There are many traditions that that are practiced without ever asking, why are we doing this? We may do it because of family pressure or not wanting to break away from the pack and venture out on our own. But thinking for yourself and drawing your own conclusions is a valuable skill that once put to practice, can make you a leader rather than a follower stuck in mediocrity.
Well what does this have to do with the NFL Draft? Easy, There are many long standing customs or beliefs that have been been adopted without question over the years when it comes drafting Running backs. But the philosophy has not been updated with with the times. In recent years, the nfl has seen a drastic shift from the “3 yards and a cloud of dust” Woody Hayes offense, to a high-flying QB driven league. As a result the need for running backs has tremendously diminished. Over the course of years, ideologies and traditions are cyclical, but the stage of the cycle that we find ourselves in today, is one that clearly states that one of the biggest mistakes you can make today, is drafting a running back in the first round of the NFL draft.
The 2017 NFL Draft class includes a myriad of talented backs like Dalvin Cook, Christian MccAffrey, and Joe Mixon (assuming he keeps his hands to himself), And not to forget one of the greatest RB prospects since Adrian Peterson in Leonard Fournette. However not to diminish the fact that these guys can end up being good to great NFL players. Statistics over the past decade prove that taking a back in the first round is the quickest way to fail at the ultimate goal, winning a coveted championship.
So let’s dive in. Why your team shouldn’t draft a RB in the first round.
Would you invest your hard earned cash into a long standing and stable mutual fund? Or a penny-stock? Sounds obvious, but NFL teams make that same mistake every year. The average NFL career of a running back is less than 3 years, and rightfully so, because that position takes a beating nearly every offensive down.
Since 2007, there have been 19 rbs taken in the first round. Some names that come to mind are Beanie Wells, Felix Jones, Knowshon Moreno, CJ Spiller, Trent Richardson, just to name a few… They have all averaged less than 900 yards/yr from scrimmage. Of these 19, 7 of them have had seasons rushing for more than 1000 yards. Here is a jarring stat that drives home the point, 11 of the 19, at the time of this post, are not even in the league anymore…. And of the other 8 surviving, 3 of them have been in the league less than the average shelf life of a rb at less than 3 years so far. So for the sake of this argument, if we excluded those 3, that is 11 of 16, or about a 30% of those rbs surviving longer than 3 seasons. A team’s investment of a first round pick has got to net you a better return than a 30% chance of hitting a home run. This isn’t baseball where getting a hit 3 out of 10 times makes you a hall of famer, you have to hit more times than not if you want to be successful as a team.
Just think of the some of the rbs that have won super bowls in the past 10 years.
Legarrette Blount w/ Pats x2, CJ Anderson – Broncos, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs w/ Giants, James Starks w/Packers, WIllie Parker w/Steelers, Marshawn Lynch w/ Seahawks.
None, and i mean NONE of these players, were either drafted or acquired by the team they won with for anything more than a 4th round pick. Think about that, nothing MORE than a 4th round pick was required to get these players on their SB winning teams. To make it even more interesting, 4 of the 10 winners of the big game over the last decade were undrafted. Not even worth a pick at the time they were eligible. The path to the lombardi has officially shifted to a league where the RB (especially first round ones) is inconsequential.
To further prove the point, in 2013 and 2014, the league started to figure out that RB’s are statistically a wasted 1 round draft pick. In both of those drafts not one rb was taking in the first round. But the talent that was taken in later rounds included Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard, Le’Veon Bell, Christine Michael, Carlos Hyde, Latavius Murray, Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue, James White, Devonta Freeman, Terrance West. The list goes on. There is running back talent out there, but it’s not in the first round. In fact, in the past 5 drafts combined, only 3 rbs have been taken in the first 14 picks, which shows that teams are getting the memo when it comes the the terrible return on investment when it comes to taking running backs early in this pass-happy leauge.
I know, i know, the elephant in the room is screaming at the top of its lungs about players like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott…and they are very good players… They’ve actually kind of revitalized the notion that first round running backs are worth the investment. But the truth is… they are not… Gurley has come back to earth some after teams figured out how to play him defensively, and Elliott is playing behind the best offensive line in football. So using them as arguments to bring back RBs dont hold water.
It is quite possible that until the offensive climate on the football field shifts again, we may have seen the last of more than one or two top rb prospects being drafted in the first round. Where in years past, 5-7 rbs were being taken routinely in the first round. RB is too volatile a position. It is most often the most injury prone position. At some point in every Rbs career, they will need some type of surgery to repair something, which means time away from the game. Even the all time greats deal with injury. Adrian Peterson has had collarbone, knee, hamstring, back, ankle, foot, calf, shoulder abdomen and groin injuries. Peterson, by all accounts, is a bonafide freak of nature, but if that back you been having your eye on isnt as resilient as Peterson, dont even look his way come draft day.
Simply put, the biggest mistake your favorite team can make is drafting a RB in the first round. They are not worth it in fantasy or Real life.
I’m Cover2Chris and I’m out!