both go in the first round.

Lorenzo Booker (Florida State - 4JR) 5’11” 195
College fans are still waiting for the promise he had as one of the top prospects in the country and celebrated committment in 2002. Leon Washington was more productive with less carries last season.

Marginally more successful than Washington in the Spring Game, as “successful” as 4 carries for 5 yards can be considered. However, he did score the only TD of the spring the Seminoles outstanding first-team defense allowed in scrimmages. While not as impressive as expected thus far, Booker doesn’t deserve all the blame for not emerging as a superstar yet. Inconsistency at QB and questionable play calling that resulted in multiple changes in the coaching staff contributed significantly. It’s very possible he puts it all together this year, but it will likely take an injury to Leon Washington for him to be productive enough to make it worth declaring early.

Tyrone Moss (Miami - 3JR) 5’10” 221
Expected to be the next superstar RB at Miami, Moss has waited his turn, and it should be here this year. He has been a productive, yet unspectacular, back-up and spot starter behind Jarrett Payton and Frank Gore the last two years.

Missed practice and the Spring Game while rehabilitating his shoulder after off-season surgery, but is still the favorite to be the starter on a Hurricane team that is looking to return to dominance after falling short of their normal National Champion contender expectations the last two years. If they do return to form on the national stage, and Moss is a big part of it, he’ll have the exposure to rise up draft boards and the potential of talented youth behind him will help push him out the door. However, he so far hasn’t had the aura of being a “special” runner. Granted, his opportunities were limited, but that’s exactly what is relatively unimpressive. Passing a mediocre Payton or crippled Gore and assuming the feature role should have been possible if he truly had displayed elite talent to HC Larry Coker the last two years.

Maurice Drew (UCLA - 3JR) 5’8” 198
Lightning to former teammate and future NFL draft choice Manuel White’s thunder, Drew was an all-purpose terror all year. 2004 Awards: 2nd Team PAC-10 All-Conference.

Posted 9-57-1 in Spring Game. Another tremendous multi-talented player whose tremendous speed and quickness lead to big plays on offense and special teams. Although undersized, he packs a lot of strength, filling out his frame well and brining excellent leg drive. While White has moved on to the NFL, the Bruins still have talented depth in the backfield. He is also overshadowed in his own conference by Reggie Bush. It is unlikely Drew will declare early, unless many of the other names above don’t, leaving the 2006 RB class is thin and giving Drew more value.

Jason Colson (WVU - 4JR) 6’1” 220
As has been the trend in Morgantown lately, he’s had to wait his turn behind future NFL talent at RB. He flashed potential when injuries to Kay-Jay Harris gave him the opportunity, forcing his way into the picture when Harris was healthy. However, Colson had some injury problems of his own, which let Pernell Williams into the picture, as well. He is the leading returning rusher, finishing third last year behind Harris and QB Rasheed Marshall.

Enters season as the tentative starter in what will be a wide open RBBC. In addition to the impressive young Williams, Erick Phillips has returned strong from injury, JUCO transfer Arlen Dorsey is in the picture, and the Mountaineers bring in an excellent recruiting class of RBs. If Colson can somehow emerge as a top producer in the mix with significant numbers, he has all the incentive in the world to jump while his value is high. His versatility will help him this season, as he’s been working at splitting out as wide receiver, a weakness on the team, in some sets, allowing HC Rich Rodriguez to have more of his tremendous backfield options on the field at the same time. Success splitting out will only enhance his draft value. Not an elite prospect, but the recent success of Mountaineer RBs will have scouts watching a prospect with ideal measurables and a good pair of hands.

Demetris Summers (3JR - formerly South Carolina) 6’1” 200
One of the top RB recruits in the country, he burst on the scene as a true freshman in 2003. Finished leading the team in rushing and was on SEC All-Freshman team with what appeared to be a bright future. Once again led the team in rushing in 2004, but failed to improve through an injury-plagued season. Kicked off the team by new HC Steve Spurrier in March after a second failed drug test. Poor grades made transferring options a problem.

Summers has hired trainer Emery Williams and plans to work out all year to prepare for the 2006 draft. Williams worked with another former Gamecock bad boy RB, Derek Watson, who has impressed Tampa Bay this spring as an undrafted free agent. While he was impressive his freshman year, he was no Maurice Clarett, and his play declined last year. If he impresses in workouts, he may get some notice, but at this point, with the baggage he brings, he isn’t even on the radar.