The 2015 NFL Draft boasts a significant number of potential "impact players" at the running back position, a position of need for the Arizona Cardinals. When you look at how the running backs break down and what exactly the Cardinals need, those two things will not line up with one another, at least on my board.
How do I rank the running backs? Here are my top 10, plus five more I like.
1. Duke Johnson, Miami
My love of Duke is no surprise, he's a similar player to CJ Spiller, whom I loved coming out of Clemson.
Duke can be overlooked because he does a lot of work in the open field, but he's a strong inside runner when he doesn't try and bounce outside. This is the simple thing that will be extremely hard for him to stop doing at the next level, but everything else Duke brings to the game, is special to me.
2. Todd Gurley, Georgia
Gurley falls one spot simply because I have not, nor has anyone else, seen him play post injury. While many will say, "I can't grade an injury," but you have to take it into consideration in your evaluation or else you will miss a lot.
Gurley has the chance to be a special back, his combination of power, vision, and game-changing speed is generational. Maybe I'm dumb for being worried about his health, but that's me.
3. Jay Ajayi, Boise St
Many have begun to fall in line that Ajayi is just another back in this class, but to me, he has the ability to be something special. Ajayi runs with a balance that many backs do not possess, which makes him unique.
He runs violently in space, but he isn't a power back, where he doesn't get the leg drive you'd like, but the tools are there.
4. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
While many will want Gordon early, I am of the belief that a back like Gordon can be found in most drafts. His work behind the line of scrimmage is concerning, where he seems to predetermine his moves and cutbacks, instead of letting the action dictate.
When Gordon is at the line of scrimmage or past it, he's very good and could be a bell cow running back.
5. Mike Davis, South Carolina
Davis is a bulk carry, grind it out, and hammer you late kind of back. Built like a bowling ball, Davis just needs a team willing to feed him enough to get him going.
6. Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Much like Duke Johnson, Ameer runs bigger than he weighs, and his ability to maneuver through traffic, avoid punishment, and maintain his balance is what makes him unique.
He won't be a guy you want in a lot of short yardage situations, but he has more than enough juice in his runs to be an every down back.
7. Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Speed, aggression and the ability to hit a home run every time he touches the ball, Coleman is a special back in that sense. Where struggles could appear is when he's asked to keep the offense on schedule, because too often Coleman is running to something that isn't there, instead of taking what is.
8. David Cobb, Minnesota
Maybe the most boring back in this class, Cobb is another grinder, who's going to wear down defenses throughout the game. He doesn't possess the wow runs of many others in this class, but he'll be a back that can keep you on schedule in your offense, and someone you can trust in all phases of the game.
9. Malcolm Brown, Texas
One of the most highly recruited prep football players, Brown never manufactured the career people expected out of him, but that doesn't mean he lacks ability. He's a big, powerful runner with good feet and a burst that you don't expect from a man his size.
10 T.J Yeldon, Alabama
Yeldon is a power back that doesn't run as powerfully as you'd like, but he is effective in between the tackles. His dominant trait is his ability to keep his feet moving in trash and avoid contact. His style reminds me of Rashard Mendenhall.
Buck Allen, USC
Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
Matt Jones, Florida
Karlos Williams, Florida State
David Johnson, Northern Iowa