It is never too early to talk about the NFL Draft. In fact, some NFL fans out there may have started the countdown to April weeks ago (you’re on the clock Jaguars). As far as the upcoming crop of NFL running backs is concerned, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has high hopes for his own Montee Ball based on what he is hearing from NFL scouts per ESPNMilwaukee.com:
“I’ve had several guys comment to me this year that they thought he’s the first back to go in this year’s draft,” Bielema said. “Many make the statement without a doubt.”
“Again, there are a lot of good players around him, but I think Montee is going to be very, very happy on draft day.”
Kudos to Bielema for pitching his player like a savvy car salesman, but if what the scouts are telling Bielema is true, I think Ball’s current draft status has more to do with the lack of perceived star power at running back in this upcoming draft than it does Ball’s talent. There is no dominant back like Adrian Peterson or Trent Richardson in this 2013 group, and we may not see a running back go in the first-round. However, NFL teams have drafted fewer first-round running backs over the last five years in large part because teams have been able to find talented backs like Matt Forte, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy in the second-round (all of whom recently received lucrative contract extensions). With that in mind, it may not be such a bad thing for Montee Ball if he has to wait until round 2 or 3 in April to hear his name called.