Richardson paces RBs; Miller could sneak into first round

I spent part of this past week watching tape of some of the best offensive players in the 2012 NFL Draft. I made a few notes along the way. I already shared my list of the top five quarterbacks, so let's tackle the best running backs next:

1. Trent Richardson, Alabama. He is a complete back. He can run inside with power and strength. He has good vision and quick-cut ability to get through the hole. He has the speed to get outside. He can catch the ball and has the foot quickness to get open. He also blocks well in pass protection, which is rare for a RB in college. In any draft year, including this one, he would be rated as one of the top five players in the country.

Note: There is a clear difference between Richardson and the next group of backs. If you ask a team, I am sure you will get different opinions on how to rank the following backs.

2. Lamar Miller, Miami. His best asset is his speed. I timed him in the 40-yard dash at an average time of 4.40 seconds, and he plays fast in the games. He shows instincts to run inside and quick-cut ability in the hole. He has "jitterbug" feet, and is not a power back inside. His biggest negative is he loses his balance too easily. He has the ability to get outside. He shows good acceleration to the corner and can make big plays. Miller was not used much in the passing game, but he caught the ball well in his pro day workout. He will need to improve as a blocker. I see him as a late-first to early second-round pick.

3. Doug Martin, Boise State. He is a solid back. I like his size at 223 pounds. He runs hard inside with vision and acceleration through the hole. He has strong legs. He has some ability to get to the corner, but his best asset on outside running plays is his ability to know when to cut it upfield. I did not see him catch many balls in college, but at the NFL Scouting Combine I thought he caught it very well. Martin is a good back with no outstanding trait. He is not a home-run threat, more of a move-the-chains type of back. His best asset is his instincts. I see him as a second- to third-round pick.'s Mock Draft Central

With the combine now in the rearview, analysts unveil their attempts at projecting how Round 1 will go on April 26. More ...

4. David Wilson, Virginia Tech. I struggled evaluating Wilson. I am concerned about his size (206 pounds) to be a full-time back and that impacts my thinking on his ranking. A fine athlete whose best attributes are speed, agility and balance -- all good things. His best asset as an inside runner is his vision and ability to be decisive on his cuts. He can put his foot in the ground and go. He does not break tackles and has some fumble issues. He is more effective running to the outside. He can get to the corner and accelerate upfield. He caught the ball well and was effective running screens. I have him rated in the second to third rounds.

5. LaMichael James, Oregon. He has exceptional speed and quickness. He can make big plays. He is a one-dimensional runner. He is not effective as an inside runner, except on the draw. He plays small. He won't be effective in the NFL as an inside runner. He catches the ball well and is effective on screens. To me, he is limited as a pro back because of his size. I see him as a third- or fourth-round pick as a situational player.

Follow Charley Casserly on Twitter @CharleyCasserly.

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