Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

A look at this year's running back class.

Who are the best running backs in this year's draft class?

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> READ: TOP 5 RUNNING BACKSLeading the pack:

Georgia's Todd Gurley and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon are expected to be the first two running backs selected in this year's draft and may be a step ahead of the other players in this year's running back class. Gurley ran for almost 1,000 in five games in 2014, but missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL. Gordon was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2014 and won the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation's top running back.

The second tier: Any number of running backs could be the third selected after Gurley and Gordon. Many analysts believe that Boise State's Jay Ajayi will be that player. In three seasons, Ajayi put together one of the best careers in Boise State history. He is currently No. 2 in team history in rushing touchdowns and 200-yard games, No. 3 in touchdowns and 100-yard rushing games and No. 4 in rushing yards and yards per carry. In 2014, he totaled more than 1,800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards, becoming the first player in FBS history to do so. Ajayi might fall into the second round. Also keep an eye on Miami's Duke Johnson, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah and Indiana's Tevin Coleman.


Mid-round picks:** There will likely be several quality running backs available in rounds three and four. Among them are Michigan State's Jeremy Langford and Alabama's TJ Yeldon. At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Langford ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, the fastest among running backs. He accumulated nearly 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in four seasons in East Lansing. Because of the talent in Alabama's backfield, Yeldon never got the type of workload that Landford did, but had a successful career none-the-less. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry during his three seasons and recorded nearly 500 receiving yards. Also keep an eye on Northern Iowa's David Johnson, South Carolina's Mike Davis, UCS's Javorius Allen, Mississippi State's Josh Robinson and Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne.

Sleepers: North Dakota State's John Crockett might go undrafted. And if he does, whoever signs him could be finding a diamond in the rough. He shared time in North Dakota State's backfield during his first two seasons, but ran for 1,000 yards anyway. As a full-time starter in 2014, he ran for 1,994 yards and added nearly 500 more yards catching passes out of the backfield. He finished his career as one of two players in school history to accumulate more than 5,000 total yards.  Also keep an eye on Auburn's Corey Grant, Texas' Malcolm Brown and Yale's Tyler Varga.

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