December 19, 2014

Running Back Roundup

The Bengals are expected to select a running back on draft day, adding another playmaker to an emerging offense. It could happen as early as Round One, where the Bengals own picks 17 and 21. Or the team could follow its previous history and select a back in the middle rounds where they’ve typically been more successful (Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson). With that in mind, it makes sense to look at some of the top prospects at the running back position, starting with Alabama standout Trent Richardson. Here are the top five players at the position according to draft guru Mel Kiper.

1. Trent Richarson (5-11, 224), Alabama

2. Lamar Miller (5-11, 212), Miami

3. David Wilson (5-10, 205), Virginia Tech

4. LaMichael James (5-9, 185), Oregon

5. Chris Polk (5-11, 222), Washington

Analysis:  It’s a pretty deep running back class and any of the players above would help the Bengals. Common logic is that Cincinnati is looking for a bigger back to replace Cedric Benson, but I wouldn’t be surprised by any player, including James, because I believe offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is planning for a platoon at running back next season.

All the players are interesting in their own ways. Richardson put up impressive numbers in college football’s toughest conference and should be relatively fresh, playing behind Mark Ingram a season ago. Miller had a run longer than 20 yards in 7 of his 12 games last season, which should be exciting for a Bengals rushing attack that lacked explosive plays. Wilson is viewed as a physical player and James could be dangerous in the receiving game. Polk is about the same size as Richardson and is viewed as rather explosive as well. Whomever the Bengals pick (they have to get someone don’t they?), it should be an upgrade over Cedric Benson, who played rather well for the Bengals, but is expected to move on.

It’s time for someone new. And there are plenty of people to pick from.