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NFL Combine Recap: Running Backs

Posted Mar 4, 2014

Combine Recap is a positional review of players ranked as top offensive prospects by NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock in order of his pre-combine lists.

2014 NFL Combine Recaps: Offensive Tackles | Guards | Centers | Tight Ends | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Defensive Tackles | Defensive Ends | Linebackers | Cornerbacks | Safeties

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State, Sr.

In college: Hyde was named Big Ten Running Back of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten after rushing for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns on 208 rush attempts in 2013. Hyde averaged 138.3 rushing yards per game and finished the season with nine straight games with more than 100 rushing yards. He added 16 receptions for 147 yards and three TD catches. Hyde was named second-team All-Big Ten in 2012 after rushing 185 times for 970 yards and 16 TDs with eight catches for 51 yards and a score in 10 games. He rushed 106 times for 566 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games in 2011 and played in seven games as a freshman in 2010.

On running backs being drafted later than in the past: “Yeah, it does kind of bother me. I feel like they are down on us. They don’t think we are capable of doing what we know we can do,” Hyde said. “They are kind of just downplaying us: ‘We can wait to get ya’ll.’ There are guys drafted in the late rounds that are having a lot of success in the league right now … so it’s changing the GMs’ minds.”

Quotable: “I would say my running style is violent. Not too many times am I trying to make you miss. I am trying to run through you, trying to get the yards we need. Sometimes I will make you miss because you expect me to run through you. That’s how I describe it.”


Jeremy Hill, LSU, So.

In college: Hill opted to declare for the NFL Draft with two years of college eligibility remaining after setting an SEC record with 6.9 yards per carry in 2013 when he rushed for 1,401 yards (second-most in a season in LSU history) and 16 touchdowns on 203 carries. Hill averaged 116.8 rushing yards per game and had seven games with 100 or more rushing yards. He added 18 receptions for 181 yards and was named second-team All-SEC. In 2012, Hill became the first freshman to lead LSU in rushing since 2003 (Justin Vincent) by gaining 755 yards and scoring 12 rushing TDs.

On the role of “big running backs” in the NFL: “Yeah, the big backs this season have had a lot of success. I watched Marshawn Lynch and LeGarrette Blount and those guys be successful,” Hill said. “Of course Adrian Peterson is successful year-in, year-out. Big backs will always have a place in the NFL, especially in the playoffs. Eddie Lacy is emerging. You really need to run the ball in cold weather situations. Always will be a place for big backs in those pressure situations and goal-line situations, and being able to matchup with linebackers on blitz pickup. Sometimes it’s tougher for those small backs to pick up those linebackers.”

Quotable: “You have to go into draft day being open to anything, even being undrafted. I’m going into draft day with nothing expected,” Hill said. “Just being blessed and honored if any team takes me. I don’t have high expectations, just doing everything I’m supposed to do right now and trying to make it as tough as possible for those GMs and coaches.”


Bishop Sankey, Washington, Jr.

In college: Sankey opted to declare for the NFL Draft with one year of college eligibility remaining after rushing for 1,870 yards (fourth-most in NCAA) and 20 touchdowns on 327 attempts. He added 304 yards and a TD on 28 receptions in 2013 when he was named second-team All-American and first-team All-Pac 12. The rushing yardage eclipsed Corey Dillon’s single-season school record of 1,695 yards in 1996, and Sankey had at least one rushing TD in every game of 2013. Sankey rushed for 1,439 yards and 16 TDs in 2012 after becoming a starter in the second game of the season. He played at running back and on special teams in 12 of 13 games as a freshman in 2011.

On patterning his game after others: “Well, recently one of the younger guys I’ve been modeling my game after and kind of been studying is Giovani Bernard. I think we're kind of similar in stature and I think players have a tendency to do that — just watch other guys that are similar to them. Other than that, no one in particular, really. I kind of just watch different guys each Sunday and try to take tips from their game and add them to my own.”

Quotable: “I made the decision because I felt like it was time for me to take my chances at the next level. I feel I’m fully capable of making an impact in this league and that's one of the reasons why I declared.”


Andre Williams, Boston College, Sr.

In college: Williams finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, won the Doak Walker Award (top running back) and was selected first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC after becoming the 16th FBS player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season in 2013. Williams set school records for attempts (355) and yards (2,177), which was boosted by an ACC-record 339 yards rushing against N.C. State. Williams’ production as a senior nearly doubled his stats from the previous two seasons combined. He had 584 rushing yards and four TDs on 130 carries in 2012 and 517 yards and four scores on 124 carries in 2011. Williams began his college career with 461 yards and two TDs on 95 carries in 2010.

On what he likes to do off the field: “I like to read, I like to write. I’m actually working on a book. I like to think. I’m a deep thinker. I like to be around my family, my older brother. I have a couple dogs. I like to take care of them. I like to cook.” And on the book: “It’s called, A King, a Queen and a Conscience. If I had to classify it, I’d call it a philosophical memoir. I’m just pointing out the significant points in my life that shaped the way I think about the world.”

Quotable: “I think I was inspired the most by Adrian Peterson. He’s just a violent runner. He knows how to use his arms to get yards after contact. People have compared me to Earl Campbell and Jim Brown. I would say … I never got to see Earl run or Jim Brown run in person. But I did get to see Adrian Peterson run, Marshawn Lynch run, and I really admire their run styles. In terms of me, I would say I’m a downhill runner. I’m best when my shoulders are square to the line. I make a quick cut, I get up field. I use my shoulders and hands as weapons. I like to punish the defense, punish the DBs. I like to finish in the fourth quarter.”


Tre Mason, Auburn, Jr.

In college: Mason finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting as a junior in 2013 after breaking Bo Jackson’s single-season record with 1,816 rushing yards to lead the SEC. Mason scored 23 TDs (third-most in the NCAAs) on 317 carries and added 12 receptions for 163 yards and a score in 2013. Mason rushed for 1,002 yards and eight TDs on 171 carries in 2012. He led the SEC with 26.4 yards per kickoff return as a freshman in 2011.

On if he has musical talent since he is son of Vincent “DJ Maseo” Mason from Hip-Hop group De La Sol: “Not at all. That's my dad’s forte, that’s not me. … I love music, but me making it? It’s not a pretty sight.”

Quotable: I feel like I’m the best running back in this draft class because I broke Bo Jackson’s rushing record in the season. If he was considered one of the best to do it and I broke his, then I feel like I should be the No. 1 running back in this draft. … We played against the top competition and I showed my skill against that. I should be the No. 1 running back in this draft.”

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