Thanks to an influx of underclassmen, running back is one of the strongest positions from top to bottom in the 2008 draft. Topping the board is Darren McFadden, who is arguably this year's most gifted all-around athlete. McFadden is not a classic bellcow back but his rare versatility and explosiveness should make him the only running back to land a spot in the top 10.
Three more underclassmen -- Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Stewart and McFadden's teammate Felix Jones -- also project as first-rounders. Mendenhall and Stewart are thickly-built and more powerful than McFadden but neither is blessed with his home run-hitting ability. Jones is versatile and fast but also took advantage of an excellent offensive line and benefited from all the attention defenses paid to McFadden in college. In our opinion, teams can get a better value in similar backs such as Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles in Round 2. Regardless, McFadden and Jones should be the first running back tandem from the same school drafted in the first round since Auburn's Carnell Williams (Buccaneers) and Ronnie Brown (Dolphins) in 2005.
Ray Rice, Kevin Smith and Matt Forte all were enormously productive at the college level but each will be fighting for a spot late in Round 2 because of the depth of this class. And to further illustrate how stacked this crop is, consider that big-name college standouts such as Chauncey Washington, Tashard Choice, Mike Hart and Steve Slaton could all be available in the fourth round.