The NFL Draft is now less than a week away, and NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock is just as confident as ever in the depth at running back in this year's class.
Mayock on Friday answered questions during his annual pre-draft conference call with media. According to the analyst, over the past five years, the average number of running backs selected in the first three rounds is seven.
This year, he expects 10 or 11 running backs to be off the board by the end of Round 3.
Mayock predicted most of the guys taken in the first three rounds to be every-down backs for the teams that draft them. He touched specifically on names he believes will fall to the third round.
"I have guys like Samaje Perine, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams," Mayock said. "I'm not a D'Onta Foreman fan, but I think the league will probably take him somewhere in the late third round. But to me, they'll all three-down backs. Foreman might not be a third-down back, he might be a first- or second-down.
"And as you go through the draft, Marlon Mack is probably a three-down back," Mayock continued. "I look at Donnel Pumphrey more as a third-down, change-of-pace guy that I love."
Mayock went on to say that teams will still have good options into the fourth and fifth round, referencing Clemson's Wayne Gallman and Pittsburgh's James Conner.
"I think there's quality at the top end, and I think there's depth throughout," Mayock said.
One of the players Mayock pegs to be drafted in the first or second round is Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon. While there have been some character questions raised about Mixon, Mayock said he hasn't necessarily been counted out by teams.
"More than half the league is doing their homework on this guy," Mayock said. "And he's going to play in the league."
Options at O-Line
The Vikings are currently slated to have their first pick in the second round at No. 48 overall.
While Mayock said that running back could be a position of interest for Minnesota, he also opined that offensive line may be a position of target with their first selection. Mayock tossed out a handful of names that he feels could be good fits for the Vikings.
"At 48, you're sitting there in the middle of the second round, and you have to be looking at guys like Taylor Moton from Western Michigan; Dion Dawkins from Temple; [Dan] Feeney from Indiana; [Pat] Elflein from Ohio State," Mayock said. "Those are the kinds of players that I think would fit into that range.
"They have to have fix that offensive line," he added. "They put a lot of work into it with [Mike] Remmers and Riley [Reiff], the two outside guys, but Dawkins and Moton can both kick inside to guard, and Feeney and Elflein are inside players, also. I think that helps them the most at offensive line."