With rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III
and Russell Wilson
leading their respective NFL teams to the playoffs and fellow first-year standout Luke Kuechly
leading the league in tackles, it is more obvious than ever the immediate impact rookies can make in today's NFL.
The first (and best) opportunity NFL teams, media and the public will have to see the best of the 2013 draft class kicks off in less than two weeks with the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Inside the walls of Lucas Oil Stadium, the 333 college prospects ranked highest by league scouts will be poked, prodded, tested and questioned, helping teams set their draft boards in preparation for the April draft.
Going position by position until the Combine formally begins Feb. 21, NFLDraftScout.com explores the top storylines.
2013 running backs
| Lacy's burst, balance and power could push him to the top of the position -- especially if he runs well in Indianapolis. (USA Today Sports Images)
Though the draft is still more than two months away, by now most casual NFL fans have read or heard that the 2013 quarterback class is lacking in the top-shelf talent of recent years. What they may not realize yet is that the running back crop
is similarly lacking in blue-chip prospects.
It has been exactly 50 years since the NFL last saw a first round of their draft end without a running back having been selected, but that is precisely what Dane Brugler and I are projecting in our updated mock drafts
Ask five scouts the name of the top running back in the 2013 draft and you are likely to get five different responses. Alabama's Eddie Lacy
, North Carolina's Giovani Bernard
, Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle
and Wisconsin's Montee Ball
are each favorites of some. Prior to his horrific leg injury, South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore
had ranked at the top of the list for many others.
With a class as convoluted as this one, the Combine should make for great drama. A few hundredths of a second in this event or that could mean the difference between being the first or fourth (or lower) running back selected in April.
Considerig recent history -- with Alfred Morris
, DeMarco Murray
, LeSean McCoy
each drafted No. 53 overall or later over the past five years -- that doesn't mean backs can't be successful in the NFL if drafted into the right system.