I have seen some people use the word consensus when it comes to the top running back in the 2014 NFL Draft. With all due respect, I have seen any number of different backs as the top one from draft analysts all over the place. The only thing that is a consensus is that there is not one back that is the clear top dog in this class. Much of it comes down to what style of player different people like.
For me, Bishop Sankey is the top guy from what I have seen. He does it all for me. Sankey is a great runner with natural instincts, good pass catcher out of the backfield and an effective blocker. On top of that, he should only get better as he continues to add strength.
I have seen some who like Carlos Hyde as the top back. Big, strong, north and south runner who can be incredibly difficult to bring to the ground. Lache Seastrunk and Tre Mason are the most gifted pure runners in the draft that have shown little when it comes to doing anything else. I cannot really argue with anyone having any of these backs as their top guy. Ka’Deem Carey? I could argue that one.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl only served to underline this overall point. For many, Charles Sims was the top back participating with Hyde opting not to play, which is a decision that made little sense to me. Hyde could have been side by side with these backs and been just as athletic but at 235-240lbs, which would have only helped him in the draft process.
Getting back to Sims, I thought he was more of a Donald Brown type of back. Teams would be happy to have him, because he is a good blocker and effective as a receiver, but not a dynamic running threat in my view. I thought Antonio Andrews had the better week and really answered some questions that I had with him, namely as a blocker. He showed he could do it and do it at a high level. David Fluellen, to me, was a better runner than Sims.
Lorenzo Taliaferro was the best blocker of the week and certainly had to open some eyes as to his size and potential. Jerick McKinnon is a former quarterback still learning the nuances of the position, but he showed some explosiveness. James White had a good week. He still needs to show he can fight through contact, but he certainly had some people in his corner after his week in Mobile.
The bottom line is that the running back rankings are extremely fluid and whether it is from draft analyst to draft analyst or team to team, their boards when it comes to the position could look nothing alike in the end. As a result, a team’s top ranked back could be sitting there in the third or fourth round because this group is so closely ranked. And I can virtually guarantee someone’s top back is someone I did not even mention here.