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Lions NFL combine preview: Running backs

The NFL’s annual scouting combine begins next week, so we’re going to take you through every position at the combine and give brief profiles of players the Detroit Lions may be looking at in Indianapolis.

The bios are working off a best guess of who the Lions might peek at based off round, skill and need – although all of the invites from the official site will be listed at the bottom.

Previous draft previews by position.

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska (5-9, 190): Rated as the No. 6 running back and No. 60 player overall by ESPN. He has three straight 1,000-yard seasons as a running back. He can be a dual-threat as a runner and a receiver after catching 65 passes for 616 yards and six touchdowns in his career. There’s also return experience as he handled kick returns all four years at Nebraska and punt returns for two years. Accumulated 6,700 all-purpose yards in his career.

Jay Ajayi, Boise State (6-0, 216): Rated as the No. 4 running back and No. 67 player overall by ESPN. He carried the ball 678 times for 3,796 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career. He has receiving skills as well with 73 catches for 771 yards and five touchdowns. He is listed as above average by ESPN/Scouts Inc. in most categories and exceptional in the passing game. His footwork is also going to be good due to his soccer background growing up in England and potentially having a chance to try out for the Nigerian national team. He could be a nice mid-round pick for Detroit.

Cameron Artis-Payne (5-10, 210): Rated as the No. 15 running back and No. 150 player overall by ESPN. Averaged 5.3 yards per rush for Auburn this year, totaling 1,608 yards and 13 touchdowns. Played behind Tre Mason in 2013, so didn’t see much work. Was at junior college before that.

David Cobb, Minnesota (5-11, 225): Rated as the No. 13 running back and No. 145 player overall by ESPN. He had two straight 1,000-yard seasons, including a 1,626-yard, 13-touchdown year in 2014. Not much of a receiving threat based on college numbers and didn’t handle returns in college. Has good speed, though.

Tevin Coleman, Indiana (6-1, 210): Rated the No. 3 running back and No. 38 player overall by ESPN. He is an explosive player who can be a running and receiving threat after gaining 2,036 yards in 2014. Coleman was a Doak Walker finalist in 2014 and had four 200-yard games in 2014. He also has return experience from his first two years at Indiana.

Mike Davis, South Carolina (5-9, 223): Rated the No. 9 running back and No. 89 player overall by ESPN. He is a run-receiving threat who doesn’t have some of the wear other backs have. He ran over 200 times only once in three seasons at South Carolina. He had 982 yards rushing and 368 yards receiving in 2014 after a 1,183-yard season in 2013.

Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin (6-1, 213): He’s the No. 1 running back and No. 17 player overall by ESPN. He won the Doak Walker Award and was a Heisman finalist. His 2,587 yards in 2014 were the second-most in a single season in FBS history behind Barry Sanders in 1988. For a feature back doesn’t have a ton of mileage -- only 631 career carries for 4,915 yards and 45 touchdowns.

Duke Johnson, Miami (FL) (5-9, 206): Rated the No. 7 running back and No. 49 player overall by ESPN. Had three straight years of over 900 yards rushing, including 1,652 as a junior. Can catch passes, as he had 69 receptions for 719 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons. He returned kicks his freshman and sophomore years as well.

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State (5-11, 206): Rated as the No. 11 running back and No. 110 player overall by ESPN. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but not much of a pass catching threat.

TJ Yeldon, Alabama (6-2, 221): Rated the No. 5 running back and No. 54 player overall by ESPN. In three years, he ran for 3,322 yards and 37 touchdowns, although had less than 1,000 yards in his final season. His best season was his sophomore year, when he ran for 1,235 yards.

Others invited to the combine: Buck Allen, USC; Dominique Brown, Louisville; Malcolm Brown, Texas; Mike Burton, Rutgers (FB); B.J. Catalon, TCU; John Crockett, North Dakota State; Michael Dyer, Louisville; Jahwan Edwards, Ball State; Jalston Fowler, Alabama (FB); Dee Hart, Colorado State; Braylon Heard, Kentucky; Kenny Hilliard, LSU; Joey Iosefa, Hawaii; David Johnson, Northern Iowa; Gus Johnson, Stephen F. Austin; Matt Jones, Florida; Terrence Magee, LSU; Marcus Murphy, Missouri; Thomas Rawls, Central Michigan; Josh Robinson, Mississippi State; Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette; Tyler Varga, Yale; Karlos Williams, Florida State; Trey Williams, Texas A&M; Zach Zenner, South Dakota State.