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2009 NFL RB Draft Class
Version 2.0 - Combine Primer

Blue Chips | Boderline Day 1 | Early Day 2
Mid-To-Late Round |
End Game | Best Of The Rest

End Game

Key: Name (School - Class) Height Weight

This group has the upside that indicates they should be drafted, but they have concerns in one or more areas regarding measurables, accomplishments, durability, or character. They also face getting caught in a numbers game – only so many RBs get drafted. If they aren’t Day Two fliers, they should get a chance as a priority undrafted free agent.

Anthony “Bernard” Scott (Abilene Christian – 5SR) 5’10” 199
Combine Invite: Yes
Scott did not play football his senior season of HS after being suspended for a fight and, despite his talent, has had problems staying out of trouble since. He attended DII Southeastern Oklahoma State and took a redshirt in 2003, but never played a down when he transferred to the (then) DII University of Central Arkansas in 2004. He rushed for over 1K and double-digit TDs on his way to Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year. In 2005, he was kicked off the team for allegedly hitting a coach during a fight on the field. He fell off the grid for a year before trying to rebuild his career the JUCO route and heading to Blinn College in 2006. Scott was the NJCAA rushing champion and first-team All-American as he helped lead the Buccaneers to a National Championship. Despite having a theft charge during the year, he was recruited by a number of major FBS programs. However, he was academically ineligible, so he transferred to DII Abilene Christian to be reunited with HC Chris Thomsen and OC Ken Collums, who were the OLine and OC, respectively, at Central Arkansas while Scott was there. Scott flourished under them at ACU, rushing for over 2,000 yards en route to breaking the Lone Star Conference’s single-season rushing record and setting a DII total TD record with 39, while finishing second in the voting for the Harlon Hill Award – the Heisman Trophy of DII football. He was also a second-team AP Little All-American in 2007.

Of course the year wasn’t without more legal troubles, he was arrested in the spring for giving false information during a traffic stop and received an 18-month probation sentence. In the summer of 2008, he was arrested for trying to flee the police and is awaiting trial for that case. He was still on the field for ACU in the fall, on the same team for two consecutive seasons for the first time since HS. In 2008, Scott finished second in DII in rushing, putting up another 2K season, and first in total TDs on his way to winning the Harlon Hill Trophy and a first-team AP Little All-America nod. Scott was invited to the Cactus Bowl, the DII all-star game, but declined in hopes of getting a Senior Bowl invite. When that didn’t come through, he accepted an invite to play in the Texas vs. The Nation game and was one of the stars of the week. After an impressive week of practice, he had game highs of 12 carries and 62 yards rushing on the Texas squad.

Scott has found success, and trouble, at every stop of his collegiate career. While he has dominated competition, it has been lower-level competition. However, he showed a glimpse of his agility, vision, and burst translating against some third-tier all-star competition and will get a chance to measure up against all the elite prospects at the Combine, where his speed and agility is expected to impress. Most recent interviews describe Scott as a quiet and humble person despite his great success last year, but even if he has matured, he has a history of disregarding the “student” part of “student-athlete”, problems with authority, some anger management issues, and a rap sheet including four known arrests, with one less than a year ago that is still pending in court. A text book high-risk, high-reward player, I’d be surprised if a team spends more than a late round pick on him even if he blows up at the Combine.

Kahlil Bell (UCLA – 4SR) 6’0” 219
Combine Invite: Yes
Bell saw limited work as a true freshman in 2005, until the final game of the season. With Maurice Jones-Drew limited by a shoulder injury, Bell and sophomore Chris Markey stepped up in the win over Northwestern. Bell rushed 19 times for 136 yards and a pair of short TDs. The duo were “co-starters” to start 2006, but Bell’s performance was uneven. In the seventh game of the season, a loss at ND on 10/21/06, Bell suffered a high ankle sprain on his left foot and wouldn’t play the rest of the season. He was healthy enough play in time for their upset of USC in the regular season finale, but was suspended for the game and their Emerald Bowl loss to FSU. Bell reportedly got in to a fight with Markey that caused the suspension for the final month. As bad as the prior season ended, 2007 couldn’t have started any better for Bell. He and Market split carries again as they opened the season at Stanford, but Bell was the star. Bell rushed for a career-high 195 yards on 19 carries to help the Bruins take down the Cardinal. Bell outperformed Markey again in a win over BYU and loss at Utah. In the fourth game of the season, Bell took over as the nominal starter.

Over the next five games he started, he would break 100 yards twice, but also lost some costly fumbles. He ran for a 50-yard TD on his third carry at Washington State on 10/27/08, then tore his right ACL on the fourth carry and was done for the season. He held off Markey, who was moving on after graduating, to lead the team with a career-high 795 yards rushing on the season, despite having less carries than Markey. Bell pushed his rehab to return in time for the 2008 season and started the season-opening victory over Tennessee. However, he suffered another high ankle sprain on the left foot in the first quarter and would sit out the rest of the game, as well as the next two. Bell would return to the starting role, but the ankle would linger, the OLine was dinged, and the Bruins had one of the worst offenses in FBS. Bell finished the season as the leading rusher, with 141 carries for 397 yards (2.8 ypc) and seven TDs. Bell was invited to the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game, but declined to participate.

Bell has good size, but a thin frame that needs more bulk. He is built more like a WR and has flashed some skills as a receiver, like getting up for the jump ball to score the Bruins’ only TD on a 21-yard reception for the only score against USC in his final game, but wasn’t used much in the passing game. Bell runs with authority and likes contact, packing a powerful stiff arm, but also runs tall and inefficiently. A big target with a lot of flapping arms and high knees that will get him blown up at the next and the ball knocked out. Confidence has never been a problem for Bell, but he takes his swagger to the point of cocky arrogance and has been a derisive force in the locker room. At least two significant fights with teammates, both with fellow RBs and one resulting in suspension, have come out in public. Durability has been poor, with significant injuries each of the last three year, including recurring left ankle problems. Between injuries and suspensions, he has missed 13 games and parts of others in the last three years. His size and the potential he has sporadically flashed were apparently good enough for NFL teams, as he was a surprise invite to the Combine. He hasn’t shown elite speed on the field, but if he has trained well enough to put up some good numbers in Indy, he could be a late round flyer.

Tarrion Adams (Tulsa – 5SR) 6’1” 204
Combine Invite: No
Coming off his breakout season in 2007, Adams started 2008 with 63 yards and two short TDs in a season-opening win at UAB. He left in the third quarter with cramps in his leg and did not return. Adams had 11-46-0 and 12-57-0 in easy wins at North Texas and over New Mexico where the ball was spread around. He added six receptions for 57 yards between the two games. Adams strung together four straight games over 100 yards, average in 18 carries and 117 yards in the four wins. His work was limited over the next three games, not seeing more than 12 carries in any game, as the Golden Hurricane dropped their first two games of the season at Arkansas and at Houston. Adams and Tulsa bounced back against Tulane, where he ran for a career-high 323 yards on a season-high 33 carries. He followed that up 123 yards and three short TDs on the ground in a win at Marshall and 120 yards and two TDs in a loss to East Carolina in the Conference USA Title game. He finished the season setting the school’s career and single-season rushing records with 207 yards as Tulsa rolled over Ball State in the GMAC Bowl. Adams ran for three TDs, including season-long 56 yarder. Adams was tenth in career rushing yards in FBS at the end of the season, almost all of it in the last two seasons. He was recognized with first-team All-Conference USA honors. Adams was invited to the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game and an uninspired week of practice was followed with an unspectacular game performance. He had 22 yards on five carries, most of it on a 16-yard run, for the Texas squad.

After redshirting his first season and then seeing limited touches the next two years, the perfect storm of opportunity came in 2007. OC Gus Malzahn arrived from Arkansas and RB Courtney Tennial went down for the year before the season started. Adams benefit from playing in one of the most prolific offenses in the nation the last two years under Malzahn. Typically it is a QB who suffers from the “system” label, but the lack of respect for Adams’ accomplishments indicates he is viewed with the same negative assumption, along with the relative comparison of his production coming mostly against mid-majors. Adams is built more like a WR than a RB, and could eventually see a position change at the next level due to his skills as a receiver. He has excellent hands and has worked hard to improve his route running, as well being solid in pass protection. The biggest negative is his lack of speed. He has good agility, but lacks burst or acceleration. He’ll need to add some bulk to his lanky frame to handle the pounding at the next level. Despite being ignored by the Combine, what Adams has done on the field has propelled his stock to where someone will look at him as a late round or priority UDFA addition.

Branden Ore (West Liberty State – 5SR) 5’11” 209
Combine Invite: Yes
His four-year odyssey at Virginia Tech featured an alternating pattern of highs and lows. After flashing promising potential as redshirt freshman in 2005, shoulder surgery started an off-season downward spiral of academic and dedication problems that led to a semester off, which beget a rebirth with rushing for 1K and first-team All-ACC honors, that led to resting on his laurels and a relatively disappointing 2007 that ended with a disciplinary suspension for the Orange Bowl and dismissal from the team shortly after, amid his name being associated in the drug-related arrest of a friend two years earlier and flirtation with the NFL. With a redshirt season of eligibility left, Ore wisely chose not to declare for the NFL draft a year ago while his stock was in a free fall. Instead, he transferred to D-II West Liberty State in West Virginia to play with his cousin, Darren Banks, a D-II All-American DB and pro prospect, on the Hilltoppers. His 2008 season was all he could hope for in rehabilitating his draft stock on the field. Ore was the feature back and led the team with 1,257 yards and a school-record 20 rushing TDs. He also caught 30 passes for another 314 yards. Ore was recognized on the first-team All-WVIAC and has the anomalous career honor of being the only person to lead the ACC and WVIAC in scoring. Equally as important, he played in every game and kept out of the headlines off the field. Ore was invited to play for The Nation team in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Game. He reportedly looked good in practice, but was injured prior to the game and, in true Branden Ore fashion, just checked out.

Ore has excellent lateral movement and agility, a solid cutback runner with good vision. However, he can dance behind the line too much and runs very upright through the hole. He breaks tackles well with a solid stiff arm and great leg drive, although he’ll need to bulk up to succeed doing it at the next level. Otherwise, he has the ideal size and frame to be a feature back. While he occasionally breaks off a long run, he does not appear to have breakaway speed. Soft hands compliment his running skills, he is a decent receiver and has seen limited work as a kick returner. There is no question he has potential NFL talent, but his durability has been a problem and no player has bigger questions about his desire and dedication in this RB class. VaTech RB coach Billy Hite, who went to extraordinary lengths to try and keep Ore on track, properly summed it up when he commented, "He's not a bad kid…just a guy that continuously made the same mistakes over and over and over again." Despite a positive end to his collegiate career, the bottom line is Ore has squandered his excellent potential repeatedly and gives a team no reason to have confidence his dedication to football will last. His invite to the Combine was an injustice to many overlooked players with perhaps less natural ability, but better overall potential to make it in the NFL and who have shown the dedication to that goal. Regardless of how he performs in Indy, as I mentioned in my preseason preview, even if he has an outstanding season at a small college, which he did, Ore will likely be an UDFA. Sigmund Bloom from made an interesting comparison in evoking the name of Gary Russell. If Ore find his way to ever carrying a ball in an NFL game, it would be via a similar circuitous path that the former Minnesota Gopher took.

Keegan Herring (Arizona State – 4SR) 5’9” 192
Combine Invite: No
The Sun Devils’ backfield was in disarray when Herring joined the team in 2005. The RB depth chart was shaken up when Hakim Hill and Loren Wade were dismissed. Herring rose through a crowd of contingency plans and despite starting just two games, broke the team’s freshman rushing record and led the team with 870 yards rushing. A sophomore slump struck in 2006 as injuries, including a hamstring pull, limited his effectiveness. Herring lost his starting role after four games to JUCO-transfer Ryan Torain. Torain would start the remaining eight games, rushing for over 1,200 yards, while Herring would finish with just 94 carries for 549 yards. Torain remained the starter in 2007, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury halfway through the season. Herring took advantage of the opportunity and played well while starting the next five games before suffering an ankle sprain in the regular season finale. He didn’t start in their Holiday Bowl loss and was limited to two carries.

Herring dealt with an incomprehensible series of tragedies in 2007, including the shooting deaths of his best friend and father three days apart in February, then the loss of his sister in a car accident in June and death of his aunt by a heart attack three days later. Herring entered 2008 as the top returning rusher in the PAC-10, but failed to separate himself from 3JR Dmitri Nance and 4JR Shaun Dewitty in the off-season. A hamstring injury kept him out of the season opener and although he contributed 59 yards and a TD in a victory over Stanford the second game of the year, he would miss the next two after aggravating the injury. After a bye week, he returned in a loss at California and would play in the rest of the games, including getting two starts, but rushed for more than 40 yards just once. The highlight of his year was season highs in carries (22) and rushing yards (144), including an exciting 29-yard TD run in a win at Washington on 11/8/08. However, he didn’t even total 100 yard over the final three games following that. Herring and Nance finished the season with almost identical stats, both rushing for just over 400 yards and three TDs on 105 carries each. It was the worst production of Herring’s career.

It is hard not to root for Herring because you will be hard pressed to find anyone with an unkind word to say about his character. While he has some skills, notably speed, he has failed to translate that in to consistent success on the football field. Herring’s best attribute is his explosive speed. A former track star, he is gone if he finds a crack of daylight. Last year he had three scoring runs of 70 yards or more. He had at least one run of 65 yards each of his first three years and has averaged 5.5 ypc during that span before a disappointing 3.9 ypc and long run of 29 yards in 2008. Perhaps the hamstring lingered most of the season, but Herring clearly was a different player in his pivotal final season. He has completely fallen off the NFL radar, not getting a sniff from an all-star game and ignored by the Combine, which occasionally overlooks a poor final season when there is some potential and history of success in a major conference. His resume lacks experience in the passing game or as a returner, which doesn’t help the draft value of guy who would be slotted as a change of pace back. While the three games he missed in 2008 were the first of his career, Herring has frequently been limited by an assortment of nicks or dings, so his durability was already a concern. Herring has the one thing you can’t teach, speed, so he could work his way back on the radar with an outstanding Pro Day.

Tyrell Fenroy (Louisiana-Lafayette – 4SR) 5’9” 196
Combine Invite: No
With some school and conference records already under his belt, Fenroy began 2008 with several more within sight and went on to have the best season of his career. He had single-season highs across the board with 226 attempts, 1,375 rushing yards, 19 TDs, 24 receptions, and 259 receiving yards. Highlighting the season was a school and conference record 297 rushing yards in a win at Louisiana-Monroe on 10/4/08. It was the only 200-yard game of his career, but he rushed for 100 yards in 22 of his 46 career games. Fenroy missed only one game in four years, skipping a game at Central Florida his junior year due to an ankle sprain. With yet another 1K rushing season, Fenroy joined Tony Dorsett (Pitt), Amos Lawrence (UNC), Denvis Manns (New Mexico St.), Ron Dayne (Wisconsin), Avon Cobourne (WVU) Cedric Benson (Texas), and DonTrell Moore (New Mexico) as the eighth player in FBS/D-IA history to run for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. He finished his final season as the active leading rusher in FBS with 4,646 yards – the most in school, conference, and state history. His 48 rushing TDs are also a school and conference record. His #32 jersey was retired before his final game, a home win over Middle Tennessee State.

He wasn’t the only ground show in town, as QB Michael Desmormeaux also rushed for 1,000 yards for the second season. The dynamic duo joined WVU’s Pat White and Steve Slaton as the only other QB-RB tandem in FBS/D-IA history to do the same. The team finished 6-6 with a 5-2 conference record. Despite a bowl-eligible six wins, the Raqin’ Cajuns missed their first chance to go to a bowl in 38 years when they were one of four teams snubbed by the bowls. Fenroy was recognized as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. He has inexplicably ignored by the all-star games, not yet getting an invite.

The quiet and confident Rajun’ Cajun has been extremely productive workhorse in college, but lacks the measurables to project well as more than a third RB at the next level. He is a darting back with more quickness than straight-line speed, but his quickness is remarkable. He isn’t involved much in the passing game, although saw some more work there in his last season, and has not worked as a returner, which hurt his value as a potential change of pace back, but he does have decent hands. He added some bulk prior to the season (although not as much as the old-school neck roll he sports make it look), but is probably still under the 200 pounds he is listed at. He is undersized, but not so extreme that he should be ignored as much as he has by the media. A disappointing, but not surprising, snub for an invitation to any of the all-star games and the Combine. He’ll have to wait until ULL’s Pro Day in mid-March to leave a final impression. One of the best kept secret at RB in this draft, don’t be surprised or disappointed if your team selects him late on Day Two.

Best Of The Rest