The reported devaluation of the running back position has, in my opinion, been greatly exaggerated.
Although runners are definitely receiving fewer carries, the overwhelming majority of NFL teams are incorporating the running back into the passing game to take advantage of mismatches in space. This trend has certainly altered the job description of the position, leading scouts to covet running backs with the ability to contribute as a runner and receiver from the backfield. Based on this premise, the name certain to generate a ton of buzz leading up to the draft is West Virginia RB Charles Sims.
A 6-foot, 213-pound senior, Sims is the most versatile running back in the college game, with a set of skills that should make him a nightmare to defend at the next level. He is a smooth, fluid runner on the edges but possesses the size and strength to grind effectively between the tackles. Those traits are enough to make him an effective player in any offense, but it is his superb receiving skills that will make him an offensive coordinator's dream at the next level.
Sims capably runs every route in the book with grace and precision and displays receiver-like hands on the perimeter. He is a natural playmaker in the passing game on screens and option routes, which makes it easy to get him touches in the game plan without burdening him with a heavy workload as a runner.
Studying Sims' game throughout the fall, I envision him having a Matt Forte-like impact in the pro game. He has the ability to churn out 100-yard rushing games, but crafty offensive coordinators will take advantage of his versatile skills to make him a dynamic backfield weapon capable of tallying 100-plus scrimmage yards (combination of rushing and receiving yards) on a weekly basis.