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2018 NFL Draft: Top 10 running backs — Saquon Barkley and who else?

Could the Giants find their next “franchise” running back?

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

As we make our way through the marathon that is the lead-up to the 2018 NFL Draft, it is time to take our first look at the running back class.

The 2017 running back class was one of the best in recent memory, producing several instant difference-making rookies, such as Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette. This year’s class is expected to rival that one in terms of talent, and boasts one of the most exciting running backs to come out in recent memory.

New York Giants have a couple of young running backs who have shown promise in Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman. However, neither of them have yet to inspire fear in defenses. If the Giants look to this year’s talented class to supplement their offense, these backs could be high on their list.

  1. Saquon Barkley (Penn State) - Was there any question? Barkley is not only the top running back in the draft, but the premier offensive weapon. He is clean on and off the field, and is able to contribute as a rusher, receiver, and returner.
  2. Sony Michel (Georgia) - I have always had the two Georgia backs ranked closely, and I still do. Michel moved ahead of Chubb when Pat Shurmur became the Giants’ head coach. His (Michel’s) agility and receiving ability would fit a bit better in Shurmur’s offense.
  3. Derrius Guice (LSU) - Guice is a solid receiver, and an excellent pure runner. He was slowed by a nagging injury but when healthy, he is a difference maker with a powerful, physical, and angry game. [Prospect profile]
  4. Nick Chubb (Georgia) - Chubb is a worthy heir to Todd Gurley. He has size, power, explosiveness, and speed to break tackles and pick up huge chunks of yardage. He appears to be “all the way” back from his devastating knee injury, but it should still be considered by NFL teams.
  5. Ronald Jones II (USC) - Jones is an excellent all-around running back. He runs with great feel, agility, and burst, as well as solid hands in the passing game. In another year Jones might be higher on this list, but being in the middle is no slight to him.
  6. Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) - The most productive player in college football last year, and the only player to produce more all-purpose yards than Saquon Barkley. Like Barkley, Penny is dangerous as a rusher, receiver, and returner, and has a great blend size and speed. [Prospect profile]
  7. Kerryon Johnson (Auburn) - Johnson is a hard-nosed, bruising, bell-cow of a running back, and was the driving force behind Auburn’s offense. While he didn’t get the acclaim of Georgia, LSU, or Alabama’s running backs, Johnson lead the SEC in rushing yards. He is also a capable receiver with 24 catches (2 TDs) in 2017.
  8. John Kelly (Tennessee) - Kelly was a surprise declaration for the 2018 draft, but one that will be welcome by teams. He is a bit undersized at 6’0”, 205 pounds, but has a natural feel as a runner and receiver, as well as an impressive burst, to carve up defenses for hunks of yardage.
  9. Josh Adams (Notre Dame) - One of the biggest running backs in the draft, Adams is a terror in the open field. While not as big as former Giant Brandon Jacobs, his blend of power and open-field speed conjures images of the big back. He doesn’t have the explosive burst of some other backs, but once he hits full speed, he can run away from defenders big enough to tackle him and over ones fast enough to catch him. He lead the nation in runs of at least 59 yards in 2017.
  10. Jaylen Samuels (North Carolina State) - Samuels is an interesting case. Though he is a running back, he has done most of his production as a receiver, leading the Wolfpack in receptions in each of the last two years. With receiving ability an ever-growing facet of running back play in the NFL, Samuels will intrigue as the draft process rolls on.