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Recent posts by Matt Feminis
Gone are the days when teams would be willing to give up a king's ransom for a workhorse running back coming out of the college ranks. Given the nature of the position, a running back's shelf life is short and even the elite producers flame out, as evidenced by the career trajectories of LaDanian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson most recently. Further, teams know they can find contributors and even starter-caliber runners after Round Two.
On the whole, this year's running back class is average, but one or two mid- to late-round picks have potential to be this season's Shonn Greene or Bernard Scott:
- Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State: One of the top backs in the SEC, Dixon went overlooked nationally and had some maturity issues during his time in Starkville, but he looks the part with size and strength to push the pile and shows surprising foot quickness for a big back. Dixon runs hard, shows second-level burst and flashes a stiff arm. Look no further than the Houston contest in which he carried defenders nearly 30 yards for a touchdown. If he's able to take on a more professional approach, Dixon is capable of churning out yardage as a complementary big back right away and possesses eventual starter potential.
- Stafon Johnson, USC: In position to take on a more prominent role as a senior in 2009, Johnson suffered a scary weightlifting injury in September when he dropped a 285-pound bar on his throat, crushing his neck and larynx. An emergency, life-saving surgery was required and his USC playing career ended abruptly. A Los Angeles product, Johnson was one of the best prospects in the nation out of high school and was sought after by the top programs from coast to coast. While sharing carries in an exceptionally deep backfield, he flashed vision and nifty feet and was used as a punt returner despite lacking breakaway speed. He might be one of the bigger names scooped up after the draft, and could wind up an effective chain mover if able to round back into shape. Showed perseverence returning to the field at the Senior Bowl.
- Lonyae Miller, Fresno State: Miller faded to the background in 2009 as Ryan Mathews piled up yardage and emerged as one of the top draft-eligible backs. Miller did not go overlooked by scouts, however, who recognize his natural athletic ability, fluid movement skills and good speed for a 220-pounder. While he was used minimally as a receiver or return man, he shows a willingness to block and possesses obvious upside despite average instincts and vision. The prospect of a size-speed running back specimen with low mileage is intriguing, and Miller could be a find if he lands in the right system.