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Broncos could take "long look" at RB Johnathan Franklin

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UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin is shooting up draft boards and has been linked to the Denver Broncos.

Stephen Dunn

The debate about which running back will be first taken off the boards during the 2013 NFL Draft is getting hotter as the First Round on Thursday, April 25 approaches. UCLA's Johnathan Franklin is picking up steam.

Franklin is drawing comparisons to Frank Gore and Doug Martin and may be drafted ahead of Alabama's Eddie Lacy, NFL Draft Insider Tony Pauline reports --

Franklin (5-10, 205) is projected as a three-down back after showing flashes of being the total package at UCLA. Last week, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora said he expects Franklin to be the first back taken off the board, and Rotoworld even suggests "the Broncos could give him a long look at No. 28."

Until now, Alabama's Eddie Lacy has been the consensus top running back on draft boards, but a rough workout season following a hamstring injury may have hurt his stock. Lacy missed the combine and Alabama's pro day and had a disappointing workout a few weeks ago, raising questions about his preparedness and work ethic (but not enough to overwhelmingly knock him off the top of RB boards).

There's a good chance Lacy would also be available for the Broncos at the 28th overall pick. Mike Klis of the Denver Post even mock-drafted Lacy to the Broncos in the LA Times' annual beat writer mock draft just this weekend.

Running back might be the missing piece to turning this Broncos offense from an excellent offense to a Championship offense. If the Broncos fall in love with a running back enough to take one in the first round, there's a good chance I would too...