Chiefs

Rating the top running backs in the 2018 NFL Draft, with an eye on the Chiefs' needs

The KC Star’s fourth annual All-Juice Team

In preparation for this year’s NFL Draft, I’ve watched hours of tape, and during that time, some guys have stood out. This team is meant to recognize 22 prospects I like for various reasons, whether it be their effort, attitude or performance.
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In preparation for this year’s NFL Draft, I’ve watched hours of tape, and during that time, some guys have stood out. This team is meant to recognize 22 prospects I like for various reasons, whether it be their effort, attitude or performance.

Included in measurables are height, weight and 40-yard-dash time. Grades and rankings are based on film study and proprietary reporting. Grades are intended to convey a general sense of the draftee’s value, and where he might be selected.

Chiefs’ need at the position: Low. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach took advantage of the value at this position in free agency by signing two solid backs in Damien Williams and Kerwynn Williams to compete with holdovers Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West for the backup job behind NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt. Keep an eye on fullback, however; while the Chiefs re-signed veteran Anthony Sherman this offseason, the opportunity draft a cheap, talented hybrid like North Carolina State’s Jaylen Samuels or Oklahoma’s Dmitri Flowers could be too good to pass up for an offense that will have to score points in 2018.

Grading scale

7.5-7.1: Top 10 pick

7.0: 11-20

6.9: 21-32

6.8: Top half of the second

6.7: Bottom half of the second

6.6: Top half of the third

6.5: Bottom half of the third

6.4: Fourth-round pick

6.3: Fifth-round pick

6.2: Sixth-round pick

6.1: Seventh-round pick

6.0: Priority free agent

5.9: Non-prospect

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THE RANKINGS

Running backs

1. SAQUON BARKLEY, Penn State

Measurables: 6-0, 234, 4.4

Bio: Three-year starter who rushed 217 times for 1,271 yards (5.9 ypc) and 18 touchdowns in 2017. Also caught 54 passes for 632 yards (11.7 ypc) and three touchdowns. Two fumbles. Declared for the draft after his true junior season.

Consensus: Prototype height-weight-speed prospect with wiggle, receiving chops, outstanding production and a reputation for being a great leader. You can nitpick his production in 2017, and he doesn’t exactly run over people, but he’s arguably the draft’s best prospect.

Grade: 7.5

2. DERRIUS GUICE, Louisiana State

Measurables: 5-11, 224, 4.49

Bio: One-year starter who rushed 237 times for 1,251 yards (5.3 ypc) and 11 touchdowns in 2017. Also caught 18 passes for 124 yards (6.8 ypc) and two touchdowns. Zero fumbles. Declared for the draft after his true junior season.

Consensus: Possesses plus vision, power and speed and could be unstoppable at the second level behind a good offensive line; he’s been banged up in his career, so whichever team that drafts him will have to be comfortable with that (and his average receiving ability).

Grade: 6.8

3. RONALD JONES II, Southern California

Measurables: 5-11, 205, 4.48

Bio: Two-year starter who rushed 261 times for 1,550 yards (5.9 ypc) and 19 touchdowns in 2017. Also caught 14 passes for 187 yards (13.4 ypc) and one touchdown. One fumble. Declared for the draft after his true junior season.

Consensus: Upright running style could hurt his long-term durability, but Jones possesses elite burst and wiggle and is a home run threat who at times looks like a younger version of former Chiefs great Jamaal Charles.

Grade: 6.8

4. NICK CHUBB, Georgia

Measurables: 5-11, 227, 4.52

Bio: Four-year starter who rushed 223 times for 1,345 yards (6.0 ypc) and 15 touchdowns in 2017. Also caught four passes for 30 yards (7.5 ypc) and zero touchdowns. Three fumbles.

Consensus: Strong, productive and powerful runner with good burst who must answer questions about his vision; doesn’t have a ton of production as a receiver.

Grade: 6.7

5. SONY MICHEL, Georgia

Measurables: 5-11, 214, 4.54

Bio: Was always a backup. Rushed 156 times for 1,227 yards (7.9 ypc) and 16 touchdowns in 2017. Also caught nine passes for 96 yards (10.7 ypc) and one touchdown. One fumble.

Consensus: Explosive runner with a great frame who could be even better in the NFL; possesses outstanding burst and vision and the power needed to thrive in a zone scheme but needs to improve as a blocker and answer questions about his durability.

Grade: 6.7



Others to watch:Josh Adams, Notre Dame; Kalen Ballage, Arizona State; Royce Freeman, Oregon; Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State; Kerryon Johnson, Auburn; John Kelly, Tennessee; Rashaad Penny, San Diego State; Bo Scarbrough, Alabama; Akrum Wadley, Iowa; Mark Walton, Miami (Fla.)

Fullbacks

1. JAYLEN SAMUELS, North Carolina State

Measurables: 6-0, 225, 4.54

Bio: Three-year starter who rushed 77 times for 403 yards (5.2 ypc) and 12 touchdowns in 2017. Also caught 76 passes for 597 yards (7.9 ypc) and four touchdowns.

Consensus: Dynamic H-back/fullback type who has an undeniable nose for the end zone (47 career touchdowns) and unique overall versatility; can be a super weapon for a smart, creative offensive coordinator.

Grade: 6.5

North Carolina State FB Jaylen Samuels highlights from the 2017 season.

2. DMITRI FLOWERS, Oklahoma

Measurables: 6-2, 248, 4.83

Bio: Four-year starter who rushed 14 times for 22 yards (1.6 ypc) and four touchdowns in 2017. Also caught 26 passes for 464 yards (17.8 ypc) and five touchdowns.

Consensus: Has some legitimate juice as a pass receiver out of the backfield and is an adequate blocker.

Grade: 6.3

Others to watch: Nick Bawden, San Diego State; Khalid Hill, Michigan; Ryan Nall, Oregon State; Austin Ramesh, Wisconsin

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