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2017 NFL Draft prospects: Mid-round running backs

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NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

A case can be made that no team should invest a first round pick on a running back. Players at the position have a short shelf life, are prone to injury and reliant on blocking for production. On the flip side, spending a mid round draft pick on a running back every year is a practical strategy.

The Baltimore Ravens have selected a third or fourth round back is each of the last five consecutive drafts. Kenneth Dixon, last year’s fourth rounder, displayed promise when on the field, but he missed a quarter of the season with injury and will be suspended for the first four games of the season after a P.E.D. violation. Terrance West is a rugged runner between the tackles, but not considered a bell cow back. Recently acquired veteran Danny Woodhead is a 32-year-old, undersized back who tore his ACL last season. Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro appear to be fringe players, they combined for 16 total touches in 2016.

The Ravens would benefit from adding a rookie to their running back committee via the upcoming draft. And the running back group is regarded as one of the best overall positions of the 2017 crop; rivaled only by cornerbacks, safeties, edge rushers and tight ends. As many as a dozen running backs could be selected in the third, fourth and fifth rounds at the end of the month.

Slashers

Marlon Mack, South Florida, 5’11” 213

An agile runner with quick feet and getaway speed.

Kareem Hunt, Toledo, 5’10” 216

Well-rounded player who is tailor-made for a zone blocking scheme.

Jeremy McNichols, Boise State, 5’9” 214

A productive back with great vision and pass catching ability.

Joe Williams, Utah, 5’11, 210

Has great balance and home run speed, but carries some serious character concerns.

Corey Clement, Wisconsin, 5’10” 220

An athletic, one-cut back with a concerning injury history.

Donnell Pumphrey, San Diego State, 5’8” 176

Patient runner with tremendous burst and open-field elusiveness.

Power

Samaje Perine, Oklahoma, 5’11” 233

Bully back with exceptional strength who should thrive in short yardage situations.

D’Onta Foreman, Texas, 6’0” 233

Athletic specimen who struggles in pass protection.

Wayne Gallman, Clemson, 6’0” 215

An aggressive banger who excels on the goal line.

James Connor, Pittsburgh, 6’1” 233

A true power runner with excellent football character.

Jamaal Williams, Brigham Young, 6’0” 212

Physical, decisive back who comes with off-the-field baggage.

Brian Hill, Wyoming, 6’1” 219

Combines a downhill running style with expertise in pass protection.

Which mid-round running back do you hope the Ravens pick and why?