As strong as the 2016 running back class was 2017 is expected to be even better. It is unlikely that more than 2-3 backs are taken in the first round again, although 10-12 could be off the board by the end of the third, and unlike other years each of those backs should be expected to win their team’s starting jobs.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State - Barkley is the gem of the running back class now. Several scouts I spoke with consider him better than both Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette. He certainly appears to have the all around game that NFL teams covet.
Royce Freeman, Oregon - Freeman is a lesser known, but highly rated player. How well hs does in Willie Taggart's offense this season will dictate how high he rises but his skill set has scouts very interested at this point in time.
Myles Gaskin, Washington - Gaskin is a highly productive player who looks like he has a complete game. Gaskin probably has the highest floor of the players on this list, although he doesn’t have the upside of a Barkley, Freeman, or Guice.
Derrius Guice, LSU - Guice is the big play threat out of this group and seems likely to push Barkly to be the first running back taken. Both should be top 10 selections if they stay healthy. Guice has the quick feet and breakaway speed that will make him a threat to score at any point on the field. Some teams felt he was better than Fournette.
Nick Chubb, Georgia - Chubb is one of the most talented backs in the country who has, unfortunately, seen injuries compound throughout his college career. Chubb is very similar to Todd Gurley, his teammate from a few seasons ago at Georgia, although he has better speed. He reminds me a lot of Frank Gore.
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama - Scarbrough is mostly on this list because Alabama has to have players on these lists. Truthfully, Scarborough is a big bodies power back that will find a home in the NFL. He isn’t much in the passing game or outside the tackles but he is a very effective road grader.
Terrance Williams, Baylor - Williams has good size and is difficult to bring down. He lacks breakaway speed or great vision but some scouts are interested in seeing how he develops over the next season. As of now I don’t see him as more than a late round selection, but we’ll see.
Kamryn Pettaway, Auburn - Like Scarborough - just up the road - Pettaway is a big power back. He is limited to certain systems but he has a low center of gravity and is a lot to bring down once he gets going. He won’t be as highly rated as many other players on this list.
Mike Weber, Ohio State - Weber isn’t lacking in confidence, nor does hs lack in athleticism. He has all the skills to be a solid NFL contributor although he doesn’t appear to be elite in any one aspect.
Sony Michel, Georgia - The second Bull Dog on this list. Michel has been productive at Georgia in relief of Nick Chubb for the last several seasons. Michel, who was a highly ranked recruit in his own right, has better speed than Chubb and has the ability to catch on with an NFL team, though he will likely be one of the lower rated players on this list.