Scouting The Senior Bowl: Running Backs


With Pro Bowl running back Justin Forsett set to become a free agent, the Ravens could have an opening for their lead running back duties.

Bernard Pierce didn't step into that role last year, and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro was used as more of a complementary piece than lead back.

Could the Ravens find that tailback in the draft?

Here are my notes on the running backs from the Senior Bowl:

  • The best pure runner at the Senior Bowl was Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah. The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder is muscular, yet very shifty and quick getting through holes in the line. He was incredibly productive, as he became the school's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage and rushed for over 1,000 yards in three seasons.
  • The criticism of Abdullah is that he's not good in pass protection, and he didn't do much to dispel that notion while at the Senior Bowl. He was overwhelmed by bull rush blocks and whiffed on his first attempt in one-one-one drills on Tuesday.
  • Perhaps the most complete back in Mobile was Northern Iowa's David Johnson, who moved to the top of the pecking order for the South team. Johnson is a big back at 6-foot-2, 229 pounds, and he looks the part. He still showed he can make defenders miss and pick his way through traffic, and he's got good hands coming out of the backfield.
  • Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne had some ball security issues. He fumbled once on Thursday, then had an easy drop during Thursday's practice.
  • Don't sleep on Yale fullback Tyler Varga. Varga is on the shorter end at 5-foot-11, but he's pure muscle and showed he can be effective running the ball and catching it.
  • Michigan State's Jeremy Langford looked quite smooth early on, especially catching the ball, but missed Thursday's practice due to injury.
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