Senior Bowl Thoughts: Running Backs

Kenneth DIxon, Senior Bowl,

The Senior Bowl is an interesting place to gather information from because it’s just that: only seniors. While these are obviously the best of the best seniors, the showcase is still missing a huge section of talented players. With that being said, here are the running backs who jumped out at me throughout the week of practice.

1. Kenyan Drake – Alabama

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The 6’1″, 210-pound running back from Alabama was one of the more intriguing prospects at the Senior Bowl because of his inexperience. While a four year player, Drake only totaled 233 carries over four years, as he was stuck behind Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, and Eddie Lacy. This season Drake averaged 5.3 yards per carry and totaled 29 receptions for 276 yards. In Senior Bowl practice however, he got plenty of run and capitalized on his opportunity. Drake showed serious toughness on inside runs and didn’t go down at first contact, while also showing real burst to the outside. So much so, that he was even compared to Reggie Bush by some scouts. Drake is thought of as being in the 7-10 range in terms of running back rankings in this year’s draft, but he was extremely impressive this week and is a guy to keep an eye on.

2. Kenneth Dixon – Louisiana Tech

Dixon is thought to be the leader of the second tier of running backs along with Arkansas’ Alex Collins. The complete opposite if Drake, Dixon was a dominant college player, amassing 87 touchdowns over his four year career. He’s dynamic in the passing game, averaging over 13 yards per reception this season along with 7 touchdowns. While Dixon didn’t necessarily jump off the page this week, he was expected to be the best back in Mobile and didn’t disappoint. He looked strong on the inside and was obviously great catching the ball out of the backfield. Dixon has pretty good size, and depending on fit, he could be an immediate contributor in the NFL. Keep an eye on the Cowboys in the early second round.

3. Tyler Ervin – San Jose State

The 5’10”, 177-pound running back has been thought of as a late day-three prospect as his lack of size and only one year of production leaves a lot to be desired. But wow did he look good. Perhaps it was the relative low expectations, but Ervin was very impressive. He was dynamic out of the backfield, showing elite quickness and good hands, but what really wowed me was his inside running ability. Ervin ran tough between the tackles, and for a Senior Bowl week dominated by defensive lineman, he was able to break some tackles on the inside. While his size most likely means he won’t be a three-down player in the NFL, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was a contributor in a committee. Great guy to take a chance on in the late rounds of a rookie draft.

4. Jonathan Williams – Arkansas

Alex Collins is thought to be the running back from Arkansas with the best pro prospects, but Williams showed pretty well during Senior Bowl week as well. Even sharing the backfield with Collins, Williams had over 1,100 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry this past season. He showed good lateral quickness and decent burst for a guy his size. While he is still a mild long shot to even make a roster, if given the opportunity Williams could surprise some people.

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