The top 10 running backs in the NFL draft

NFL draft preview: Top running back

Overview: "You've got the bigger short-yardage type of back or the bruiser, kind of inside power runner versus the speed and edge guy. This draft has elements of both, and again I think what's important is that whatever your need is, you identify that need, and if you can find one of the guys that fits those needs then you take those guys. Hopefully they come in and contribute to your team."

-- Rick Smith, Houston Texans general manager

Top 10

1. C.J. Spiller, Clemson, 5-foot-11, 195 pounds: Clifford Spiller Jr. (known as just C.J.) combines rare field vision with blinding speed. Can impact games as a runner, receiver or return man.

2. Ryan Mathews, Fresno State, 5-11, 220: Led the nation in rushing last season while averaging 150.7 yards per game. He rushed for a 39 touchdowns over his career.

3. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, 5-11 ½, 222: Powered the Yellow Jackets' vaunted attack, while rushing for more than 2,700 yards as a sophomore and junior. Was named the ACC player of the year in 2008.

4. Jahvid Best, California, 5-10, 195: Dazzling open field runner with excellent speed. Durability is a concern.

5. Joe McKnight, USC, 6-0, 190: Went to USC as the heir-apparent to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Never turned in a mega-season, but showed great instincts and game-breaking ability.

6. Toby Gerhart, Stanford, 6-1, 235: Powerful runner who also played baseball for three seasons. He has good vision and ability to follow his blocking.

7. LeGarrette Blount, Oregon, 6-0, 215: He had to rehabilitate his reputation after slugging a player from Boise State in the jaw on national television after being taunted. Originally signed with Auburn coming out of high school.

8. Montario Hardesty, Tennessee, 6-0, 215: He has a hard-charging running style and is not afraid to lower his pads and power through tacklers. Lacks top-end speed.

9. Dexter McCluster, Mississippi, 5-8, 172: Tough and quick little back, who could line up in the slot and play some wide receiver. He ran a slow 40-yard dash time (4.53 seconds) at the NFL scouting combine.

10. Ben Tate, Auburn, 5-11, 214: Ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine to dispel notions about his lack of speed. Ran for more than 1,300 yards last season.

Other NFL prospects: James Starks, Buffalo; Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State; Joique Bell, Wayne State; Stafon Johnson, USC; Pat Paschall, North Dakota State; Charles Scott, LSU; Andre Anderson, Tulane.

Five teams in need: San Diego, Cleveland, Houston, Detroit and Philadelphia.

Five teams not interested: New York Jets, Washington, Minnesota, Chicago and Arizona.

Falcons view: They are counting on Michael Turner returning to good health and carrying the rushing attack. Jason Snelling showed that he can play both running-back positions last season, and Jerious Norwood is still considered a valuable part of the offense.