The Jet Press
Draft

2018 NFL Draft: Top 5 Running Backs

By William Schneiderhan
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs stands on the field during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs stands on the field during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs stands on the field during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs stands on the field during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The 2018 NFL Draft is only a few days away. So, let’s take a look at the top five running backs of the draft class.

We know the names, saw the combine results and now we sit on our hands as we wait in excitement for the 2018 NFL Draft to kick off in Texas on Thursday night.

Of course, the New York Jets will be looking to draft their potential franchise quarterback with the third overall pick. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t look to add any depth in the backfield.

This draft is loaded with solid, high-potential running backs that will more than likely hear their name be called in the middle rounds.

Let’s take a look and the top five running backs in this year’s draft.

COLLEGE STATION, TX – NOVEMBER 04: Kerryon Johnson #21 of the Auburn Tigers fends off Larry Pryor #11 of the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 4, 2017 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
COLLEGE STATION, TX – NOVEMBER 04: Kerryon Johnson #21 of the Auburn Tigers fends off Larry Pryor #11 of the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 4, 2017 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

5. Kerryon Johnson, Auburn

Some sites have Johnson in the top-five, while others don’t. Regardless, Johnson rounds out this list at No. 5 due to his multi-dimensional game and potential to be one of the more lethal running backs at the next level.

Johnson’s stats don’t do him as much justice as they did for the already listed players. Why? Because if you go to look his stats up you may feel inclined to be underwhelmed.

The former Tiger only had one 1,000+ yard rushing season in his three years at Auburn, and it came in his final campaign as a junior. He finished his collegiate career with 2,494 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns.

Johnson isn’t afraid of contact and he may be able to take a heavy workload in the NFL. He is the tallest running back on this list at six feet tall, and he weighs a respectable 212 pounds.

Next: 4. Nick Chubb, UGA

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Nick Chubb #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs for a 50 yard touchdown during the third quarter in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Nick Chubb #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs for a 50 yard touchdown during the third quarter in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

4. Nick Chubb, UGA

Chubb takes a backseat to Michel here, and as mentioned above it is due to the knee injury he suffered while a sophomore. Drafting a running back who has had a major injury to his knee is always a gamble, so that’s why he lands No. 4 on the list.

Although, the knee injury really didn’t slow down Chubb, as he still accumulated a monstrous 4,769 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns while at UGA. His best season came as a freshman when he ran for 1,547 yards and found the end zone 14 times as a runner.

But, Chubb, like Guice, was rarely used in the air attack, which resulted in only 361 receiving yards and four touchdowns. This is why he and Michel formed one of the most dynamic duos in college football.

Chubb’s size is very similar to Barkley. He stands an inch shorter and five pounds less than Barkley as 5-10, 225 pounds.

Next: 3. Sony Michel, UGA

ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs is tackled by Christian Miller #47 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs is tackled by Christian Miller #47 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

3. Sony Michel, UGA

Some sources seem to have Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb ranked higher than him. Michel finds himself ranked higher than Chubb here because of two reasons: 1. Michel’s running style makes him a big-play maker. 2. Chubb suffered a big knee injury in college.

So, Michel seems to have far more efficiency in his style, and teams won’t have to worry about any health issues with him. His ability to make big plays happen can be seen in his yards-per-carry average, which was 6.1 yards in four years at Georgia.

Michel missed some games in college, but for reasons that were not to the extent of Chubb’s injury. He rushed for 3,613 yards and 33 touchdowns for the Bulldogs during his career.

Michel was featured a decent amount in the passing game. He gathered 621 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Next: 2. Derrius Guice, LSU

2. Derrius Guice, LSU

Barkley is seemingly light years ahead of the rest of the running backs in this year’s class. But, Guice is still a potentially game-breaking back, and that’s why he comes in at No. 2 on the list.

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Guice’s production has gone under the radar due to LSU being out of the spotlight. However, he racked up some pretty impressive rushing numbers down in Baton Rouge.

The former Tiger finished his college career with 3,074 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns and the bulk of that production came in his sophomore and junior seasons. His downside? Very limited production as a receiver.

Guice may not be Barkley’s size, but not many players are and that is no knock on Guice. He is 5-11, 218 pounds and he is a strong runner.

Next: 1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State

GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions rushes the football against the Washington Huskies during the second half of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Nittany Lions defeated the Huskies 35-28. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions rushes the football against the Washington Huskies during the second half of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Nittany Lions defeated the Huskies 35-28. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Surprise! Well, not really. Barkley is the obvious, clear-cut No. 1 running back in this year’s draft. Actually, he may be the No. 1 player on the board.

The former Nittany Lion went off for Penn State during his time in college. He collected 3,843 rushing yards, 43 rushing touchdowns, 1,195 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns in three years.

Those numbers are insane, and his career was highlighted by a gigantic sophomore year when he rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He is dangerous as a rusher and a receiver, which is why he is so far ahead of the pack.

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Barkley is also an absolute physical specimen at 5-11, 230 pounds. His size, dominance, and potential make him the cream of the crop in the running back pool.

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