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Five NFL Draft-eligible running backs who will dominate this season

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California
Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) is defended by USC Trojans defensive back Ajene Harris (27) in the second quarter during the 103rd Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have Jay Ajayi, who established himself as one of the NFL's premier running backs. Ajayi ran for 1,272 yards on 4.9 yards per carry and eight touchdowns.

Not bad for a second-year running back behind an often injured offensive line.

While the Dolphins certainly don't need a running back in the draft, the harsh reality is an NFL franchise can never be too prepared for catastrophe. No one expects the Miami Dolphins to look at running back in the draft, but injuries happen and all 32 NFL franchises can't forget that — no matter how successful their star players are performing.

Let's preview five running back prospects to watch for this college season.

Saquon Barkley, 5'11" and 223 pounds, Penn State:

It won't be long before Barkley is a household name and considered a top college talent. He has produced consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons on 5.7 yards per carry and 25 touchdowns. He proved to be dual-threat running back after tacking on 402 receiving yards. His speed, quickness, power and explosiveness, make him a nightmare to tackle. Barkley sits atop the throne of best running back prospects, and is expected to be taken in the top five according to most mock drafts.

Give Barkley an inch and he'll take a mile. His second gear is hard to match for most defenders.

His juke moves are a combination of smooth and deadly.

Just when defenders think they've figured Barkley out, he hurdles right over them.

Derrius Guice, 5'11" and 212 pounds, LSU:

The No. 4 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft was LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Derrius Guice may be better. Last season, while Fournette dealt with injuries, Guice took advantage of his opportunity, rushing for 1,387 yards on 7.6 yards per carry and 15 touchdowns. A first-team All-SEC selection, Guice is primed for a huge season. Guice's power-running style is comparable to Fournette's ability to run through contact with a combination of elite strength and speed. Guice's ability to slash through holes and use second-gear speed leaves many wondering just how high his ceiling is. Barkley is the favorite, but the gap between him and Guice is small.

It's best to tackle low against Guice, or he'll make you look foolish.

Nick Chubb, 5'10" and 228 pounds, Georgia:

Chubb was dominating college football, setting a streak of 13 games with at least 110 rushing yards, before his 2015 season was derailed by a gruesome season-ending left knee injury against Tennessee. Chubb is working to regain his physical and powerful running style, but still lacks his second-gear that allowed him to outrun defenses. In 2014, he ran for 1547 yards on 219 carries with 14 touchdowns. In his return from injury last year, Chubb’s numbers dipped to 1130 yards on 224 carries and eight touchdowns. His yards per carry also declined from 7.1 to 5. The well-balanced back will need to regain form if he hopes to be selected in the first round.

Chubb may be the best running back in the draft at running with contact. Defenders bounce off of him while he drives his legs forward for extra yardage.

Chubb shows he doesn't only use physicality to beat defenders. Here he uses quickness and nimble footwork to cut away from the defender.

Akrum Wadley, 5'11" and 195 pounds, Iowa:

Wadley knows how to string together jaw-dropping moves. He’s quick, elusive and shifty in the trenches, possessing a natural ability of making defenders miss. Wadley is a very dangerous running back in space with the repertoire of moves he possesses, always a threat to score. He won't excel as a bruiser, but his deadly cuts and jukes can break ankles at the next level. He must add weight to condition himself for heavier blows by NFL defenders, but after last year's breakout season, he'll continue to climb his way toward his ceiling of potential.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa
Iowa Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley (25) scores a touchdown against the Iowa State Cyclones at Kinnick Stadium.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Sony Michel, 5'11" and 222 pounds, Georgia:

Two incredible talents in one backfield for the same school? Not bad, Georgia. Michel is a less athletically gifted running back than his teammate Chubbs, but his vision and agility creates holes that aren't there. Michel is like a bowling ball, rolling downfield and knocking defenders over like pins. He absorbs contact and always falls forward for extra yardage at the end of the play. He finishes his runs and doesn't shy away from the big hit. He also offers a lot in the receiving game, using above-average hands to catch the ball downfield. He still hasn't reached his ceiling, but he could breakthrough with coaching at the next level. Michel may also benefit from stepping out of Chubbs' shadow.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky
Georgia Bulldogs running back Sony Michel (1) runs the ball against Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Adrian Middleton (99) in the second half at Commonwealth Stadium.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports