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NFL Scouting Combine

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2019 Combine Preview: Running back

The Detroit Lions look to have found their running back of the future in last year's second-round pick Kerryon Johnson, who finished second in the NFL with a 5.4 yards per carry average, and proved to be a consistent playmaker in the Lions' offense when healthy.

Behind Johnson the Lions have some decisions to make this offseason. The team's second and third leading rushers last season – LeGarrette Blount and Zach Zenner – are both unrestricted free agents. Veteran third down specialist, Theo Riddick, is entering the final year of his contract.

It would not be surprising to see some new faces in the running back room when the team returns for offseason workouts, potentially both via free agency and the draft.

This year's crop of rookie runners will be at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next week going through medical evaluations, meeting with teams and doing on-field testing.

Here's a look at some of the running backs to watch next week:


School: Alabama

Ht/Wt: 5-10, 216

Best trait: Versatility. Jacobs has a terrific combination of power, vision, burst and passing-catching ability to be a three-down player in the NFL. He can get a team the yards they need on the goal line or make a play out of the backfield in the passing game on third down.

Concern: Teams wonder about his long speed and the fact that he didn't have a lot of explosive long runs in college. He split carries with Damien Harris. Can he be a bell cow?

Skinny: Jacobs became more of a focal point in the offense this past season, getting 120 carries, rushing for 640 yards (5.3 average) and scoring 11 touchdowns in 15 games. He also caught 20 passes for 247 yards (12.4) and three scores, and was a weapon as a kick returner (14 returns for 428 yards and one touchdown). He's a do-it-all back.

View photos of running backs that will participate in the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.


School: Alabama

Ht/Wt: 5-10, 214

Best trait: Production. Harris led Alabama with 1,037 yards on 146 carries (7.1 average) as a sophomore in 2016. He rushed for another 1,000 yards in 2017 with 11 touchdowns on just 135 carries (7.4 average). He paced the Tide again this past season with 876 yards and nine scores on 150 carries (5.8 average), splitting carries with Jacobs.

Concern: Harris lacks game-breaking speed or elite quickness.

Skinny: He's a no-nonsense runner -- One cut and get up the field back. He sets up his blocks well. Splitting carries with Jacobs means he doesn't have the wear and tear on his body as some of the other backs coming out. He doesn't turn the ball over, and should immediately help an NFL backfield.


School: Florida Atlantic

Ht/Wt: 5-9, 200

Best trait: Singletary finds the end zone. He led the nation in 2017 with 32 rushing touchdowns. He was among the nation's leaders again this past season with 22. In all, Singletary rushed for 66 touchdowns in three college seasons.

Concern: He's a bit undersized at 5-foot-9. FAU really wore out the tread on the tires, giving him close to 600 touches (587) over the last two seasons.

Skinny: There's no discounting his collegiate production. He can run between the tackles and is an able pass catcher out of the backfield, though he wasn't asked to do much of that this past season. He has a knack for finding the end zone, which teams love in their runners at this level.


School: Memphis

Ht/Wt: 5-9, 200

Best trait: Big-play potential. He finished second in the country with 1,909 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 214 carries (8.9 average) in 2018. He also averaged 8.9 yards per carry in 2017. He had 43 carries of 15-plus yards and 11 touchdowns of 50-plus yards last season.

Concern: Henderson has as a little smaller frame than desired and has an upright running style.

Skinny: Henderson is a speed back with big-play potential. He led the nation with 2,328 all-purpose yards. He could serve as a perfect complement in a one-two backfield setup. He's a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.


School: Iowa State

Ht/Wt: 5-11, 219

Best trait: Experience. Montgomery is a three-year starter for the Cyclones and two-time 1,000-yard rusher. He also caught 71 passes over the last three years, so there's some versatility to his game. He has the size, experience, toughness and instincts to help a team earlier rather than later.

Concern: Like Singletary, Montgomery has taken on a lot of the running load the last two seasons. There are also some questions about his long speed. The 40 time at the Combine will be an important number for him.

Skinny: He might be the best all-around back in this class when it's all said and done. He can play on all three downs and be productive on all three. He should come in and be an instant contributor.


School: Stanford

Ht/Wt: 5-10, 196

Best trait: Explosiveness. Love was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2017, ranking second in the nation with 2,118 rushing yards, fourth in yards per carry (8.1), and fifth in rushing touchdowns (19). He battled injuries in 2018, and his numbers dipped significantly, so the pre-draft process will be important for him. He should test well, especially in the speed and agility drills.

Concern: Love doesn't have ideal size to be a guy that can carry the load for a team.

Skinny: He's got the burst and speed to turn a short run into a 60-yard touchdown. He showed last season he can play through pain, which teams will admire. Talent evaluators will look at the 2017 tape and see the potential in his game to be a game-breaking back with plus speed and quickness.

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