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Draft Snapshot: 10 Takes on RBs in 2017 NFL Draft

Posted Apr 19, 2017

The clock is ticking on the 2017 NFL Draft. 

One of the league’s most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on April 27 in Philadelphia. The second and third rounds begin at 6 p.m. (CT) on April 28. Rounds 4-7 start at 11 a.m. (CT) on April 29.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 48th overall pick, which is the No. 16 spot in the second round.

Vikings.com is taking a glance at the top prospects at each position leading up to the draft.

Next up: running backs.

Where the Vikings Stand


The Vikings retooled their running back group this offseason by signing Latavius Murray, who ran for 12 touchdowns in 2016. Jerick McKinnon returns after leading the Vikings in rushing with 539 yards last season. He also had a pair of rushing touchdowns. C.J. Ham and Bishop Sankey are also on the roster after spending all or some of 2016 on the practice squad.

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of running backs taken: 112

Round 1: 5

Round 2: 13

Round 3: 14

Round 4: 18

Round 5: 18

Round 6: 25

Round 7: 19

First-round running backs have become a rare breed in recent history. The position has averaged just one selection on the first day of the past five drafts. Teams are more likely to wait until later rounds, as was the case with McKinnon (third round) Murray (sixth round).

The Prospects (based on rankings by CBS Sports)

1. Leonard Fournette

LSU, Junior, 6-foot, 240 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds

Vertical jump: 28.5 inches

2016 stats: rushed for 843 yards on 129 attempts (6.5 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns; added 15 catches for 146 yards

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Fournette is a “built like a linebacker with his big-boned frame and developed physique. The most physical finisher at contact I've scouted at the position, delivering punishment with an impressive combination of violence, power and determination. Lowers his pads and looks like a hammer in search of a nail.” 

Brugler also noted Fournette has “inconsistent decision-making at times behind the line of scrimmage, allowing defenders to reset and get a read on him. Most of his impressive runs on tape came from large holes created by his blockers with not enough examples of him creating on his own vs. the first wave of the defense.”

2. Dalvin Cook

Florida State, Junior, 5-foot-10, 210 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds

Bench press: 22 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 30.5 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches

3-cone drill: 7.27 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.53 seconds

2016 stats: rushed for 1,765 yards on 288 attempts (6.1 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns; added 33 catches for 488 yards and a touchdown

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Cook has an “explosive lower body and coordinated feet to start, stop and redirect quickly. Elusive athlete and can make defenders miss in a phone booth, showing exceptional body control and instincts in his jump cuts. Senses his surroundings well and anticipates spacing in his runs.” 

Brugler also noted Cook “lacks ideal body armor to be a consistent hammer. Not the type of power back who will drop his pads and move bodies with leg drive. Ball security concerns with 12 fumbles the past three seasons (six in 2016), averaging one every 63.8 touches on offense.”

3. Christian McCaffrey 

Stanford, Junior, 5-foot-11, 202 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.48 seconds

Bench press: 10 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 37.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 1 inch

3-cone drill: 6.57 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.22 seconds

60-yard shuttle: 11.03 seconds

2016 stats: rushed for 1,603 yards on 253 attempts (6.3 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns; added 37 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, McCaffrey is an “athletic mover with twitchy reflexes. Sudden in space with the lower body agility to easily spring in any direction, transition his weight and shake defenders. Instinctively sorts through the trash with innate anticipation and decision-making, hitting the hole with timing and quickness.”

Brugler also noted McCaffrey has an “adequate build for the position, but doesn't have ideal body armor to live between the tackles. Lacks lower-the-shoulder power and doesn't consistently drive through arm tackles -- unless diving forward, rarely pushes through contact with run strength alone.”

4. Alvin Kamara

Tennessee, Redshirt junior, 5-foot-10, 214 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 39.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 11 inches

2016 stats: rushed for 596 yards on 103 attempts (5.8 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns; added 40 catches for 392 yards and four touchdowns

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Kamara is a “balanced athlete and routinely keeps his feet through contact. Easily changes directions without slowing, using his lateral quickness to cut, go and elude defenders in space. Initial burst to attack run lanes and quickly get to the second level.

Brugler also noted Kamara has “only average inside power and not a short-yardage runner who will create push. Patiently allows plays to develop, but his occasional over-patience will border on hesitant, allowing defenders to reset and square him up.”

5. Joe Mixon

Oklahoma, Redshirt sophomore, 6-foot-1, 228 pounds

Combine numbers

Did not attend

2016 stats: rushed for 1,274 yards on 187 attempts (6.8 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns; added 37 catches for 538 yards and five touchdowns

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Mixon “looks the part of a professional athlete with a muscle-packed frame, including well-built arms, knotted calves and a powerful lower half. Possesses terrific initial quickness and lateral agility for a player of his size, eluding defenders in close quarters with side-steps and jump-cuts and zipping through holes with instant acceleration and the speed to score from any point on the field.”

Rang also noted “though his agility and balance Mixon accelerates quickly but does not appear to have the elite breakaway burst to outrun pursuit angles from savvy defenders. He can get a little careless with the ball, holding the ball loosely and away from his frame.”

6. Marlon Mack

South Florida, Junior, 5-foot-11, 213 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.50 seconds

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 35.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches

2016 stats: rushed for 1,187 yards on 174 attempts (6.8 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns; added 28 catches for 227 yards

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Mack “looks like he has ball bearings in his hips. Able to swivel in multiple directions. Can tilt and slalom around defenders on the second and third level and is able to string moves together. Has slippery feet and is hard to pin down when bouncing laterally.

Zierlein also noted Mack “runs with inconsistent power through contact. Will need to accelerate through contact on next level. Serial run bouncer. Too willing to make wild bounces to the furthest reaches of the perimeter if interior lanes are gummed up.”

7. Kareem Hunt

Toledo, Senior, 5-foot-10, 216 pounds 

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.62 seconds

Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 36.5 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches

2016 stats: rushed for 1,475 yards on 262 attempts (5.6 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns; added 41 catches for 403 yards and a touchdown

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Hunt has a “compact body with broad frame and muscular legs. Above-average agility for his size. Has hips and feet to elude darting defenders in backfield. Uses effective jump-cut to avoid the sludge and shift to the open gap. Runs with good vision and overall instincts.”

Zierlein also noted Hunt “can elude initial tackle but struggles to accelerate after redirecting his feet. Average explosion traits. Marginal downhill burst through line of scrimmage. Inconsistent inside runner. Gets too cute in the hole when run comes to a close.”

8. Samaje Perine

Oklahoma, Junior, 5-foot-11, 233 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds

Bench press: 30 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 33 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches

3-cone drill: 7.26 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds

2016 stats: rushed for 1,060 yards on 196 attempts (5.4 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns; added 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Perine “has build and toughness to handle a heavy workload if called on. Gets a deep press off line of scrimmage before making his cut. Able to fit into the crevices between the tackles and come out the other side. Very powerful through his hips and thighs.”

Zierlein also noted Perine is “all bully with very little ballerina as a runner. Lacks loose hips to make sudden lateral escapes or take advantage of a late opening. Doesn't have the big burst to jet from first to third level.”

9. Wayne Gallman

Clemson, Redshirt junior, 6-foot, 215 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.60 seconds

Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 29.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet

3-cone drill: 7.17 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

2016 stats: rushed for 1,133 yards on 232 attempts (4.9 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns; added 20 catches for 151 yards

Hot take: According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Gallman “has quality burst through line of scrimmage to rip through arm tackles and attack the second level. Runs with plus effort every time he touches the ball. Keeps feet grinding through second level contact.”

Zierlein also noted Gallman is a “leggy, long-strider. Unable to make sharp, sudden cuts in tight quarters. Extended gear down could cause NFL holes to close on him. Vision becomes restricted when running between tackles. Gives away three sure yards searching along riskier lanes.

10. D’Onta Foreman

Texas, Junior, 6-foot, 233 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.46

Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds

2016 stats: rushed for 2,028 yards on 323 attempts (6.3 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns; added seven catches for 75 yards

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Foreman is “built like a tank with broad shoulders and thick thighs. Runs with a low center of gravity to absorb and maintain his balance through contact. Physical bruiser, picking up his knees and finishing with toughness. Arm tackles don't slow him down as he makes it a chore for defenders to get him on the ground.”

Brugler also noted Foreman “comfortably carries 245-250 pounds, but weight/conditioning needs to be maintained. Doesn't have the start/stop burst to make profound cuts in space or consistently create on his own. Limited elusive traits to make defenders miss, relying on play design.”