Running backs are beginning to change into a uncommon commodity within the first spherical of the NFL Draft. The quick careers on the place — together with the large second contracts — have scared groups away from utilizing a premium choose on a operating again.
Teams are discovering worth on operating backs later within the draft, gamers they do not have to contemplate giving a fifth-year choice. Some of these backs are extra productive than the highest backs chosen within the first spherical, and a few groups are even discovering stars on Day 3 of the draft (see Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler). Day 2 and three of the draft is when groups are likely to put money into operating backs at the moment, as 5 of the top-10 dashing leaders in 2022 had been drafted within the second spherical or later.
No operating backs had been taken within the first spherical within the 2013 and 2014 drafts, a far cry from the 4 operating backs taken within the first spherical in 2000 and the 5 taken in 1990 (when the league had simply 25 groups).
Is taking a operating again within the first spherical even price it anymore, particularly for groups with a top-15 choose? Some groups have taken the chance with operating backs that prime, and others have nonetheless chosen a operating again within the first spherical within the aftermath of the 2014 draft, when none had been taken throughout the first 32 picks.
Which brings up Bijan Robinson, who may very well be the primary operating again taken within the top-10 since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Barkley is the one operating again taken within the top-20 since 2018.
Let’s have a look again at these operating backs taken and whether or not they’re nonetheless with their unique workforce — together with the workforce’s success with that operating again within the fold.
Harris was the primary operating again taken within the 2021 draft, because the Steelers had an instantaneous want for a operating again after shedding James Conner to free company. Responsible for carrying the Steelers offense via many of the season, Harris completed with 307 carries for 1,200 yards and 7 touchdowns (3.9 yards per carry) whereas ending with 74 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns.
Harris led the NFL with 381 touches, probably the most by a rookie operating again with no fumble since 2000, and set franchise data for rookie dashing yards, receptions, and yards from scrimmage (1,667). Harris was a standout for the Steelers in 12 months one.
In 12 months two, Harris rushed for 1,034 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. His yards per receptions went down from 6.3 to five.6 and receiving yards decreased from 467 to 229.
Etienne by no means performed a down in his rookie season, as he suffered a LisFranc damage in August that ended his first 12 months within the NFL. Former Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer had Etienne lined up at large receiver in coaching camp along with his duties at operating again.
Etienne was the breakout operating again within the NFL final season, dashing for 1,125 yards and 5 touchdowns (5.1 yards per carry). He completed with 1,447 yards from scrimmage and averaged 5.7 yards per contact, rating ninth within the league in dashing.
After successful the Super Bowl, the Chiefs had the choice of taking the perfect participant obtainable with the final choose of the primary spherical. They used that choose on Edwards-Helaire, who gave the impression to be a robust match for his or her offense with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce already establishing alternatives for the rookie.
Injuries have gotten the higher of Edwards-Helaire, who has missed a complete of 17 video games via three seasons. He has 371 carries for 1,622 yards and 11 dashing touchdowns in his three seasons (4.4 yards per carry), together with 72 catches for 577 yards and 6 touchdowns. Edwards-Helaire has appeared to fallen out of favor in Kansas City, as he was inactive for the Super Bowl in favor of 2022 seventh-round choose Isiah Pacheco.
D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, and J.Ok. Dobbins had been the operating backs taken proper after Edwards-Helaire — all within the second spherical. Thus far, all of them have had extra productive careers.
The solely operating again chosen within the first spherical of the 2019 draft, Jacobs has been very productive in his 4 seasons with the franchise. Jacobs began his profession with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, however this previous season was his best.
Jacobs was the NFL dashing champion and arguably the best again within the one 12 months he was with Josh McDaniels, dashing for 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns. He additionally led the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,053 and was the primary Raiders participant since 1985 to win the league dashing title.
Through 4 seasons, Jacobs has recorded 1,042 carries for 4,740 yards and 40 touchdowns — tied for fourth within the league in dashing yards and touchdowns. No operating again was taken after Jacobs till Miles Sanders at No. 53 — and arguably Jacobs has had the extra productive profession.
Jacobs is the cream of the crop within the 2019 operating again class.
Barkley is the very best operating again drafted since Reggie Bush went No. 2 general in 2006. Injuries and a poor offensive line have taken away Barkley’s capacity to change into a sport changer, which he was in his rookie season for the Giants.
Leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,028), Barkley was the Offensive Rookie of the Year after he completed with 261 carries for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns (5.0 yards per carry) and had 91 catches for 721 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had probably the most 100 yards from scrimmage video games by a rookie (12) and tied Randy Moss for probably the most 50-yard touchdowns by a rookie (5).
Barkley missed 22 video games over the following three years, but nonetheless turned the primary Giants operating again to document 1,000 dashing yards in his first two seasons. Two separate ankle sprains and a torn ACL since 2019 have restricted Barkley, which is why groups warning drafting a operating again that prime.
Barkley has simply 181 carries for 627 yards (3.5 yards per carry) and two dashing touchdowns between 2020 and 2021, with solely 47 catches for 323 yards and two touchdowns — but had a profession resurgence in 2022. Barkley set a profession excessive in dashing yards (1,312) in a Pro Bowl season, ending with 10 touchdowns.
Injuries have gotten the perfect of Penny in his quick profession, as a torn ACL and quite a few knee strains restricted Penny to only 27 video games over his first three seasons. Penny had simply 161 carries for 863 yards and 5 touchdowns in that stretch, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
When Penny’s wholesome, he is been productive. Look no additional than the 2021 season when Penny lastly was wholesome sufficient to begin for the Seahawks. Penny completed his 2021 season with 119 carries for 749 yards and 6 touchdowns — main the NFL with 6.3 yards per carry. In the ultimate 5 video games, Penny had 92 carries for 671 yards and 6 touchdowns — an unimaginable 7.3 yards per carry.
Penny had 57 carries for 346 yards and two touchdowns final season (6.1 yards per carry) earlier than taking place with a fractured tibia — and being misplaced for the 12 months. In Penny’s final 10 video games, he has 149 carries for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns — an astonishing 6.8 yards per carry. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.
The Patriots took Michel late within the first spherical in an effort to enhance their operating sport. Michel had each alternative to earn the No. 1 operating again job in New England, however ultimately took a backseat to Damien Harris (a 2019 third-round choose).
Michel completed with 535 carries for two,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in his three seasons in New England, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He rushed for 336 yards and 6 touchdowns within the 2018 playoffs, setting the NFL document for many postseason dashing touchdowns by a rookie.
Foot surgical procedure and a quad pressure allowed Harris to assert the No. 1 job from Michel, and the Patriots traded him to the Los Angeles Rams previous to the 2021 season. Michel stepped up within the wake of Cam Akers damage, dashing 208 instances for 845 yards and 4 touchdowns (4.1 yards per carry) — incomes a second Super Bowl ring within the course of.
Michel had 36 carries for 106 yards and no touchdowns (2.9 yards per carry) for the Los Angeles Chargers final season.
No. 4 general, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette had loads of hype popping out of LSU, sufficient to be taken within the prime 5. He made a huge effect on the Jacksonville offense in his rookie season, dashing for 1,040 yards and 9 touchdowns regardless of averaging simply 3.9 yards per carry. “Playoff Lenny” was born that season, as Fournette rushed for 4 touchdowns and 242 yards in three playoff video games.
A hamstring pressure restricted Fournette in 12 months two (averaged 3.4 yards per carry), however he posted his second 1,000-yard season in 2019 by dashing for 1,152 yards and three touchdowns (4.3 yards per carry) whereas additionally having a stunning 76 catches for 522 yards.
The Jaguars surprisingly minimize Fournette previous to the 2020 season, which resulted in him signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fournette made his impression felt within the playoffs by dashing for 300 yards and three touchdowns and having 148 receiving yards and a landing — rising because the No. 1 again.
Fournette has 4,478 dashing yards and 34 touchdowns in six seasons (4.0 yards per carry) to go along with 2,219 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. A free agent for the fourth time at 28, Fournette hasn’t lived as much as the standing as a No. 4 general choose, however he is a serviceable operating again within the league. He additionally has 858 yards from scrimmage and 11 complete touchdowns in eight playoff video games.
McCaffrey is without doubt one of the greatest gamers within the league — when wholesome. He already owns or shares seven NFL data, together with changing into the primary operating again to have 100 receptions in a season twice, and he is the third participant in league historical past to have 1,000 dashing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a season (Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk are the others).
McCaffrey’s 2019 season garnered him first-team All-Pro honors, as he completed with 287 carries for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns (4.8 yards per carry) whereas catching 116 passes for 1,005 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 403 touches for two,392 yards and 19 touchdowns every led the league.
Through three seasons, McCaffrey had 2,920 yards and 24 dashing touchdowns (4.7 yards per carry) whereas having 303 catches for 2,523 yards and 15 touchdowns. That’s 5,443 yards from scrimmage and 39 touchdowns.
Ankle, hamstring, and shoulder accidents restricted McCaffrey to only 10 video games between 2020 and 2021. McCaffrey has 667 dashing yards and 6 touchdowns, whereas catching 54 passes for 492 yards and two touchdowns in that stretch. He was traded from the Panthers to the San Francisco 49ers in 2022, the place he rushed for 746 yards and 6 touchdowns (4.7 yards per carry) in his 11 video games with the workforce — additionally having 464 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
McCaffrey has rejuvenated his profession with the 49ers, having 1,210 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in 11 video games. He’s nonetheless a matchup nightmare for defenses.
Elliott lived as much as his draft standing in Dallas, even when he is not the identical participant he was his first three seasons within the league. A distinction maker for the Cowboys, Elliott led the NFL in dashing yards per sport in every of his first three seasons — totaling 4,048 yards and 28 touchdowns in 40 video games (4.7 yards per carry). Elliott was second in rookie of the 12 months voting and a first-team All-Pro in his rookie season, having 322 carries for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Elliott has 4 1,000-yard seasons, two All-Pro picks, and three Pro Bowl picks in his profession. He’s rushed for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns whereas having 2,336 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s 10,598 yards and 80 touchdowns in 103 video games.
Since Elliott signed his large six-year, $90 million contract in 2019, he has 4,214 dashing yards and 40 touchdowns in 63 video games. His 66.8 dashing yards per sport during the last 4 seasons is a big decline over the 101.2 dashing yards per sport in his first three seasons.
Elliott was arguably the worst beginning operating again within the league final season, ending final within the NFL in yards per carry (3.8), tackles prevented (32), and share of runs that went for 10-plus yards (7.4%). His rushing-yards-per-game numbers have declined every season because of the variety of touches gathered over the course of his profession, averaging a career-low 58.4 dashing yards per sport and three.8 yards per carry in 2022.
He is at present a free agent.
No. 10 general, St. Louis Rams
Gurley was out of the league at 27 years previous, but was arguably the perfect operating again in soccer earlier than accidents began to plaque him. The 2015 Associated Press Rookie of the Year, Gurley rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns (4.8 yards per carry) in incomes second-team All-Pro honors in his rookie 12 months.
Taking over the league when Sean McVay turned the pinnacle coach of the Rams, Gurley rushed for two,556 yards and 30 touchdowns within the 2017 and 2018 seasons — because the Rams gained two NFC West titles and superior to Super Bowl LIII. Gurley additionally had 123 catches for 1,368 yards and 10 touchdowns throughout that stretch.
Gurley’s decline began close to the top of the 2018 season and spiraled instantly after — because the knee points performed a task in his manufacturing being diminished. Of the ten operating backs with 400-plus carries from the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Gurley was final in yards per carry (3.67) and dashing yards (1,535). Yet, he was fourth in dashing touchdowns (21) throughout that span.
Gurley has three 1,000-yard seasons, two first-team All-Pro Selections, three Pro Bowls, and an Offensive Player of the Year award. He led the league in dashing touchdowns and scrimmage touchdowns twice — and yards from scrimmage as soon as. Yet, Gurley is out of soccer after simply six seasons.
The Chargers took a shot on Gordon in the course of the primary spherical after a standout profession at Wisconsin. Gordon hasn’t been a celebrity, however he is a two-time Pro Bowl choice and has been a dependable again within the league.
Gordon rushed for six,144 yards and 53 touchdowns in his first seven seasons within the league. He’s had one 1,000-yard season (2017) and two double-digit landing seasons (2016, 2018) — not having a season underneath 600 yards regardless of having 4 seasons underneath 4.0 yards per carry.
Gordon performed 5 years with the Chargers earlier than signing a two-year deal in free company with the Denver Broncos. He’s rushed for 1,904 yards and 17 touchdowns (4.6 yards per carry) in his first two seasons in Denver, thriving in a operating back-by-committee strategy moderately than because the No. 1 again. He returned to Denver in 2022, dashing for 318 yards and two touchdowns in 10 video games (3.5 yards per carry) earlier than being launched.
Having 8,929 yards from scrimmage and 69 scrimmage touchdowns in his profession (eight seasons), Gordon was a dependable again within the league. Just turning 30, it is going to be attention-grabbing to see the place Gordon results in 2023.
Leave a Reply