Cavi’s 2017 NFL Draft Running Back Projections

Early today we put out a special podcast discussing the 2017 NFL Draft. Because, I’m clearly the most knowledgeable out of the bunch, I took it a step forward and gave you my top 5 in writing. Here’s my official 2017 NFL Draft Running Back Projections.

1. Christian McCaffrey

Stanford | 5’10” | 202 lbs.

  • 2016: 1603 rush YDS 6.3 AVG, 37 REC 310 YDS 8.4 AVG, 16 TD
  • Career: 3922 rush YDS 6.2 AVG, 99 REC 1206 YDS 12.2 AVG, 33 TD in 38 games

I believe Christian McCaffrey is the “best” running back in this draft, meaning I’m ranking him number 1 here. I don’t think he’ll be drafted first. Because, many coaches in the NFL aren’t prepared to make the adjustments that they would need to for McCaffery. The big knock on McCaffery is his size. I get it. But, he can 100% be a feature back in the NFL. He’s not a power back, but he could carry the ball 20-25 times a game if utilized correctly.

Where’s he going? He should go to the Jaguars. They need a running back, have the fourth pick and he’ll be the best running back available at that time. But, they want a power back. So, he’ll likely go to my Carolina Panthers at #8. I’m OK with this for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I’m a Panthers’ fan. Secondly, Stewart is getting old, but he’s still got enough juice left to mentor a young player, even if they’re completely different style running backs. Also, I think Cam Newton and McCaffrey could be a dynamic duo. There are so many possibilities that would open up with an explosive quarterback like Newton and a running back as versatile as McCaffrey.

2. Leonard Fournette

LSU | 6’ | 240 lbs.

  • 2016: 843 rush YDS 6.5 AVG, 15 REC 146 YDS 9.7 AVG, 8 TD
  • Career: 3830 rush YDS 6.2 AVG, 41 REC 526 YDS 12.8 AVG, 42 TD in 32 games

Leonard Fournette is going to be the first running back taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Why? Because he’s more or less the prototype of what the NFL currently wants a running back to be. He’s big, he’s got deceptive speed for his size and he’s durable. If you tackle Fournette you’re going to feel it and if you don’t commit to that tackle, he’s going to run you over. Some people are pissed that he didn’t take part in the shuttle drills at the combine, but I don’t think NFL coaches or owners see him juking people, any way. He’s a consistent north and south runner, that makes the occasional big play with open field cuts.

Where’s he going? He’s going to the Jacksonville Jaguars at #4. I’m calling my shot.

3. Dalvin Cook

Florida State|  5’10” | 210 lbs.

  • 2016: 1765 rush YDS 6.1 AVG, 33 REC 488 YDS 14.8 AVG 20 TD
  • Career: 4464 rush YDS 6.5 AVG, 79 REC 935 YDS 11.8 AVG, 48 TD in 38 games

Cook has a somewhat questionable past off the field and apparently a bunch of shoulder injuries that he was trying to sweep under the rug. He also kind of sucked it up at the combine in the burst and agility portions. He did post a 4.49 in the 40 yard dash, though. He’s a patient runner that I’ve seen compared to Lesean McCoy. He steps through low tackles, but doesn’t really have the agility to juke or dance and he’s not running people over like Fournette. In the right system he could still be a three down back, because he’s a serious weapon in the passing game. I just don’t think he’s going to have a long career. He’s fragile. Breakable. Handle with care.

Where’s he going ? Joe Mixon being a scumbag is the best thing to happen to Dalvin Cook. With Mixon’s stock dropping, I think Mixon will go in the first round. Possibly to the Colts at 15. Andrew Luck needs a back to dump the ball out to. More than likely though, he’s going to stay in the sunshine state and get picked up by Tampa Bay at #19. Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games and will miss most of the off season in a drug rehabilitation program. This will give Mixon the chance to shine early. If he’s available at #19, he shouldn’t drop any further.

4. Joe Mixon

Oklahoma | 6’1” | 228 lb.

  • 2016: 1274 rush YDS 6.8 AVG, 37 REC 538 YDS 14.5 AVG, 16 TD
  • Career: 2027 rush YDS 6.8 AVG, 65 REC 894 YDS 13.8 AVG, 27 TD in 25 games

Mixon doesn’t fall to #4 on my list because of his skill set, he falls there because it seems like he’s a pretty shitty human. We’ve all seen the video. You can decide what it means to you on your own time. The NFL has taken a big stance against domestic violence, so it will be interesting to see how serious they take it in this case. Because, I honestly believe that if Ray Rice wasn’t in the twilight of his career, he’d still be in the league. So, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Joe Mixon is the first, second or third running back taken in the NFL draft. The fact that the lawsuit against Mixon has been settled is huge for him. A lot of teams had “red dotted” him. Now, they might be willing to take a second look.

Now, lets talk football. Mixon’s a Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson hybrid running back. Which is just about everything that you can ask for from a running back in today’s game. He needs to be consistent, but that will come with time.

Where’s he going? Likely the Bengals. Cincinnati has proven that they really don’t care about character flaws. They also need an upgrade at running back, as Jeremy Hill hasn’t exactly panned out. I’ve also heard the Packers were interested. They’re not going to use a first round pick on him though, they need to build on their defense in this draft. But, a Mixon-Montgomery backfield could be nasty. Aaron Rodgers needs some help back there and Montgomery isn’t a 20+ carry back.

I see Kareem Hunt from Toledo as the fifth running back to go. He’s from what my research has show me a value pick. Anyone would really be lucky to get him in the second round. So, the Vikings, Packers and Bengals might all roll the dice.

Listen, we go more in depth into all of this on our podcast. Give it a listen below…

Enjoy your 2017 NFL Draft Running Back Projections!