Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 2/26/12
Even though the NFL is becoming a passing league more and more each year, the running back is still an extremely valuable position. Now, the best running backs in the NFL today can run between the tackles, turn the corner and break free, and catch the ball down field as well. Talent can be found anywhere in the NFL Draft, and that includes running back talent. Here are the top ten running back prospects in this year's NFL Draft:
 
10. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State
Ballard had a very inconsistent year in 2011. He finished the year with a respectable 1,189 yards rushing and 10 TDs, but after having 19 touchdowns in 2010, everyone was expecting a break out year. After starting off strong having 166 yards and 135 yards against Memphis and Auburn, respectively, Ballard fell off the map. He would combine for 129 yards over his next three games and pro scouts were beginning to wonder if he was a bust. Ballard could be the biggest steal in this year’s NFL Draft, but he better hope to have a great showing at the combine to up his dollars by April..
 
9. Tauren Poole, Tennessee
Is Poole Arian Foster 2.0? Just like Ballard, Poole had a stellar 2010 with 1,034 yards and 11 TDs, but 2011 something wasn’t right. In 2011, he ran for 693 yards and five scores. But after an impressing showing at the East-West Shrine Game, Poole’s stock continues to rise. He won the Shrine Game's Pat Tillman award which shows he is a class act, and an overall good kid. He could be a middle of the second round, early third round pick.
 
8. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati
Pead had the best showing of any running back at the Senior Bowl running for 36 yards and catching one ball for four yards. With a 40 time just under 4.5, Pead is another potential late Draft choice who could play early. He had a very impressive senior season at Cincinnati rushing for 1,259 yards and 12 scores. He broke out against NC State carrying the ball 27 times for 167 yards and two scores (one receiving.) His size is a concern at 5’10’’ 197lbs, but will surely put on weight after he gets picked up.
 
7. Dan Herron, Ohio State
Dan Herron did just about everything for the Buckeyes during his tenure. After being suspended for the first five games due to Jersey-Gate, he put together a nice season. Herron had 678 yards and three scores for an underachieving OSU team. Three of his four games in 2012 he rushed for over 100 yards, including 14 carries for 141 yards and a score against Wisconsin. In 2010, Herron had 1,155 yards and 16 scores for the Bucks.
 
6. Bernard Pierce, Temple
Pierce probably had the best three years of any running back in Temple history. 2011, was the year that put him on the map. Pierce ran for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns. He has the size (6’0’’ 218lbs) and the physicality to be a force at the next level. His breakout game this year was against Maryland, which marked Temple’s first win over an ACC team. Pierce had 32 carries for 149 yards and five scores. Did I mention he missed two games this year and still had 27 touchdowns?
 
5. Doug Martin, Boise State
In a year which was highlighted by Kellen Moore, Doug Martin was slowly and quietly piling up numbers. The senior from Stockton, CA finished the year with 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns. He broke out against Colorado State rushing the ball 10 times for 200 yards and three scores. He only had six games in 2012 where Martin did not break the 100 yard mark and scored in all but two games. At 5’9’’ 223lbs and 4.4 speed, this kid has the tools to be the next Adrian Peterson.
 
4. Chris Polk, Washington
Polk is another running back that was out-hyped by his QB all year, but still made some noise. In 2012, Polk ran for 1,488 yards and 12 scores while rolling over the Pac-12. He ran for over 100 yards in 10 of his 13 games last season, including a 144 yards and four TD performance against Arizona, a game in which Polk also had four catches for 100 yards and a score. Polk can be a duel threat at the next level as a running back and kick returner.
 
3. Lamar Miller, Miami
Running back U continues to breed top collegiate RBs. Miller ran over the ACC with his speed and physicality. He finished the year with 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns. He started the season with five straight 100 yard games, including a 184 yard performance against Ohio State. Miller will be the third running back taken off the board with Seattle, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Cincinnati looking to grab one within the first three rounds.
 
2. David Wilson, Virginia Tech
No one knew Wilson’s name until this year, but no one will forget it now. Wilson finished his outstanding 2011 season with 1,709 yards and nine TDs. He had over 120 yards and all but three games this year. Wilson broke out against Georgia Tech with 23 carries for 175 yards. His size and speed would make Wilson a valuable asset to any NFL team.
 
1. Trent Richardson, Alabama
There hasn’t been more of a sure thing at the running back position since Adrian Peterson. His mixture of size (5’9’’ 228lbs,) speed (4.5 40), and strength make him a beast in the NFL. Now, I know he isn’t there yet and anything can happen, but my goodness this kid could be scary good. He finished last season 1,679 yards rushing, 21 touchdowns, 338 yards receiving, and three more scores. Against archrival Auburn, Richardson had 203 yards on 27 carries in a 42-14 victory. Richardson will easily be the first running back off the board, possibly going to Cleveland or Tampa Bay.

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