Dec 1, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Ben Tate (44) runs with the ball for a fourth quarter touchdown against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium. The Patriots beat the Texans 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft, free agency short on running backs

With NFL teams moving more toward an aerial assault and the running back by committee approach in full effect, the NFL Draft and free agency is a little bit light on quality tailbacks.

First looking at the draft, CBS Sports doesn’t have a single running back listed in their Top 25 of draft prospects. According to the site, the first running back should be coming off the board around the middle of the 2nd round. In fact, the site is projecting that only four backs will be taken in the opening two rounds including Ka’Deem Carey (41) from Arizona, Tre Mason (51) from Auburn, Carlos Hyde (56) from Ohio State and Bishop Sankey (63) from Washington.

The NFL is a bit more generous when it comes to its running back rankings, but still only has Carlos Hyde (21) and Tre Mason (47) ranked in its Top 50.

Moving on over to free agency, NFL Around the League writer Chris Wesseling doesn’t have a running back listed in his Top 25 Free Agents, but here are some of the best available.

Maurice Jones-Drew is set to test the market, but he is coming off one of his worst seasons with the Jaguars. He only averaged 3.4 yards per carry last year after having his 2012 season cut short by a Lisfranc injury.

Speaking of injury, Darren McFadden is also a free agent, but he hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season in his six-year career. McFadden has been productive at times when healthy, but he is also coming off a poor showing, averaging only 3.3 yards per carry last year after playing in only 10 games.

Ben Tate is one of the few guys that could add some pop to the 2014 free agent running back class. Playing in the shadow of Arian Foster, Tate boasts a career 4.7 yards per carry average in 421 attempts for 1992 yards. As a full-time starter, Tate could turn in a good year and may be the top of the class.

Knowshon Moreno proved he could tote the rock this year with the Denver Broncos and the team has said they probably don’t have the cap space to re-sign the running back. Moreno ran for 1,038 yards last year and 10 touchdowns. He also had 548 receiving yards and added three more scores through the air.

New York Giants running back Andre Brown had some good games this season after recovering from a broken leg. His best game included 127 yards on 21 carries against the Dallas Cowboys.

Beyond these guys, the rest of the class has had their moments, but have not consistently shown they can be a featured running back, or they are on the wrong side of 30. These players include Willis McGahee, Donald Brown, Jonathan Dwyer, Rashad Jennings, LaGarrette Blount, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Peyton Hillis and James Starks.

Not exactly a group of world-beaters.

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