Top 5 running back prospects

The No. 1 running back might not really be a running back

Originally Published: May 14, 2013
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

De'Anthony ThomasDoug James/Icon SMIDe'Anthony Thomas is a versatile offensive weapon for the Oregon Ducks.

The 2013 NFL draft was the first one in the Common Era to not have a running back taken in Round 1. And it wasn't particularly close. Giovani Bernard came off the board at No. 37 overall to the Bengals, and the interesting thing about that is Bernard is largely prized for his pass-catching skills out of the backfield.

So in some ways it makes perfect sense that my top-ranked running back for the 2014 NFL draft is, right now, a player who doesn't look at all like a traditional running back. In fact, I'm sure some will argue about whether he projects to play that position at all at the NFL level.

I think it's fair to say the position has lost some value at the top of the draft board, but it's also evolving as the league evolves from an offensive standpoint. So even if the traditional running back is seen as more fungible, I think we're entering an era where the multi-faceted running back is making offense exciting.

With that, here's an early look at the top players on my board at the position.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst