Running Backs You Need to Know at 2018 Senior Bowl


The Ravens' running back situation is cloudy.

They have plenty of young, talented players on the roster with Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Buck Allen. Still, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said the Ravens are looking for a “special running back who can take the game over.”

This year's senior talent doesn't look stellar on paper, but Kareem Hunt went from the Senior Bowl to Pro Bowl in his first year after being a third-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here are some names to know:

Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
5-foot-11, 224 pounds; Draft projection – Rounds 2-4
Penny sat behind his cousin, three-time 1,600-yard rusher Donnel Pumphrey, for three seasons before becoming the Aztecs' featured back as a senior. He made the most of it, leading the nation with a staggering 2,248 rushing yards and finishing fifth in Heisman voting. Penny has good size and is a one-cut downhill runner who can make people miss in the open field.

Jaylen Samuels, N.C. State
5-11, 223; Draft projection – Rounds 3-5
Samuels is a jack-of-all-trades. He lined up at running back, tight end and wide receiver throughout his career and may be one of the best dual-threats in the draft. As a senior, Samuels posted 75 catches for 593 yards and four touchdowns and also ran 78 times for 407 yards and 12 scores. That's 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. Samuels worked as a running back in Mobile, and was one of the top performers with great burst and hands catching the ball out of the backfield.

Akrum Wadley, Iowa
5-10, 188; Draft projection – Rounds 4-6
Wadley has a slim build, but was still able to carry the load as Iowa's lead back for two seasons. He topped 1,000 rushing yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns each of the past two years. Wadley has good burst as an outside runner and has excellent hands. His pass protection is an issue, especially given his size. Wadley would provide a different style of running back in Baltimore's backfield.

Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
6-2, 222; Draft projection – Rounds 5-7
Ballage shared the starting role in his senior season and averaged 4.3 yards per carry for 657 yards and six scores. However, he practiced better in Mobile than his draft stock may suggest. Ballage is a big back, who some thought could move to fullback, but he showed nimble feet and good lateral movement. He could evolve into a power back and special teams contributor in the NFL.

Ito Smith, Southern Mississippi
5-9, 201; Draft projection – Rounds 5-7
Smith was a big-time three-year producer with 4,002 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns over his final three seasons. He's also a threat to catch the ball, putting up at least 40 catches over that span as well. Over his career, he averaged 10.3 yards per reception. He has a small frame, but is slippery in open space and adept at finding gaps.

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