Draft Daily: How do top RB prospects stack up post-combine?

Following the NFL Scouting Combine, Mike Renner takes a look at the top running back prospects.

| 3 months ago
Leonard Fournette

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Draft Daily: How do top RB prospects stack up post-combine?

Pro Football Focus’ Draft Daily will hit on a number of NFL Draft-related topics including recent news, scouting reports, PFF draft takes, and much more on a frequent basis.

We are living in a post-combine world, and as much as I hate it, the results in Indianapolis drastically changed my opinions on a number of prospects. I wish I could go back to a pre-combine world and watch every single prospect, but it’s too late for that. With all the numbers posted, though, here are my biggest takeaways.

What can we make of the running back class?

After the combine workouts, the slotting at the top of this running back class becomes even more difficult. Leonard Fournette ran a blazing 40 (4.51) for a man weighing in at 240 pounds, but he refused to do the 3-cone and short-shuttle, meaning they likely won’t be anything special. Dalvin Cook participated in all the drills, and disappointed in legitimately every one. Then there’s Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey who put up superb numbers, but were seen as a tier below Cook and Fournette. Kamara’s vert (39.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-11) led all running backs, while McCaffrey’s 3-cone (6.57) was the second-fastest in the past 12 years.

The wildcard, though, remains Joe Mixon who has as much talent as any of the aforementioned players, and put up testing numbers at the Oklahoma pro day to match any back in this class. At 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, he ran a 4.47 40 with a 35-inch vertical and 9-foot-10 broad jump. At this point, it becomes a pick-your-poison scenario, depending on what a team wants at the position:

  • Gap scheme power pack: Leonard Fournette
  • Scheme-diverse, every-down back: Dalvin Cook
  • Swiss army knife running/receiving threat: Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara
  • Do-it-all fan-base alienator: Joe Mixon 

I’m still not taking a tight end in the first round.

Colleague Steve Palazzolo called me crazy last week for my take that I would never take a running back or tight end in the first round. After the combine, I couldn’t be more confident in that stance. Every single top-end TE in the draft put up freakish workout numbers. So why take O.J. Howard in the top 20 when George Kittle—who ran a 4.52, recorded an 11-foot broad jump, and can block in-line—will likely be staring at you on Day 2? Why draft a freakishly-explosive tight end like David Njoku in the first round when an even more explosive option like Bucky Hodges will be there on the wrap? The take stands.

The 3-cone matters.

Consider this my campaign to emphasize 3-cone times as much as 40-yard dashes. Watching NFL Network’s coverage of the combine over the weekend, I didn’t see a single 3-cone drill on the telecast. After the running backs completed the 3-cone Friday afternoon, it took until mid-day Saturday to even get results. Never mind the fact that it’s easily the most important drill at a number of positions, it would also make for great television as heavier linemen slip and slide trying to make hairpin turns. Please NFL, give the 3-cone the love it deserves.

PFF Draft Podcast

Every mock draft written to this point is about to be blown up, as the opening of free agency will have an immediate impact on the draft plans of every team. Get a head start on Thursday evening’s action by learning everything there is to know about day one of the football new year with Senior Analysts Mike Renner and Sam Monson. The guys will go over their most overrated and underrated free agents, as well as repeatedly forget the fact the Chargers now play in Los Angeles.

Be sure to download and subscribe to the PFF Podcast from your favorite provider.

PFF Draft Pass

PFF Draft Pass has officially launched, and can be accessed by clicking here. Users can now view PFF signature stat breakdowns by position, and will soon have access to expanded scouting profiles with grades and signature stats for each top prospect. In addition, PFF Draft Pass users will have access to the PDF version of the PFF Draft Pass in the coming weeks.

Sign up for PFF Draft Pass for exclusive stats and analysis of the top 250 NFL Draft prospects.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • ClevelandPOWND

    Do-it-all fan-base alienator: Joe Mixon
    Rude. Just rude. And funny. Boat loads of funny.

    • Occasionally interested

      Well rounded back: Runs, catches, alienates fan base. Baltimore has a hard decision to make

  • Panthers/Truth

    The Combine coverage didn’t include over half of the players 10 yard splits, and they still haven’t been posted.

    • 42DAHA

      I’m also awaiting these times