This year’s draft class boasts an immense group of talented players that have their sights set on making an impact in the NFL. For this final edition, I, Eddie “Hash Marks” Harris, will list RBs and WRs that I think will become household names in the NFL for years to come.
Since 2010, only seven running backs have been selected in the first round. And in the 2013 NFL Draft, not one running back was selected in the first round. The latest projections indicate that a running back might not be taken in the first round again in 2014. Nonetheless, the running back position is critical in any offense.
Andre Williams (Boston College) – The Doak Walker Award winner, Williams rushed for 2,177 yards in 2013. He set an ACC record and a Boston College record for the most rushing yards in a single season and most carries (355) in a single season, and he became the first FBS player since 2007 to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in a single season. Williams also registered 18 rushing touchdowns, which are the third-highest total in school history for a single season. He might not be the highest rated running back in the draft, but he’s a workhorse. And he put up 149 yards against National Champion Florida State in 2013.
Tre Mason (Auburn) – He’s currently the highest rated running back in this year’s draft, and rightfully so. After all, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award last season. In 2013, Mason set school records in rushing yards (1,816), all-purpose yards (2,374) and rushing touchdowns (23). In the SEC Championship Game, he rushed for 304 yards on 46 carries, setting a school record for carries in a single game, and placed second in school history for a single game rushing total. He also totaled more than 1,000 kickoff return yards while at Auburn and recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He’s going to produce for whatever team selects him.
Carlos Hyde (Ohio State) – In 2013, Hyde became Head Coach Urban Meyer’s first 1,000-yard rusher, as he totaled 1,521 yards, the seventh-best single-season total in school history. He was named Big Ten Running Back of the Year and was named a second-team All-American. Hyde also finished his career with nine consecutive 100-yard games, and he averaged more than seven yards per carry in 2013. In his final two seasons, he scored 31 rushing touchdowns. Playing in a league as physical as the Big Ten is a bonus as he transitions into the NFL.
Just missed the cut – Jeremy Hill, Devonta Freeman and James White
Sammy Watkins (Clemson) – This is a no brainer. He’s the best receiver in the draft class. He’s a top-10 pick. He’s going to be a superstar. Watkins became just the second player in school history to record 5,000 all-purpose yards and 3,000 receiving yards. He’s one of just three players to record at least 20 receiving touchdowns and recorded at least 200 receptions. He’s that good. He will produce wherever he goes.
Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State) – Some have questioned his work ethic, but you can’t question that he’s probably the most physically gifted receiver in this year’s class. Benjamin is six-foot-five, 250 pounds and runs a 4.6. His vertical is 32.5 inches. That’s scary for defenders. In 2013, Benjamin recorded 54 receptions for 1,011 yards with 15 receiving touchdowns. He became the first Florida State player to record 1,000 receiving yards in a single season since 2002. You can’t teach size or speed. And this young man has them both. He can stretch the field, and he’s a go-to in the red zone.
Allen Robinson (Penn State) – If you are looking for size, speed and strong hands, he’s your man. Robinson ranks second in school history with 177 career receptions, third with 2,474 receiving yards and fourth with 17 touchdown receptions. He’s also just the second player in school history to record multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Like Benjamin, he’s the perfect red zone target and they have similar speed. But get this; Robinson’s vertical jump is 39 inches. He’s going to be fun to watch in the upcoming years.
Just missed the cut – Mike Evans, Marquise Lee and Odell Beckham, Jr.