C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller has an outstanding burst and the speed to outrun just about any NFL defense. He was the first running back taken in the 2010 NFL Draft, and for good reason. He was a play-maker and ATM (Automatic Touchdown Machine) at Clemson, which is why the Bills ignored other glaring needs in order to take him at 9th overall this year in the draft. He has shown that he can put points on the board for the Bills during the preseason and should get the starting nod when the regular season rolls around despite the Bills’ crowded running back depth chart. Spiller is a game-breaker who could be the building block for the Bills’ new offense as the Chan Gailey head coaching era starts in Buffalo.
Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions
When healthy, Best is a ticking time-bomb who can make defenses play in a flash. The Lions were in desperate need for more offensive weapons this offseason, and traded up into the bottom of the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft in order to take Best. He has an amazing second gear that allows him to fly past defenders. To go along with that speed is a slippery style of running that makes him difficult to bring down for just about any defender. Best should be a difference-maker for the Lions’ offense as they continue to try to bring pride and glory back to Detroit.
Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings
After falling just short of winning the Heisman Trophy in 2009, Gerhart comes into Minnesota with something to prove. The Vikings lost their backup running back Chester Taylor to the Chicago Bears during free agency and should be looking to Gerhart to step up and make plays behind All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. Gerhart is a hard-nosed, bulldozer-of-a-man who never goes down on the first hit and always falls forwards for extra yardage. He should be an excellent compliment to Peterson and could soon make a name for himself as more than just one of the best former Stanford players of all time.
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
Dwyer came into the 2010 NFL Draft as one of the most promising running back prospects. However, some character and injury concerns dropped him into the sixth round, where he was drafted by the Steelers. With the regular season just around the corner, Dwyer has been hard at work making those other NFL teams regret passing up on him. He is an aggressive runner who never backs down from a hit and who also has the speed to break big runs. Although he is behind starter Rashard Mendenhall for now, don’t be surprised to see Dwyer pushing for a decent number of carries in the near future.
Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints
Despite being at a crowded running back position for the Saints, Ivory has proven his worth so far this preseason. With electrifying play-making ability and a well rounded offensive attack, Ivory has earned himself a spot on the roster as well as some possible playing time. He shows a great burst out of his cuts as well as outstanding vision which allows him to find running lanes, getting him into the open field for some big yards. The Saints should feel safe if one of their running backs goes down with an injury, because Ivory is a young player just waiting for his time to shine.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Even though Mathews could very well be the best of this group, it’ll be hard to compare his stats to the rest at season’s end considering he was basically handed the starting job since day one. He is a powerful runner with a great burst who could easily break 1,000 yards rushing this season. Keep an eye out and see if Mathews has what it takes to effectively replace LaDainian Tomlinson as the Chargers’ feature running back.
Watching Preseason Games