The Buccaneers need to revamp the running back position and the draft is the best way to do so. The team currently sits with three rostered backs in Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers and Dalton Crossan. Rodgers is 28 years old and coming off a below average season that saw him total 3.8 yards a carry on 64 attempts in 16 games of action. Rodgers is not a full time back and this past season didn’t look the part for a change of pace back either. Peyton Barber on the other hand is about to be 24 years old and capped his season off with 335 yards rushing the final 5 weeks for a 4.29 yards per carry. Barber looks to be a decent number two option but alas, does not show the dynamic ability to turn the corner and break a big gain, nor does he appear to be an open field threat in the passing game. Crossan was a college free agent, originally signed by the Colts before the Bucs picked him up, at the moment he is simply a camp body with no real threat to challenge for a roster spot.
This leads us to the draft and the onslaught of rookies the Buccaneers will turn their eyes towards come draft day. Lets take a look below at some of the potential targets and how they may fit into the mix in Tampa. Without further ado, here are the top 12 running backs as I see it in the 2018 NFL Draft for your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State - The consensus number one back in the draft, Saquon Barkley, offers a full three down offensive talent in a dynamic package. The games in which Saquon Barkley has been reviewed are against Ohio State, Rutgers, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. Barkley tested out incredibly well at the combine, sized up at 6’0 233lbs and will enter the league with 773 offensive touches and 51 offensive touchdowns in his collegiate career.
- Pros: Barkley is a leader on the offense and is noted for having good character on and off the field. Developed frame built for sustained abuse and despite the size, changes directions with ease. Capable pass catcher that showed consistent hands and a good understanding of routes out of the backfield. Shows ability to stop and go with suddenness, acceleration is tremendous and open field running skills are a cause for concern for defenses. Runs with good pad level and maintains balance well without sacrificing speed when changing directions, plant and go ability is plus plus. Kick return ability adds a separate element above other high level runners in this draft. Footwork is good and feet continue to churn through contact. Ran primarily out of the shotgun in college with no lead blocker in a zone scheme, learned to create yards for himself and survey the field as he approaches the line which is a skill many see with Bell in Pittsburgh.
- Cons: Often looks to elude the defender versus size up and go through, this is a positive and negative and is the ladder in instances where short yardage is needed. While surveying the field behind the line, has been susceptible to losing yards in situations where exploding to the line would net positive yardage. Struggled with this Against Ohio State and Indiana where the defense didn’t hesitate and made him pay. Barkley lacks the ability to create on his own, this is common in 99% of backs and this is a statement to make here because it’s something the elite of the elite backs do (Think Bell, Adrian Peterson, David Johnson to an extent) that makes them who they are. Barkley sits and relies heavily on the line to create. In instances where a bounce outside or simply powering through the middle is necessary to make the play for himself, Barkley can be found dancing back behind the line and against Ohio State, working further back beyond the line which is a big no-no for a back but it’s a common flaw and really just a hazard of the position. Running backs rely on their offensive line, it’s the reality of the position.
- Overview: Barkley is the top back of this class, his positives HEAVILY outweigh any of his negatives and he has separated himself from the pack with good distance. For the Buccaneers, Barkley is still a luxury pick with greater needs on the offensive line (to help an eventual back) and in the defensive backfield at corner and strong safety. Barkley will be a top 10 pick, Barkley will immediately provide help to whichever offense he is added to and Jameis would be ecstatic to get this caliber of player. If the Bucs did select Barkley with the 7th overall pick, the team would have arguably the most dynamic offense in team history (We’ve heard this one before... haven’t we?).
Sony Michel, Georgia - Michel comes in at number two in my running back rankings and it’s primarily for his explosive play ability. Michel was part of a Georgia two-headed monster at running back that included Nick Chubb. Michel has shown big play ability as a receiver and runner out of the backfield and totes a career 6.1 yard per carry rate. Standing 5’11 while weighing 214 lbs, Michel will enter the NFL with 654 offensive touches and 39 touchdowns. Games that were reviewed are against Florida, Alabama, Aurburn and Notre Dame.
- Pros: Character, Michel has shown top notch character on and off the field while at Georgia and is a vocal leader on the team. His love for teammates and hard work would be a great fit for Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston. Michel’s “Thank You” letter made big rounds as he credited teammates for a big playoff win. Enough about character, let’s get to why Michel is the number two back here. Michel shows plus vision and a good understanding of how to set up blockers to create running lanes. Against Alabama you will see Michel stick to the lineman’s hip while reading the linebackers movements, in a flip of a switch Michel finds the hole and hits it for a positive gain. While showing patience, Michel also proves to be a decisive runner with little hesitation to his game. Michel shows the ability to stop and go and cut to a side lane with the first level and on to the second. Open field vision is a plus and Michel does not shy away from dropping pad level and initiating contact downfield. Power and pad level allow for easy broken tackles when defenders don’t square up and form tackle. Ability to protect the quarterback in pass pro is great, showing incredible blitz pickup and ability to redirect and stand up defenders.
- Cons: Pass catching skills are simply adequate, not a big threat to catch passes out of the backfield until hands soften and skills are refined here. Lacks elite agility and short area quickness, once up to speed the hips tighten a bit. Showed a slight bit of balance issues early in runs when approaching the trenches. Patience when approaching the line is inconsistent at times and leads to early finishes on runs that had yardage left to be had. Michel like Barkley, and every other back in this class, lacks the elite ability to create on his own when run protection breaks down though moving backwards is not the same issue with Michel as is with Barkley.
- Overview: Michel comes in at number two on this list and will enter the league with 3-down potential thanks to his outstanding pass protection. Grit, leadership and explosive play ability puts Michel in round 1 territory for myself. Michel would be a great fit in Tampa where the passing attack is primary and keeping Jameis healthy is number one.
Derrius Guice, LSU - Guice had some nicks and bruises along the way in 2017 and because of that, a heavy mix of 2016 tape was used along with some later 2017 games. Guice is a full 3-down back and one of few in this draft. Guice stands 5’10 weighing 212 lbs and runs wild. 2016 Games watched include Southern Miss, Arkansas (wow), Missouri and Florida. 2017 games include Tennessee and Notre Dame. In all, Guice touched the ball 503 times for 32 total touchdowns on offense in his collegiate career.
- Pros: Shows the big three of power, balance and quickness out of the backfield. Shows ability to adjust to protection breakdowns and cut to open space. Vision is plus and Guice finds the crease well. Maintains solid speed when cutting, stop and go ability is above average while motor is elite. Follows the blocks and allows play to set up, rarely getting in front and in turn, in trouble. Ability to bounce off tacklers and keep moving is top notch. Angry runner that shows ability to create on his own (Did not see with Barkley/Michel to this extent) and take over. Brawler in every sense, as games continues so does Guice as he imposes his will on defenders. Ability to keep churning and fighting throughout a tackle has led to many spin outs and broken tackles for extra damage. Impressive lower half shows off in these instances.
- Cons: Guice is not much of a pass catcher and pass protection while adequate, is not high level. Overall burst is not near the same level of Michel and Barkley. Pad level at times will cause some trouble at the next level. Open field agility and shake are lacking, tightness when up to speed is evident. Back to pass protection, tends to nick the defender versus squaring up and taking on the pass rush, this will not suffice and needs to be worked on.
- Overview: Guice shows 3-down capability but needs work in pass pro and pass catching to make this happen. For sure 2-down capability out of the gate and now healthy. Injury history mixed with a Marshawn Lynch approach to running may limit his longevity. In the end, it’s hard not to like a back who loves contact when the ball is in his hands and gives never ending effort until the whistle is blown. Guice may be a late round 1 to mid 2nd round target and the Buccaneers could use a player of his attitude and ability in the backfield.
Ronald Jones, USC - Jones was a big play machine for USC and will look to continue that in the NFL. With a heavy workload that saw him touch the ball 275 times this past season and take some punishing blows, Jones showed he could shoulder an NFL type load. Standing 5’11 weighing 200 lbs, Jones touched the ball 623 times for 42 touchdowns on offense. Games reviewed include UCLA, Colorado, Notre Dame, Texas and Stanford.
- Pros: Allows blockers to get set and create lanes. Shows great quickness and nimble footwork in the trenches. Ability to accelerate quickly and stop on a dime to change direction. Loses little in overall speed when planting and turning in open field. Ability to maintain balance and top speed allows multiple moves and changes in directions in a single play. Shows good approach to contact when running and continues to churn for yardage. Willing participant in pass protection though form and effectiveness can be spotty.
- Cons: Route running out of the backfield was sub-par but given players athletic ability as a runner, should be able to be coached up here. Vision inside is spotty at times and will jump early without seeing second level defenders. Lacks the grab and go decisiveness of the top two backs in this draft. Running pattern around line of scrimmage causes some issues with poor momentum build up to the line. Pass protection set up is sketchy and will need to be refined.
- Overview: Possibly the last back with true 3-down starter ability up front day 1, Jones has the tools to be an effective lead back. Big play talent and the expected growth as a pass catcher should land Jones many looks early on in the draft as round one ends and round two begins. For the Buccaneers, Jones could offer some speed the team lacks and behind a revamped line should be able to find some runnings to explode through.
Kerryon Johnson, Auburn - The former Mr. Football winner in Alabama dealt with some shoulder issues during his 2017 campaign but it wasn’t enough to derail Johnson’s season and keep him from scoring 20 touchdowns. The junior running back had his most productive season to date in 2017 and enters the draft as a 3 down prospect. Standing 6’0 weighing 212 lbs, Johnson will come into the league with 574 offensive touches and 34 total touchdowns. Games watched include Missouri, Louisiana State, Alabama and Central Flor.
- Pros: Johnson shows good initial burst and top end speed. When bouncing outside, Johnson shows good speed to turn the corner and maintains pad level well slashing early in the run. Getting the edge and cutting back is a relative staple in Johnson’s game that should translate well to the NFL. Johnson shows good grit and churns the legs when hit, rarely giving in on initial contact. Johnson showed a solid understanding of protecting the quarterback and utilizes his body well to chip and hold up the rush. Johnson showed solid hands and a good understanding of creating space on screens.
- Cons: Johnson tends to be a bit upright in his stance once past the LOS and struggles with pad level beyond the first level of defenders. Tends to struggle finding the crease and relies on open lanes. Struggles to evade defenders in the backfield and lacks the “6th sense” to get up-field at times. Lack of creativity in the open field, senses the defender and elects to square up more often than not versus creating a missed tackle.
- Overview: Kerryon Johnson is arguably the last of the top backs that show early career 3-down ability. Johnson’s ability as a pass protector and willingness to muscle up against competition bodes well for his ability to make a smooth transition to the NFL. Johnson had a slight injury this season but it didn’t stop him from carrying a monster workload and producing. If the Bucs look to Johnson, expect him to step in and take the lead role.
Nick Chubb, Georgia - Chubb has dealt with some serious adversity after tearing ligaments in his left knee only to come back and put up some incredible numbers as part of a two piece combo in Georgia’s backfield with Sony Michel. Chubb was superhuman-esque pre injury and expectations were tempered as expected, however Chubb came back and showed he can still perform at a pretty high level. Chubb stands 5’11 weighing in at 228 lbs while totaling 788 touches on offense and 48 touchdowns. Games watched include Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida, Auburn and Notre Dame.
- Pros: Chubb runs with good pad level and determination. Chubb shows a solid cutback move and displays good balance when running between the tackles. Deals well with traffic and has shown his footwork is still good post injury. Chubb allows blockers to set and doesn’t rush his approach to the line. Mental and physical toughness are top notch for the position. Maintains balance when hit off-center and legs continue to move through contact.
- Cons: Lacks top end acceleration and long speed since injury. Not an evasive runner the last two seasons following his injury and second gear is still lacking. Propensity to get to the hole a tad late has been exposed post injury. Lacks repetition and refinement as a pass blocker with Michel handling those responsibilities almost exclusively the past season +. Injury to knee is a long term concern worth keeping an eye on along with heavy workload while at Georgia.
- Overview: Chubb was a very productive back at Georgia despite his knee injury. Staying for a senior year should prove to be worth it as Chubb did regain some of his burst that was completely lacking in 2016, the season following his ligament injury. Chubb shows a solid well rounded running game but lacks any one decisive skill that would separate him from the pack. Lack of work as a pass protector would likely keep the Bucs from taking him as a primary option early in the draft with Winston’s health being the focal point of making the offense go. As the draft progresses, if Chubb were to find himself late and available in round 3 +, the Bucs could find some value in a well rounded back like Chubb.
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State - Penny had arguably the greatest 2017 season of any back entering the draft this season after totaling 2,300 yards from scrimmage. Penny was part of a two headed monster at running back for several seasons with Donnel Pumphrey and exploded in his final season as the lead back. Penny stands 5’11 weighing in at 220 lbs and looks to take his 308 total offensive touches and 44 career touchdowns to the league. Games watched: Stanford, New Mexico, Army and Wyoming (2016).
- Pros: Built for the NFL with a good lower half and strong frame. Incredible foot speed and quickness helps him create misses as shown by his efficiency in making defenders miss. Shows good instincts and awareness along the LOS, pressing for the crease and snaking through. Sets up his blockers and maintains awareness well. Has shown ability to freeze defenders in open space and delivers a solid stiff arm at times. Maintains speed while changing direction and balance. Has shown to be reliable as a pass catcher and maximized attempts as a whole over college career when catching balls out of the backfield.
- Cons: Inability to block for his quarterback is a massive mark on his stock. Struggles to take on pass rushers and willingness is spotty at times too. Penny lacks the final gear to separate in the open field. Tends to get upright in his running and doesn’t break angled tackles too often. Penny despite showing great quickness, doesn’t utilize cutback lanes properly and gets a bit too anxious to cut runs outside unnecessarily.
- Overview: Penny has the ability and talent to be a 3 down running back eventually and for this reason he is a mainstay as a mid-round option for the Buccaneers in my opinion. With a lot of work in pass protection, there’s reason to believe Penny has the ability to take on a full load in the NFL in the backfield. For the Buccaneers, Penny could be a low-risk high reward option starting in round 3 of this years draft.
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State - Ballage is best known for his 2016 performance where he scored 8 touchdowns against Texas Tech. Ballage also had a positive showing Senior Bowl week that should help him out a bit. Ballage stands 6’1 weighing in at 227 lbs and totaled 532 offensive touches with 29 touchdowns in his Arizona State career. Games watched include UCLA, Colorado, Washington and Oregon (2016).
- Pros: Ballage shows promising speed when given time to accelerate into it. Strong lower half helps generate some serious force into would be tacklers. Multi-faceted player that was regularly used as a pass catcher out of the backfield in 2016. Hands and open space running are a plus. Consistently falls forward when being brought down. Incredibly light workload should ensure his body is in good condition for a back. Willing pass protector that simply needs refinement on technique and how to engage. Worked out of the slot at times and seemed comfortable outside of the backfield.
- Cons: Despite very good speed when at top gear, doesn’t always show it otherwise in games. Takes a few extra steps to hit second and kick it in to top gear. Isn’t as agile and loose as you’d like from a back. Struggles in his approach to the line, giving defense ample time to engage and release blockers. High running style allows for easier take downs than you’d expect from a back his size. This showed on several plays against UCLA which was a disappointment to see. When his line gives up backfield penetration, balance issues and panic seem to set in.
- Overview: Ballage shows some signs of being a good back but as someone that watches a lot of Buccaneer football, some tendencies reminded myself far too much of Charles Sims. The upright running style, going down on first contact at times and his propensity for catching passes are stark reminders of who Charles Sims has been in the NFL. Given these resemblances, it bares to mind that the team may take some interest in Ballage in the mid to later rounds of the draft.
Ito Smith, Southern Mississippi - Tabbed by many as the hidden gem of the draft this year, Ito Smith very well may be the best back you’ve never heard of of. Smith stands 5’9 weighing 201 lbs and will take an impressive 960 snaps and 49 career touchdowns to the league. Games watched include Louisiana Lafayette (2016), LSU (2016), Kentucky (2016) and FSU.
- Pros: Three down back potential with a good foundation as a pass protector and very good hands catching balls out of the backfield. Smart runner when asked to go inside, displaying very good vision and one-cut and go style. Regularly shows the ability to get 3-5 yards on plays that should be stopped at the LOS. Against Florida State, showed ability to bounce outside and get up-field in a hurry. Displays good lateral agility and shiftiness. Shows patience to allow play to develop.
- Cons: Must have more awareness when in traffic to secure the ball and wrap his hands around it. Does not show game changing speed. Lacks overall size desired at the position despite adding some weight from his regular season listed weight of 195. Has a lot of mileage on his body through four years of school.
- Overview: Smith is by far and large my favorite small school guy and has a relatively good shot to prove his worth and potentially end up a starting back down the road. Ball security will be key for him if he does get the opportunity in camp and pre-season. Smith didn’t get a combine invite which on top of the Senior Bowl, should have further helped his stock. Currently a late round option, Smith is a player I’d advise the Bucs take a look at given his abilities as a pass catcher and potential as a three down back with some work.
Royce Freeman, Oregon - Freeman enters the 2018 draft as the most used and abused back in this class. With a body built like a tank, Freeman was used as one over his four years at Oregon. Freeman stands 5’11 weighing in at an impressive 234 lbs and will take his 1,026 total offensive touches and 64 touchdowns to the league. Games watched include Oregon State, Washington and Arizona.
- Pros: Freeman has natural power and impressive brute strength throughout the lower half, capable of pushing the pocket for a few extra yards. Successful at shrugging off mishit tackles and high approaches. Freeman shows solid vision and decent patience behind the line. Lowers the shoulder in the open field and drops pad level to deliver some impressive blows to defensive backs.
- Cons: Lacks speed despite a respectable 40 time at the combine. Stiff and unable to change direction while maintaining speed. Has shown that he will absorb more power than he’ll deliver at times. Unimpressive as a pass protector despite size, often over-matched and outworked. Has shown little competency as a receiver other than a basic check down option.
- Overview: Freeman is a two-down back that is a liability in the passing game. Freeman offers some potential as a short yardage back and situational runner to close out games. If the Buccaneers are looking for a player of this type, Freeman may be the guy to look at come day 3.
Akrum Wadley, Iowa - Wadley enters the draft coming off of back to back 1,000 yard seasons for Iowa. Standing 5’10 and weighing in at 191 lbs, Wadley will take 607 total touches and 35 touchdowns to the NFL with him. Games watched include Michigan State, Purdue, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Penn State.
- Pros: Wadley has worked out of the slot and out of the backfield with good success as a pass catching back. Wadley has plus athletic ability and has been able to evade tacklers with relative consistency. Has shown the ability to make defenders miss in the backfield and turn losses into gains. Incredible agility and lateral movement in the open field. Changes directions and maintains speed with incredible balance. When engaging in pass protection has shown a willingness to square up and grind.
- Cons: Inconsistent as a pass protector and lacks refined technique. Isn’t as stout in the lower half as many other backs in this class. Doesn’t generate broken tackles with the same consistency as others. Lacks the patience to ride blocks into open lanes. Struggles to maintain positioning and balance when hit.
- Overview: Video game skills in the open field with solid hands. Ability to create on his own and is a risk to break a big play at any moment. Wadley has value for a team like the Buccaneers who love to throw the ball and get the ball into the hands of play-makers. With Wadley lacking the build to be a lead back, he could be an option as a change of pace and third down back with some work on his pass protection.
John Kelly, Tennessee - The Tennessee back has seemed to be a bit of fan favorite for Bucs fans on twitter while steadily improving year to year. Standing 5’9 and weighing in at 205 lbs, Kelly looks to take 370 career offensive touches and 15 total touchdowns to the league. Games watched include Florida, Georgia Tech and Louisiana State.
- Pros: Kelly does a good job keeping his pads low and his legs moving through contact. Kelly absorbs contact well, maintaining balance and churning the feet. Kelly utilized a good stiff arm several times in the games I reviewed and often took a second or third defender to help bring him down. Kelly showed promise as a pass catcher and was a willing pass protector for Tennessee.
- Cons: Kelly lacks lateral quickness and explosiveness you look for in starting backs. Kelly missed some potential gains against Louisiana State, seemingly lacking the feel and vision to find a crease when there. Showed some signs of struggling to recognize the cut back lanes and when he does, lacks the acceleration needed to exploit them further.
- Overview: Kelly has very low usage which should make him appealing to NFL teams given his well rounded skill set. For Buc fans looking at Kelly they may recall a bit of Earnest Graham’s days in a Buccaneer uniform. Kelly isn’t the type of back to solve problems in the backfield for the Buccaneers but as a secondary option should the team find a true #1 , Kelly would be a good option as the secondary back. Kelly’s skill set should land him in the day 3 range.
Nyheim Hines, N.C. State - Hines worked exclusively as the change of pace/pass catching back for NC State his first two years before breaking out as the lead back in 2017. Hines stands 5’8 weighing 197 lbs and tallied 347 offensive touches with 14 touchdowns in his college career. Games watched include North Carolina and Arizona State.
- Pros: Track speed that translates to the field. Three scores of 50+ yards help to reinforce the elite top end speed for Nyheim Hines. Worked heavily on the outside of the line with runs in games I reviewed. Quickness and speed allowed Hines to separate from defenders attempting to attack the edge and keep him inside. Hines didn’t shy from contact and threw a good stiff arm. Has been given work as a true receiver and showed the ability to run routes effectively on the outside and in the backfield.
- Cons: Lacks ideal size for the position. Tends to take unnecessary hits showing some struggles to protect his body. Doesn’t show the desired patience for play development and struggled to find some available creases the line gave him. Lacks the lateral movement and elusiveness most pure running backs show. Hands are adequate but drops have been part of his career despite good amounts of usage as a pass catching back. Pass protection is suspect.
- Overview: Hines is simply a tool in the toolbox at this point of his development. Teams looking to draft Hines will need specific packages and plays for for his skill set until he develops more as a football player. Raw talent will get him looks and for the Buccaneers, Hines’ usage as a back, receiver and returner may be intriguing in the final stages of the draft.
Mark Walton, Miami (FL) - With his final season shortened by an ankle injury, Mark Walton Jr. elected to enter the draft. Walton is a player that has seen many highs and lows over his three year career at Miami, some of which we’ll touch on here. Walton stands 5’10 weighing in at 188 lbs and brings his 451 career touches and 28 total touchdowns to the league. Games watched: Florida State (2016 and 2017), Duke, Bethune Cookman and Georgia Tech (2016).
- Pros: When (heavy focus on “when”) he allows the play to develop, shows the ability to read the block and let it set for an open lane. Runs with good pad level and balance. Runs well between the tackles despite size. Absorbs contact well for a player his size and pushes through tackles. In space, Walton shows good awareness and lateral movement. Has shown good hands and route running. Has shown ability to make something out of nothing when plays break down.
- Cons: Tends to abandon play design too often and freelances more than I’d like to see over following the block and letting a play develop. A lot of behind the LOS movement and indecisiveness. Lacks a final gear and top end speed wanted in a starting back. Rarely plants his foot into the ground and just cuts, rather stutters or resets then goes. Sub-par results against top opponents of Florida State and Georgia Tech in games I reviewed. Huge production numbers in non-competitive games help skew overall production.
- Overview: A combo back that will be a RBBC at most in the NFL. Lack of high end speed and pass protection make for a tough job. For the Buccaneers, Walton could be an option on day 3 if the team has missed on more suitable options out of the backfield.
Josh Adams, Notre Dame - Adams has built up his resume each season at Notre Dame little by little. the Fight Irish back has matched an uptick in usage with a considerable uptick in production three years in a row. Standing 6’2 weighing in at 213 lbs, Adams takes 521 touches and 22 touchdowns with him on his journey to the NFL. Games watched include Stanford, USC and Louisiana State.
- Pros: Works well in short yardage situations and loves contact. Throws body into defenders and bullies would be tacklers. Power is NFL quality and gets impressively low for a 6’2 back.
- Cons: Lacks top end speed and shiftiness. Takes a while to get into gear and regularly is taking on contact within 3-5 yards of the LOS. Hasn’t shown ability to pass protect and hands are below average for the position. Lack of creativity in runs is evident and teams can easily zero in on him when he’s in the game.
- Overview: Adams will be a late pick if drafted but could serve an important role as the short yardage back for a team. In the Buccaneers instance, Adams would arguably be a bit of a luxury pick late and the team would need a definitive plan for his usage.
The rundown, here’s how the Buccaneers board should shake out looking only at the above options.
- Saquon Barkley, Penn State
- Sony Michel, Georgia
- Derrius Guice, LSU
- Ronald Jones, USC
- Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
- Nick Chubb, Georgia
- Rashaad Penny, San Diego St.
- Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
- Ito Smith, Southern Mississippi
- Royce Freeman, Oregon
- Akrum Wadley, Iowa
- John Kelly, Tennessee
- Nyheim Hines, N.C. State
- Mark Walton, Miami (FL)
- Josh Adams, Notre Dame