On Now
Coming Up

News

Print
RSS

Draft Preview: Running Backs

Posted Mar 24, 2016

First installment of annual series takes a look at position group featuring star runners from previous two national championship teams.

Beginning today and leading up until the NFL Draft on April 28, Panthers.com will take a position-by-position look at draft prospects with a helping hand from NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock. We’ll look at Mayock’s top five prospects at each position and will mix in some looks at local prospects as well as players who helped their cause at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Let’s get things started at a position the Panthers no doubt value – running back. Carolina has the longest streak of consecutive regular season games (27) with 100-plus rushing yards since the Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the mid-1970s.

MIKE MAYOCK’S TOP FIVE

Ezekiel Elliott
6-0, 225, Ohio State

With back-to-back 1,800-yard rushing seasons under his belt, Elliott appears to be a potential top-10 overall pick. He truly arrived on the national scene with 200-plus yard games in the Big Ten Championship and the Buckeyes’ two playoff victories in 2014, and he picked up where he left off for a contending Ohio State squad this past season.

Derrick Henry
6-3, 247, Alabama

Led the nation with 2,219 rushing yards this past season to cap a truly remarkable amateur career. Won the Heisman Trophy and the national title last season after having ended his prep career as the national record holder for career rushing yards. The bruising back may or may not still be on the board when the Panthers select 30th in the draft.

Devontae Booker
5-1, 219, Utah

Potential second-round pick comes from a pro-style offense and ran like a pro his last two college seasons, rushing for 1,512 yards as a junior and 1,261 yards as a senior despite missing the final three games with a torn meniscus. Was fully recovered in time to participate in NFL Scouting Combine.

Kenneth Dixon
5-10, 215, Louisiana Tech

A physical runner who doesn’t go down easily, Dixon certainly has a knack for finding the end zone, ranking second in Football Bowl Subdivision with 87 career rushing touchdowns. Fell just a few yards short of topping 1,000 yards each of his four college seasons but probably won’t fall out of the second day (rounds 2-3) of the draft.

C.J. Prosise
6-0, 220, Notre Dame

Mayock, who doubles as color commentator for Notre Dame football broadcasts, is a little higher on Prosise than some, but there is a lot to like. Prosise is relatively new to the position, having spent much of his time at wide receiver and on special teams before emerging last season to top 1,000 yards.

COMBINE STANDOUT

Keith Marshall
5-11, 219, Georgia

The North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year from Raleigh Millbrook High School in 2011, Marshall battled injuries in college but certainly seemed healthy at the Combine and looks like a third-day (round 4-7) draft prospect. His 4.31 in the 40-yard dash was the best time regardless of position and was a whole tenth-of-a-second faster than any other running back. Also ranked fourth among running backs with 25 reps in the bench press.