NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks published his updated top-five players at each position on Wednesday, including a batch of five running backs who are expected to all come off the board by the end of Day 2.
The top three — Alabama’s Najee Harris, Clemson’s Travis Etienne, and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams — are borderline consensus picks at this point in the draft calendar. With one week to go before the 2021 draft kicks off, it’s difficult imagining a scenario in which a different name jumps into the top three. Of course, late-breaking injury or off-field concerns can change things, but there’s been no suggestion that a shock is coming with this group.
Brooks ranks UNC’s Michael Carter as his fourth-best running back, which feels about right. Carter is a tad undersized for feature-back duties at just under 5’8 and 201 pounds. I’ve comp’d him to a bigger Tarik Cohen, and I still believe that’s the right range of expectations for Carter, who can be a nice change-of-pace option behind a more traditional between-the-tackles guy on a depth chart.
Fifth in Brooks’ rankings is Ohio State’s Trey Sermon, who we like a bit more and have ranked fourth.
Sermon is more of what you’d expect from an every-down prospect. He’s 6’3, 215 pounds, and runs with the kind of contact balance and power needed to gain the hidden yards in the NFL. He ran a fast-enough 4.57 40-yard dash and has a chance to emerge as a starter as early as 2021. If a team like the Jets selects him on Day 2? There’s no reason to believe he won’t be one of their primary ball carriers this fall.
For a complete breakdown of all of Brooks’ position rankings, click here.