As always, the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine proved to be beneficial for some prospects and potentially damaging for others. With another deep class of talent, this Combine could be the difference of a few rounds for some running back prospects. Let's go in depth with some of the prospects who walked out of the Combine helping their draft stock and those whose draft stock may have suffered.
Daniel Lasco, California
In a sea full of day-two/day-three running back prospects, Lasco may have helped separate himself from the pack & squarely secure a shot at being selected early on day three if not late on day two with his very impressive combine. He had 23 reps of 225 lbs. at the bench press (7th among running backs), 41.5" vertical (1st among RBs), 11'3"broad jump (1st among RBs), 4.46 40 yard dash (4th among RBs) & a 7.22 three cone drill (3rd among RBs). Those are impressive numbers to go along with good size at 6 feet and 209 lbs. While he did miss most of 2015 with hip & ankle injuries, he rushed for 1,115 yards & 12 touchdowns in 2014. Lasco put up some great numbers at the combine & will look to continue his momentum at his college's pro day on March 18th.
Derrick Henry, Alabama
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner had a heck of a combine this past weekend. Along with having terrific college production & a solid resume, Henry made some jaws drop at the combine with how well he tested in most drills. Keep in mind, Henry is 6'2-5/8" & weighs 247 lbs, so he is no featherweight. He had 22 bench press reps at 225 lbs (Tied for 8th among running backs), 37" vertical (5th among RBs), 10'10" broad jump (Tied for 2nd among RBs) 4.54 40 yard dash (Tied for 11th among RBs) & a 7.2 three cone drill (11th among RBs). Now while his 40 yard dash might've been slower than most other running backs, he was the heaviest of all the running backs who ran the drill and it is a very good time for someone his size. His three cone drill is a disappointment, but not enough to hold it against him too much when looking at the rest of his numbers. Henry had been slotted as the #2 running back prospect by most for this draft and is projected by most to go in the 2nd round. But with this great overall showing at the combine, he may have helped his case into the late 1st round. He will look to keep up his great showing at Alabama's Pro Day on March 9th.
Dan Vitale, Northwestern
Technically, Vitale is more of a fullback/h-back player, but Vitale had a terrific combine & it needs to be talked about. At 6'1" & 239 lbs, he is around the same size as Derrick Henry. Vitale had 30 reps of 225 lbs (Tied for 1st among all backs), 38.5" vertical (3rd among all backs), 10'4" broad jump (5th among all backs), 4.6 40 yard dash (15th among all backs) & a 7.12 three cone drill (9th among all backs). Vitale's vertical, broad jump & bench press reps are impressive & encouraging for a versatile back like Vitale. Keeping in mind that while his 40 yard dash & three cone drill may not have been too impressive, he is also a larger back like Henry, as he was the 3rd heaviest back there who competed in drills. Vitale is very athletic & also was highly productive during his time at Northwestern. He could easily be the 1st fullback/h-back taken off the board & we could see him gone late day two with this Combine. Be sure to check him at his college's pro day on March 8th.
Alex Collins, Arkansas
Collins had been gathering some steam since the end of the college football season after rushing for 1577 yards & 20 touchdowns. It is a terrific season, especially considering he was playing in the SEC. But Collins did not have the greatest of combines & may have hurt his stock a little in process. He had 18 bench press reps (tied for 14th among running backs), a 28.5" vertical jump (worst among RBs), 9.5' broad (tied for 18th among RBs), 4.59 40 yard dash (tied for 15th among RBs) & he did not participate in the three cone drill. Collins tested out poorly at combine, especially considering he isn't overly tall or heavy (5'10", 217 lbs) & with Derrick Henry for example testing out well at the combine, it is hurting Collins' chances of being #2 running back selected, if he is even picked in the top 3-4. He could be slated for a mid-day two selection if not lower if he does not improve at Arkansas' pro day on March 16th.
Kelvin Taylor, Florida
Coming into this combine, Taylor was a name not mentioned much despite playing at a big SEC school like Florida. He was possibly a day three pick coming in, but could be going undrafted after the poor showing he had at the combine. He had 15 bench press reps of 225 lbs (21st among running backs), 32" vertical (tied for 17th among RBs), a 9'5" broad jump (tied for 18th among RBs), a 4.6 40 yard dash (tied for 16th among RBs), and did not participate in the three cone drill. Taylor did not test even in the top 15 for any of the drills at the combine he participated, which is very sub-par. Taylor had big school appeal, but after not doing well in any of the drills despite near-ideal size at 5'10", 207 lbs, he could be lucky if he is a 6-7th round pick at this point.
Paul Perkins, UCLA
Perkins was an under-the-radar running back prospect coming into this offseason but has been gathering some steam in the draft community upon further examination of his game tape. He played out in the Pac-12, and was over-shadowed by Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. Perkins did not have as solid of a combine as he was expected to have. It doesn't mean he necessarily performed poorly, but rather below expectations. He had 19 bench press reps of 225 lbs (tied for 13th among running backs), 32" vertical (tied for 17th among RBs), 10'4" broad jump (tied for 4th among RBs), 4.54 40 yard dash (tied for 11th among RBs), and did not participate in the three cone drill. Perkins had a great broad jump & an average bench press drill, but had a sub-par vertical jump & 40 yard dash result considering his size (5'10", 208 lbs). Perkins still has a chance to solidify a day two selection with a solid pro day on March 15th, but he certainly needs a better performance to keep his stock from slipping more.
What do you think? Are there some big winners that aren't listed here that deserve praise? Are there other running backs that hurt their draft stock at the combine? Let us know in the comment section below.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please welcome Doug, another new addition to the writing staff at Acme Packing Company. Doug can also be found on Twitter at @DMooreNFL.