Three 2018 Draft Prospects To Watch: Running Back

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There was hope that with the additions to the offensive line in the offseason and having a healthy Ameer Abdullah at running back, the Lions would be able to have an effective rushing attack this season. So far that hasn’t been the case.

Abdullah has shown promise at times but hasn’t been able to consistently produce. Theo Riddick is a very good receiver out of the back field but struggles when asked to take handoffs. Zach Zenner or Dwayne Washington are not the future at running back either.

2018 Draft Class- Running Back

This draft class looks like it will be a strong one at running back. There are both stars and depth.

The guys that will be featured are Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, LSU’s Derrius Guice and USC’s Ronald Jones II.

Saquon Barkley- Penn State

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There are many people that believe that Saquon Barkley is the best player in college football. It’s easy to see why when you watch him play. His career got off to a fast start. In 2015 as a true freshman he rushed for 1,076 yards on 182 carries and seven scores. Then as a sophomore he logged 272 carries for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s on track for a huge season this year too.

Barkley can do everything well. He’s explosive, capable of scoring from anywhere at any time. The 5’11” 229 lbs. junior has excellent vison and patience which is something is rare for a college running back. Defenders have a really tough time bringing down Barkley is the open-field where he has the ability to run them over, juke them out or just jump over them.

This season Penn State has used Barkley more as a receiver as well. He is the teams leading receiver. They’ve also used him as a kick returner on occassion and he’s already taken one of those back for a touchdown.

There are not many things about Barkley to complain about. One thing is he could improve as a pass protector. This can be said for almost every running back out of college so it’s not a major concern.

Derrius Guice- LSU

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Derrius Guice, a 5’11” 218 lbs. junior,  is another running back prospect with star potential. He exploded onto the scene last year while filling in for Leonard Fournette. He took 183 carries for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He runs with a nice blend of power and quickness. He has good vision to find holes and he hits them hard. Guice runs tough and routinely breaks through arm tackles and finishes runs falling forward. He also is an elusive player in the open field and breaks off big runs often.

A few concerns about Guice is that he isn’t used much as a receiver. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he capable but he just doesn’t get many opportunies in the passing game. He’ll have to show whether or not he can be a threat out of the backfield during the draft process.

Ronald Jones II- USC

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Jones, a 6’0” 200 lbs. junior, isn’t talked about nearly as much as Barkley or Guice, partly because he isn’t quite on their level as a prospect and partly because he gets overshadowed by USC quarterback Sam Darnold.  Although Darnold recieves more attention, Jones has probably been USC’s best offensive player so far this season.

The USC running back has a lot of the qualities needed to be a star in the NFL. He has great speed and uses it to break off chunk runs often. He also can use jump-cuts to make guys miss in the open field.

For a guy who is known for speed, Jones still runs with some power and definetly doesn’t go down easily. He is an effective runner between the tackles and can also use his speed on outside runs.

Like Guice, Jones hasn’t shown much as a receiver. It’s something he definetly needs to work on because someone with his big play ability would be a major asset as a receiver out of the backfield.

I really hope you enjoyed the article! Follow me on twitter @CHayes95 and join the discussion on the Lions subreddit!

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About the Author

Cory Hayes
I attend Central Michigan University, I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sport Management. I am a junior. I am from Marysville, MI. I love following sports, both professional and collegiate. I follow the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers very closely, and the college team that I choose to cheer for is Ohio State.