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 Nothing brings fantasy football and actual football together for fans like me more than the Running Backs in a given draft. Thier collective life span is so short, yet so impactful. Rookies routinely start from day 1 and make a huge splash. This year’s crop is very interesting and deep with at least situational runners. I think the top 4 or 5 (not totally sold on Leshoure) can be stars in the NFL. Individual commentary after the list.

* = added value as kick/punt returner; also noted those coming off season shortning injuries.

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama

2. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech

3. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma St

4. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma

5. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois

6. Jordan Todman, UConn

7. Daniel Thomas (inj), Kansas St

8. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh

9. Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington

10. Noel Devine* (inj), West Virginia

11. Jamie Harper, Clemson

12. Bilal Powell (inj), Louisville

13. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon St

14. Shane Vareen*, California

15. Derrick Locke, Kentucky

16. Delone Carter, Syracuse

17. Da’Rel Scott , Maryland

18. Roy Helu Jr,  Nebraska

19. Graig Cooper*, Miami

20. Stevan Ridley, LSU

21. Alex Green, Hawaii

22. Mario Fannin, Auburn

23. Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech

24. Allen Bradford, USC

25. Evan Royster, Penn St

26. John Clay, Wisconsin

Ingram (son of former WR Maaaaark Ingram – man, I feel old) is “safest” pick in the class. Excellent vision, balance, power and smarts. Lacks top speed and remains to be seen if he can block effectively. Outstanding the last 2 years against top defenses. Williams was absoultely unstoppable in 2009 as a freshman – only nagging injuries slowed him down last year. I see a young Clinton Portis in him and fantasy superstardom immediately. Another in that immediate impace category is Kendall Hunter. Doesn’t look like he can carry the load (like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice), but is a punishing runner with an aresenal of moves. He is a 3 down back who can start day 1. I have Demarco Murray higher than most because he has smitten me with his crazy athleticism and ability to embarass defenders. Also an outstanding receiver. Only knock on him is his tendency to “run high” so his entire 6 ft tall frame is exposed to big hits. He does need to adjust this to last as a pro, but we may get 2 or 3 jaw dropping years regardless; reminds me a little of Reggie Bush.  Mikel Leshoure looks the part, and I saw him play several times last year, but something is just missing keeping him from greatness. He is big and strong and has good speed for his size, but won’t run away from pro defenders and doesn’t have a lot of moves to be a top inside runner. And most importantly, IMO, goes down way too easily for his frame.  Not sure why Dion Lewis is not considered a top 10 back by “those in the know” – because he is short? Had a monster career and looks like everything you would want? Twaiwan Jones dominated 2nd level competition and will be a top NFL runner if his game translates. Noel Devine looks like a kid out there, but has amazing strength and has great escapability. My gut tells me if I’m underselling anyone it’s Jamie Harper. He’s NFL ready and is the prototype physically – will he get the opportunity? Jacquizz Rodgers was a brilliant college RB but at such a small size you have to have speed to make up for it, and I don’t think he has it. Scott and Helu I think will be drafted WAY too high because of their great testing numbers. But their “game tapes” are not that impressive. Mario Fannin as all the talent in the world be he commits the 2 unforgivable RB sins, fumbles and gets hurt often.  I felt compelled to include John Clay because of the tremendous start to his career, but basically he’s fat and slow and I doubt he gets drafted and will probably not be on an NFL roster in 2 years.