Running Back is a position of great debate for the Atlanta Falcons. On one hand, the Falcons have three options that they can count on in different situations in Michael Turner, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers. Turner is getting up there in years and hits and some thing that the team should go a different direction. Snelling was recently re-signed this off-season and Rodgers looks like he will have his workload increased this season in Dirk Koeter's offense. RB is not necessarily something that the Falcons have to have this season but if the right player is there then they could very well jump at the chance to bring in a RB with the right fit to the team.
Earlier this off-season we took a look at Washington's Chris Polk and Utah State's Robert Turbin as potential draftees so I won't rehash them in this column. I feel that the Falcons will go along the lines of scrimmage or tight end with their first two picks (unless somebody falls into their laps), so for the purpose of this draft outlook I will be looking at running backs who should be available in the fifth to seventh rounds.
Terrance Ganaway, 6'0", 244
FFtoolbox scouting report: Ganaway isn't particularly athletic, but he is very tough and could handle a ton of carries as a workhorse back. For his size and weight, he has close to average speed and quickness. He knows when to use his agility but more often than not, he understands when to take what the defense gives him. He remains patient with his blockers and possesses good vision to find the open field.
Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State, 5'8", 200
Draft Ace scouting report: Hillman is a prototypical third-down back. He doesn’t have the size to carry the full load, but has all the tools necessary to excel as a backup in the right system. He would be a great fit for a team with a power running back looking to add a change-of-pace back to the system.
Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M, 5'10", 206
NEPatriotsdraft.com scouting report: While Gray might not be as dynamic and doesn’t possess the game breaking ability as some of the other running backs in the draft, Gray exhibits enough ability to be a productive back. Combined with this ability to contribute in the passing game and his ability to pass block, Gray has a package of skills that will be attractive to NFL teams in the mid rounds.
Vick Ballard, 5'10", 219
NFLMocks scouting report: Tough nose runner…gets north and south in a hurry…could be a really nice short yardage and redzone option…Real good size…routinely falls forward to gain extra yardage…powerful legs…good vision…durable…runs balanced…will lower his head and run some people over. Poor man’s Mark Ingram.
Michael Smith, Utah State, 5'8", 207
National Football Post scouting report: A chiseled running back who exhibits a massive upper body with good overall muscle tone and girth through his lower half. He's a powerfully built kid who runs low to the ground, displays good short areas quickness and has a burst when asked to get up the field. He looks explosive pressing space and accelerating toward daylight, could be a nice late round value.
Dan Herron, Ohio State, 5'10", 205
Draft Database scouting report: Herron is a good but not great RB prospect. He does not possess great top end speed but he runs very hard and runs smart. He has good acceleration and works best running behind the tackles. He has the potential to be a workhorse RB in the NFL. He has the frame and talent to be able to carry the ball 300 times in a season. NFL player comparison is Delone Carter.
Adonis Thomas, Toledo, 5'10", 185
Draft Ace scouting report: Thomas is underrated due to his lack of size and the fact that he played in the MAC, but he has obvious NFL talent. He is every bit as explosive as the more well-known LaMichael James, but what gives him an edge over James is his vision and body control. Thomas is a impressively polished runner has the instincts and vision to run between the tackles, but the explosiveness and speed to be a home run hitter as well.
Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky, 5'7", 208
NFL Mocks scouting report: He has good speed and quickness, and is obviously a polished receiver out of the backfield who can make people miss. A fearless runner on the inside, but is most effective (or will be in the NFL) when he gets out in space. Runs low and is really slippery and tough to tackle. He doesn’t get engulfed all the time like you would expect from a short runner, because he is so determined to break that first contact. He has solid breakaway speed but is not a burner like you would expect from someone of his height. Player comparison: Poor man’s Maurice Jones-Drew.
Edwin Baker, Michigan State, 5'8", 204
Pro Football Weekly scouting report: Compactly built with an NFL body, Baker is a strong, competitive, tough back with broad appeal given his scheme versatility and pro makeup. Running skills play well in man- or zone-blocking schemes and he is capable of sharing the load in tandem or shouldering 20-plus carries if need be. Has been described as a poor man’s Ray Rice by NFL evaluators.
Jonathan Grimes, William & Mary, 5'10", 207
WTSP.com scouting report: A workhorse, Grimes was ultra impressive during the second half of his senior season while he went on to post school single-season records of 2,510 all-purpose yards, 1,431 rushing yards and 817 kickoff return yards. He's impressed scouts in the draft buildup and likely elevated himself to a draftable level. He's a north-south runner who has a decent burst after getting through the line of scrimmage. He also is strong pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Darrell Scott, USF, 6'0", 231
Pro Football Weekly scouting report: A naturally talented, underachieving flash player who has grown into a big back, Scott is best-suited as a downhill runner in a gap-blocking scheme. However, his power does not run parallel with his size, and he will have to overcome concerns regarding his makeup and intangibles.
Brandon Bolden, Ole Miss, 5'11", 221
National Football Post scouting report: A tough, productive SEC back who runs hard and can be effective when there are lanes to run through. Isn't going to create on his own in the NFL and isn't dynamic in any area of the game. Looks like a number three back at the next level.
Tauren Poole, Tennessee, 5'10", 205
Draft Ace scouting report: What you see is what you get with Poole. He doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but he’s capable of doing it all. His upside is limited and he’ll probably never be a starter at the next level, but he should develop into an adequate backup. He’s a safe mid-round pick who should be able to earn a roster spot as a 3rd running back and will also contribute on special teams.
Alfred Morris, FAU, 5'9", 219
Pro Football Weekly scouting report: Highly competitive, smart, motivated, productive, college running back lacking the speed and agility to remain there in the pros. Physical, inside, north-south running style, willingness as a blocker and strong intangibles make him ripe for a conversion to fullback. Has played both positions and could get looks for a team that employs one-back power sets.
Jonas Gray, Notre Dame, 5'10", 230
National Football Post scouting report: Looks most comfortable as a zone guy, but is limited with his initial burst and ability to make defenders miss. However, has a good feel picking his way through traffic and runs hard once he sees daylight creating yards through contact.
Davin Meggett, Maryland, 5'9", 215
National Football Post scouting report: A shorter, thick back with a strong lower half, runs low and has the quickness/acceleration to pick his way through tight areas and explode toward daylight. Lacks a great feel, will slow his feet and not look real natrual at times picking his way through traffic.
Previous Atlanta Falcons Draft Outlooks:
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.