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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Top RBs in the 2010 Draft


The Chargers will be in search of a running back this spring and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock says the 2010 draft is a good place to find one.

After speaking for nearly 10 minutes Monday about the vast accomplishment and contributions of LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers President Dean Spanos was asked how he planned to go about replacing the future Hall of Fame running back.

“You can’t,” Spanos said. “Those are big shoes to fill obviously.”

Not to mention RB Darren Sproles future with team is still questionable.

Spanos then said that the organization would explore all avenues when it comes to fortifying the running back position. The NFL draft is just one avenue where NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock believes the Chargers will find some strong options.

“From a running back perspective, I think it’s a great (draft) year,” Mayock said Tuesday. “This is one of the deepest running back classes I’ve seen in a while and you don’t necessarily have to pull the trigger in the first round.”

Clemson’s C.J. Spiller tops Mayock’s list of running back prospects, although it doesn’t appear likely that Spiller will still be on the board when the Chargers select at the 28th spot in the first round. Spiller’s skills as a runner, receiver and returner have him ranked as the 11th best player in the draft in Mayock’s mind.

“He’s a three-phase guy,” Mayock said. “He can play running back, he catches the ball and he’s a killer in the return game.”

Below Spiller, Mayock has a group of running backs clustered close together. One player he’s high on is Ryan Matthews from Fresno State.

“I think he’s got as good balance as any running back I’ve seen in this year’s draft,” Mayock said. “He’s highly productive. This year he had some injury and durability issues. Some people think he’s a late first-round pick. I’d put a second-round grade on him because I’m not sure he’s got elite burst and acceleration, but I’m anxious to see what he runs at 220 (pounds). He could end up running 4.38 or 4.40 (in the 40-yard dash) and that would be pretty interesting because he’s a very talented kid.”

Another running back prospect that intrigues Mayock is Cal’s Jahvid Best, who missed some time late in the season last year after suffering a concussion. Mayock believes that could affect Best’s draft status.

“I’ve got him with a second-round grade because of the concussion and some of the uncertainties around that and his size,” Mayock said. “That’s probably the only reason anyone has him with a second-round grade because he’s got first-round ability. He makes people miss. He’s a home-run hitter.”

Mayock is anxious to see what kind of shape Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech shows up in at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. The 2008 ACC player of the year is listed on Tech’s website at 6-2, 235 and while the production has been there, Mayock is curious about his size.

“I thought he played a little heavy this year around 240,” Mayock said. “Rumors are that he’s lost close to 20 pounds and he’s going to be down there in that 220-225 range. If he runs in the 4.4’s at 225, you’re going to see some people pushing him up boards very quickly.”

After Spiller, Matthews, Best and Dwyer, Mayock lists USC’s Joe McKnight and Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss. At 5-8, 165 pounds, some people believe McCluster will be a player in the mold of Darren Sproles.

If teams are in search of a bigger running back, there are options there as well.

“Again, this is a deep, deep class,” Mayock said. “There are some bigger backs you can get in the second or third round. Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State is 240 pounds. He’s got better feet than you think. Toby Gerhart from Stanford might be a third round pick (He’s) another 235-pound guy. Then there’s Ben Tate from Auburn, Montario Hardesty from Tennessee and LeGarrette Blount from Oregon, who’s got some off-the-field issues as we all know but had a heck of a Senior Bowl week.”

Other prospects Mayock mentioned as candidates to be selected later in the draft include Charles Scott from LSU, Chris Brown from Oklahoma and Javarris James from Miami.