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Top 5 College Running Backs To Watch In 2016

We started our series looking at the signal callers, now we move on to the runners.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Today's never a nice day. It's a day where many NFL dreams come to an end. Teams around the country will be cutting ties with players to trim their roster ready for the season. I don't enjoy today as a fan, so I can't imagine what it's like for the players and coaches.

Later today we'll be focusing on those cuts. However first we're going to take a quick look at some of the potential future stars at the running back position.

I happen to think Bilal Powell is set for a big year for the Jets this year but it's uncertain how much Matt Forte has left in the tank. The Jets certainly aren't set up at the position going forward, so I'll be watching how these running backs get on throughout the year.

1) Leonard Fournette - LSU

2015 - 1,953 yards, 6.5 yard average, 22 TD's. 19 receptions, 253 yards, 1 TD.

What is there not to like about Fournette? He's big, he's strong, he's fast, he's explosive, he's got great vision and enjoys a little contact football. Every now and then a player comes along that just makes you stand up in recognition, and Fournette is that man. He came into LSU with enough hype for a whole recruiting class, but it didn't bother him one bit. He's a power back that has open field moves and speed. He also has pretty good hands, he hasn't caught a ton of balls in college, but he always looks comfortable when being asked to. If he can improve his pass-blocking this year, he'll be the complete back and if he doesn't go in the top 5, I'll be amazed.

2) Dalvin Cook - Florida State

2015 - 1,691 yards, 7.4 yard average, 19 TD. 24 receptions, 244 yards, 1 TD.

The 2017 class of running backs has the potential to be pretty special. Dalvin is another back who has top 10 potential. Dalvin is one of those real explosive athletes, who seems to go from standing still to top-flight in an instant. He has that home-run ability, every time he touches the ball you think he's taking it to the house. He's excellent in the open field and his angle awareness to get away from pursuing defenders is elite. His hands are good and he's actually an above average pass blocker. He's not as physical as Fournette and he'll probably need to pack on a few pounds to really help in those short power situations.

3) Christian McCaffrey - Stanford

2015 - 2,019 yards, 6.0 yard average, 8 TD. 45 receptions, 645 yards, 5 TD.

Versatility is key with McCaffrey. Stanford like to move him around the formation. He could be in the back-field or in the slot or even split out wide. He has good speed and is an elusive open field runner, he also has one of the best stiff arms I've ever seen, it's violent. He's not the most powerful runner in the game and he sometimes needs some space to get up a full head of steam. However he has excellent hands and he is a nightmare for linebackers, his lateral quickness is excellent and once he sees the hole, he's gone. He has also been used in the return game, where he has shown off his patience and vision. His pass-blocking is the obvious weakness in his game, he'll need a lot of help here to be trusted at the next level.

4) Samaje Perine - Oklahoma

2015 - 1,349 yards, 6.0 yard average, 16 TD. 15 receptions, 107 yards, 1 TD.

If you've been reading GGN for a while, you'll know I love power backs. Bowling balls who just plow their way through the line. Well Perine is exactly that. He doesn't have that elite speed or the elusiveness that the others possess, but he is extremely powerful and aggressive. I've rarely seem him tackled one on one and he isn't afraid to lower his head and take on some serious contact. With all his power, he also shows exceptional balance and vision, and rarely makes the wrong choice when it comes to running lanes. He won't bounce it outside very often, but he's a good workhorse. He hasn't been used as a pass catcher or pass protector very much, so both areas are largely unknown. He doesn't have much explosion or acceleration either.

5) Nick Chubb - Georgia

2015 - 747 yards, 8.1 yard average, 7 TD. 4 receptions, 32 yards, 1 TD.

Chubb was one of the most impressive freshman in 2014, unfortunately his 2015 season was cut short due to a devastating injury. However he's back to full fitness and he'll suit up this afternoon against North Carolina. If he can come back at 100%, he'll push Fournette all the way this year. Chubb possesses all the skills you want at the position. He shows excellent vision with unmatched balance, couple that with long speed and excellent burst and acceleration and you have the makings of a unique talent. He also has patience to wait for the hole to open, he'll then cut on a dime and be gone before the defender has time to turn his head. It all comes down to if he can come back from the damage to his leg. We won't have to wait long to find out.