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Draft analyst: Ka’Deem Carey could ‘very much’ be top running back selected

Ka'Deem Carey ran 48 times for 206 yards and four TDs in a upset of fifth-ranked Oregon. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ka’Deem Carey ran 48 times for 206 yards and four TDs in a upset of fifth-ranked Oregon. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats junior running back Ka’Deem Carey announced Monday he is entering the NFL Draft, and no one can blame him, considering what’s in his immediate future.

Carey is among a small group vying to be the first running back selected in the NFL Draft.

“He and Washington’s Bishop Sankey are the most well-rounded running backs in this class,” said senior analyst Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com. “LSU Jeremy Hill, in my opinion, has the most exciting traits, but he comes with significant off-field baggage.”

Hill, who also announced Monday he would enter the draft, has twice pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges — for unlawful carnal knowledge of an underage female and for punching a fellow student outside a bar.

Carey had his legal trouble last year — misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges were dismissed over the summer — and Rang says he’s hearing that won’t be a major red flag with NFL scouts.

“From what I understand, he’s a pretty good kid who made a couple of mistakes,” Rang said. “I don’t believe teams are going to view him in a negative light. I view Ka’Deem as rock solid.”

Rang added that Carey’s work ethic is known to be a plus among NFL teams.

After carrying the ball 743 times for 4,239 yards and 48 touchdowns at Arizona and being a two-time consensus All-American, there’s not much more Carey could prove in college. He led the nation in rushing in 2012 and finished second to Boston College’s Andre Williams in 2013.

Rang said Carey (5-foot-10) helped himself this season by bulking up about 10 pounds to 207.

“He’s a much more physical running back now. That’s one of the things I really like about him,” Rang said. “He’s become more of a grinder and a finisher. … He’s a bigger, stronger player.”

Carey’s 40-yard time isn’t expected to wow anybody, but Rang doesn’t figure it will be a detriment, either. Carey should run something in the 4.5-second range.

“From watching him on tape, I think he can run a 4.5 all day long,” Rang said. “He might even break the 4.49 mark with the training that he’ll do.”

Speed isn’t Carey’s best attribute. What makes Carey attractive is that he does everything well — run, block, catch, work, finish — and can be a three-down back in the NFL, as he was at Arizona. He had 77 career catches with the Wildcats and had the ability for many more, if he wasn’t busy carrying the ball so much.

“He’s not just an interior or exterior runner. He can do everything,” Rang said. “That’s arguably his greatest strength, that he can do it all.”

NFLDraftScout.com does project Carey as the No. 1 running back available, giving him a second-round grade (No. 41 overall), although there are still four months until the draft, plenty of time to move up or slide down. Gil Brandt of NFL.com ranks the running backs like this:

1. Jeremy Hill, LSU
2. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
2A. Tre Mason, Auburn
4. Bishop Sankey, Washington
5. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State

No running back was selected in the first round of last season’s draft, and the position hasn’t been in demand as much as the NFL trends toward more of a passing league. Giovani Bernard was the first running back chosen in the 2013 draft, going No. 37 overall (the fifth pick of the second round). He signed a four-year, $5.25 million contract.

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