The 2008 NFL rookie class has represented itself well, and no position has made a greater impact than running back, which is not unusual. Heading into Week 5, five of the league's top 29 rushers are rookies: Matt Forte (Chicago), Chris Johnson (Tennessee), Darren McFadden (Oakland), Jonathan Stewart (Carolina) and Steve Slaton (Houston). And that group doesn't include Felix Jones (Dallas), who is averaging 8.2 yards per carry and owns the NFL's sixth-best kickoff return average (28.5 ypr).
At this rate, there might not be room for another class of rookie runners to make the same type of impact in 2009. But that shouldn't stop us from speculating, right?
Of course not. So here's a look at five draft-eligible running back prospects capable of contributing immediately in the NFL a year from now. Much like this year's crop, it projects to be heavy on underclassmen (* denotes juniors; ** denotes third-year sophomores):