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2010 Rookie Class: The Running Backs
This is the second installment in a position-by-position series reviewing the top Fantasy prospects selected in this year's draft. Today: The Running Backs.
(You can review the 2010 QB Preview here.)
1) Ryan Mathews (SDG) -- The Chargers have not run effectively as a team since LaDainian Tomlinson seemed to hit the wall in 2008. By aggressively moving up in the first round of the draft, the team thinks they have changed that with the addition of Mathews. He brings good size and strength to run inside the tackles and then has the burst to be a threat once he gets past the first level of the defense. While he does not possess exceptional speed, he does have enough to be a threat to get to the corner when going wide and he plays faster than he times. He was not often used as a receiver at Fresno State, but he does seem to have good hands. Mathews has very good balance and the only ding on him is his tendency to get injured.
2) Ben Tate (HOU) -- The Texans struggled last season to find a running back who would deliver consistently for them. By selecting Tate in the second round, they have made a statement that he will be given every opportunity to be their primary ballcarrier this year. Tate was one of the stars of the NFL combine where his size/speed combination opened a lot of eyes. At his best when running north and south, he has not yet touched what his potential can be. He's tough enough to run through arm tackles and though he has excellent timed speed, that does not translate to him being big-play back on the field. Tate is a good short-yardage back who has underrated receiving skills. He'll need to insure he protects the ball at the next level.
3) C.J. Spiller (BUF) -- The Bills were not lacking for needs in this year's draft, but they were unable to pass on the play-making skills of Spiller with their Top-10 selection in spite of numerous greater needs than running back. The most special back in this year's draft class, Spiller has amazing speed and elusiveness that make him a threat to score any time he has the ball in his hands. He can get to the corner on any defense and while he is by no means a power back, he does possess the strength to run it up the gut when asked to do so. Spiller also demonstrates a lot of patience while waiting for holes to open in front of him as well as the moves to make defenders miss. Not a workhorse type of back, he'll be featured in the passing and return game as well as weekly highlight shows.
4) Jahvid Best (DET) -- After selecting what should be a dominant defensive tackle with the second pick of the draft, the Lions moved back into the bottom of the first round to select one of the few speed backs available in this draft. Best features excellent speed along with tremendous balance and rare cutting ability which combine to make him a terror in the open field. He has the hands and burst to line up wide if needed where he'll take advantage of his speed and route-running skills. He is willing to run inside if called upon, but he does not have the strength or bulk to do this on a consistent basis. Ultimately his success may lie with his ability to remain on the field as he has had issues with injuries over his collegiate career.
5) Montario Hardesty (CLE) -- No team lacked talent at the skill positions as much as the Browns did. They addressed one of those needs with the selection of Hardesty late in the second round. Not as naturally talented as the runners above him on this list, Hardesty is your classic one-cut runner who won't blow you away with speed, but he will give you maximum effort every time he touches the ball. He has good vision and has good acceleration and quickness in small spaces to go with very good balance. Though he won't be used often as a receiver, he does have nice hands and his pass-blocking skills will be appreciated by the offense. Already a veteran of three knee surgeries, Hardesty still left Tennessee with the second-most carries in school history.