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2013 NFL Draft: Eddie Lacy sits atop running back rankings

With the 2013 NFL Draft set for April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NFL.com draft analyst Josh Norris is identifying the top prospects available at every position. Today, he presents an overview of the best running backs. For a complete list of the rest of the positions, click here.

1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama: Some teams likely have been annoyed with Lacy's pre-draft process, but he will hold a workout for NFL teams on April 11. He has a great blend of size, power and speed to finish off runs and always seems to pick up those extra few yards. Projection: Top 50

2. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina: Bernard made play after play as a runner, receiver and returner. The UNC product's biggest impact initially might be in the passing game. Bernard's short steps and smooth cuts allow him to make defenders miss; however, I wish he could gain a few extra yards after engaging contact. Projection: Second round

3. Andre Ellington, Clemson: The lean runner is at his best behind a slanting line, reading lanes and planting to head upfield on one cut. Ellington has good long speed and sticks close to his blockers, but don't overlook his ability as a willing pass protector. Projection: Second round

4. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA: Admittedly, I wasn't a huge fan of Franklin prior to this season, but my evaluation quickly changed. Like Ellington, Franklin boasts outstanding straight-line speed and great vision to find back-side lanes. And once he gets to the second level, Franklin makes tacklers miss with shifty hips. Projection: Second round

5. Christine Michael, Texas A&M: Perhaps the most naturally talented runner in the entire draft, Michael dealt with injuries and wound up in Kevin Sumlin's doghouse in 2012. On the field, though, there are no issues with Michael's game, as he runs with an aggressive mindset. Projection: Third round

6. Dennis Johnson, Arkansas: Not every runner in this class can be a feature back. Johnson shines on passing downs, showing a lot of comfort in space as a receiver -- his short, choppy steps keep defenders guessing. He does need to fix the fumbling issues. Projection: Fifth round

7. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt: Like Johnson, Stacy specializes in one thing: beating first contact. There were plenty of runs during which Stacy took the type of backfield hit that would have forced many other runners to take a loss, but Stacy consistently whooped those attempts, refusing to go down. Projection: Fifth round

8. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina: Lattimore's injury history is obviously cause for concern. Even before his latest ailment, I didn't see the same runner in 2012 as I did in the early portions of 2011, prior to his first injury. He projects best in a decisive, one-cut, zone-blocking scheme that would allow him to get upfield quickly. Projection: Fourth round

9. Montee Ball, Wisconsin: This might sound odd, but Ball actually improved his game in 2012 compared to prior seasons. He wasn't given as much room to operate last season, thanks to less-talented blockers, but Ball's vision allowed him to find alleys and pick up good chunks of yards. Projection: Third round

Follow Josh Norris on Twitter @JoshNorris.

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