2014 NFL Draft Position Preview: Running Back

Carlos Hyde
Robert Mayer USA TODAY Sports

Gone are the Adrian Peterson-esque running backs. The NFL is now about multi-player backfields, with different backs bringing different skill-sets to the table, combining to give teams a multi-faceted threat in both the running and passing games.

It would not be a surprise if a running back didn’t come off the board in the first 15 picks, and perhaps only one — maybe two — will even go in the first round.

The 2014 NFL Draft crop of running backs is headlined by Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, who is widely considered the best pro prospect at the position. Hyde packs a powerful punch and has a nose for the end zone. He is also the most capable of being a workhorse for a team in need of improving its rushing attack. Some scouts consider him this year’s Eddie Lacy.

Behind Hyde there is a bit of a drop-off, and this is where the running backs will be selected based on what kind of talents they can bring to a backfield. The No. 2-rated back in the XN Sports rankings is Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona. The junior led the nation with 1,929 rushing yards two years ago, then averaged more than 157 yards per game in 2013. Though some chock up Carey’s productivity to the system he played in under coach Rich Rodriguez, it’s hard to argue against how consistent he was throughout his career in Tucson.

Coming in at No. 3 in the rankings is the Auburn standout Tre Mason who proved to be one of the most dynamic backs in the country last year. Mason had a knack for the big play, and did so on the biggest stages. He finished his college career with six consecutive 100-yard performances, including a 304-yard effort against Florida State’s highly touted defense in the BCS National Championship game. Mason is also a home-run threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

The rest of the top 10 features a handful of potential-laden prospects such as De’Anthony Thomas and Devonta Freeman. Thomas’ speed should entice NFL teams, perhaps as a special teams contributor or a weapon in a spread offense. Then there’s Devonta Freeman, who still managed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark despite a crowded ‘Noles backfield. Freeman plays a lot of Ray Rice and could be a complimentary back at his next stop.

XN Sports RB Rankings:

1. Carlos Hyde

2. Ka’Deem Carey

3. Tre Mason

4. Bishop Sankey

5. Jeremy Hill

6. De’Anthony Thomas

7. Lache Seastrunk

8. Devonta Freeman

9. Charles Sims

10. Andre Williams

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