The Top 5 Running Backs Of The 2016 NFL Draft

The 2015 NFL Draft is barely in the books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make our way-too-early predictions for next year’s proceedings. While Todd Gurley and Marcus Mariota ended the drought of running backs being drafted in the first round, these next five rushers are hoping to join them next year:

5) Derrick Green, Michigan Wolverines

Green, who will be a junior next year, was the starting running back at the beginning of the season for the Wolverines, but missed the last half of the year with a broken clavicle. He recorded 471 yards and three touchdowns through six games last year on an impressive 5.7 yards a carry, and is the early favorite to start again this year.

The former five-star recruit is a powerful running at 5’11″, 227 lbs., and is the most like the running backs new head coach Jim Harbaugh is used to. Green only had one game with more than 15 carries last season – he should see a MUCH heavier workload in 2015.

4) Shock Linwood, Baylor Bears

Baylor will have a new starting quarterback, and Linwood will make that transition MUCH easier for whoever takes over. He ran for 1,252 yards and 16 scores in 2014, and should only put up better numbers as he gets more opportunities. His speed, quickness, and pass-catching ability will make him an effective NFL player, particularly as a change-of-pace back.

3) James Conner, Pittsburgh Panthers

Many thought Conner would enter the 2015 NFL Draft after he finished seventh in the nation with 1,765 rushing yards and was third with 26 rushing touchdowns, but he decided to return. He's poised for another successful season this year, and his size and strength has scouts drooling.

2) Derrick Henry, Alabama Crimson Tide

Henry averaged 5.8 yards per carry while running for 990 yards with 11 touchdowns, and he should be in store for a huge season in 2015 with T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper in the NFL. However, scouts are more intrigued by his elite combination of size (6'3", 241 lbs.), power, and speed.

1) Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State Buckeyes

No one finished last season stronger than Elliott, arguably the breakout star of Ohio State’s title run. A junior in 2015, Elliott will benefit from a very similar offensive line (just one senior started in ’14) and the promotion of Ed Warriner – a line/run game specialist – to offensive coordinator. In Ohio State’s last four games of the 2014 season, Elliott rushed for 817 yards and 10 touchdowns. If he can carry that momentum into next year, he’ll be a lock to be a first-round pick.

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