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Draft Snapshot: 10 Running Backs to Watch

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The clock is ticking on the 2018 NFL Draft.

One of the league’s most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on April 26 in Dallas. The second and third rounds will be held on April 27 and begin at 6 p.m. (CT). Round 4 will start at 11 a.m. (CT) on April 28 and be followed by Rounds 5-7.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 30th overall pick.

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

Schedule 

April 16: Quarterbacks

April 17: Running backs

April 18: Receivers

April 19: Tight ends

April 20: Tackles

April 21: Interior Offensive Linemen

April 22: Defensive tackles

April 23: Defensive ends

April 24: Linebackers

April 25: Cornerbacks

April 26: Safeties

Where the Vikings Stand

The Vikings are returning Latavius Murray, who led the team in rushing last season with 842 yards on 216 carries (3.9 yards per attempt) and scored eight touchdowns on the ground, and Dalvin Cook. A rookie in 2017, Cook got off to a hot start before a torn ACL in Week 4 sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

The Vikings also have fullback C.J. Ham, who helped Minnesota improve to seventh in the NFL in rushing after ranking 18th in 2016. Mack Brown, whom the Vikings signed off waivers in 2017, also is on the roster. Brown appeared in one game for Minnesota last season.

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of running backs taken (including players designated as fullback): 122

Round 1: 5

Round 2: 13

Round 3: 15

Round 4: 23

Round 5: 20

Round 6: 26

Round 7: 20

The 2017 Draft proved to be a hotbed for running backs – 30 (including three fullbacks) were selected, which was seven more than the previous year. The Vikings traded up in the second round from 48 to secure Cook with the 41st overall pick.

Teams have begun to view running backs as a less-urgent needs in the draft, however, and the number selected in the first round has gone down significantly in recent history, averaging just one selection on the first day in the past five drafts. In 2013 and 2014, no running backs were taken off the board in Round 1. Teams are more likely to wait until the later rounds, with the exception for a select few who are snagged early on.

The Prospects (based on rankings by CBS Sports)

*1. Saquon Barkley *

Penn State, Junior, 6-foot, 233 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.4 seconds (second among running backs)

Bench press: 29 reps of 225 pounds (tied for second among running backs)

Vertical jump: 41 inches (first among running backs)

20-yard shuttle: 4.24 seconds (eighth among running backs)

2017 stats: rushed for 1,271 yards on 217 attempts (5.6 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns; added 54 catches for 632 yards and three scores

*2. Derrius Guice *

LSU, Junior, 5-foot-10, 212 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.49 seconds (fifth among running backs)

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 31.5 inches

2017 stats: rushed for 1,251 yards on 237 attempts (5.3 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns; added 18 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns

*3. Ronald Jones II *

Southern Cal, Junior, 5-foot-11, 205 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.65 seconds

Vertical jump: 36.5 inches (tied for sixth among running backs)

2017 stats: rushed for 1,550 yards on 261 attempts (5.9 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns; added 14 catches for 187 yards and one touchdown

*4. Nick Chubb *

Georgia, Senior, 5-foot-11, 227 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.52 seconds (tied for sixth among running backs)

Bench press: 29 reps of 225 pounds (second among running backs)

Vertical jump: 38.5 inches (tied for fourth among running backs)

Broad jump: 10 feet, 8 inches (second among running backs)

3-cone drill: 7.09 seconds (tied for ninth among running backs)

20-yard shuttle: 4.25 seconds (tied for ninth among running backs)

2017 stats: rushed for 1,345 yards on 223 attempts (6.0 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns; added four catches for 30 yards

*5. Sony Michel *

Georgia, Senior, 5-foot-11, 220 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds (tied for sixth among running backs)

Bench press: 22 reps of 225 pounds (tied for fifth among running backs)

20-yard shuttle: 4.21 seconds (sixth among running backs)

2017 stats: rushed for 1,227 yards on 156 attempts (7.9 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns; added nine catches for 96 yards and one touchdown

*6. Royce Freeman *

Oregon, Senior, 5-foot-11, 229 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.54 seconds (tied for ninth among running backs)

Bench press: 17 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 34 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 10 inches

3-cone drill: 6.9 seconds (third among running backs)

20-yard shuttle: 4.16 seconds (tied for third among running backs)

60-yard shuttle: 11.64 seconds (fourth among running backs)

2017 stats: rushed for 1,475 yards on 244 attempts (6.0 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns; added 14 catches for 164 yards

*7. Kerryon Johnson *

Auburn, Junior, 5-foot-11, 213 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 11 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 40 inches (tied for second among running backs)

Broad jump: 10 feet, 6 inches (third among running backs)

3-cone drill: 7.07 seconds (eighth among running backs)

20-yard shuttle: 4.29 seconds

2017 stats: rushed for 1,391 yards on 285 attempts (4.9 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns; added 24 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns

8. Kalen Ballage

Arizona State, Senior, 6-foot-1, 228 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.46 seconds (tied for third among running backs)

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 33.5 inches

Broad jump: 10 feet, 2 inches (tied for fifth among running backs)

3-cone drill: 6.91 seconds (fourth among running backs)

20-yard shuttle: 4.35 seconds

2017 stats: rushed for 669 yards on 157 attempts (4.3 yards per carry) and six touchdowns; added 20 catches for 91 yards

9. Ito Smith

Southern Mississippi, Senior, 5-foot-9, 195 pounds

Combine numbers

Was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine

2017 stats: rushed for 1,413 yards on 248 attempts (5.7 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns; added 40 catches for 396 yards and two touchdowns <center>

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*10. Mark Walton *

Miami, Junior, 5-foot-10, 202 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.6 seconds

Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds (tied for ninth among running backs)

Vertical jump: 31.5 inches

Broad jump: 9 feet, 10 inches

2017 stats: rushed for 428 yards on 56 attempts (7.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns; added seven catches for 91 yards

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