Montee Ball, Senior, Running Back, Wisconsin
After running for a Barry Sanders-like 1923 yards and 33 touchdowns, and being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, no one would have blamed Montee Ball for leaving school early to enter the NFL draft. Instead, the Wisconsin back decided to return to an offense void of its starting quarterback and number one wide out from a season ago. Perhaps this means Ball will get even more chances this season, although it seems nigh impossible that he could improve upon his 2011 season totals. Yet players return to school for all sorts of different reasons and just because his draft stock might drop some is no reason to criticize the man. Whether it was to try to win a title or just because he loves being a Badger and a college kid, not entering the draft at his highest value is nothing to be ashamed of.
Ball is a bruising back who proved he is capable of carrying an entire offense. While as a sophomore he was forced into a three-way time share in the Badgers’ backfield, Ball’s junior year saw him as the definitive feature back. Even though the NFL is shying away from one-back offenses, a player of Ball’s consistency and power is coveted. Whereas a smaller, slashing back would need to be paired with someone to complement his skills, Montee Ball can fit into any offense from day one. With a fair amount of position competition in the 2013 draft, this may be enough to propel Ball into the first round as one of the top two backs off the board.