The running back position has become seemingly undervalued over the past decade. There was once a point where drafting a running back in the first round was heavily frowned upon.
This year’s draft could break a trend that has only seen several exceptions in recent years. The headliner of this year’s class is Saquon Barkley from Penn State. He is in the mold of Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley who were also first round picks.
Barkley is projected to follow in the footsteps of Elliott and Fournette as a top-5 pick. LSU standout Derrius Guice also has potential to be picked in the back half of the first round. Last year, Christian McCaffrey felt like an exception to the rule because of his great receiving abilities.
McCaffrey and Fournette were the first running back duo drafted in the top-10 picks since 2005. There likely won’t be two backs drafted in the top-10 in April, however this year’s class could see multiple guys drafted within the first 50 picks.
Players such as Ronald Jones, Bryce Love, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Rashaad Penny, Kerryon Johnson, Damien Harris, and Mark Walton all have chance to be Day 2 picks, with several of them going in the top-50.
This is a draft that the NFL community could look back on and see anywhere from five to seven starting running backs in the future. This influx of talent at the running back position, along with the success of players such as Le’veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Leonard Fournette, could be shifting offenses right before our eyes.
Each of this year’s prospects brings different traits and styles to the field. All have ability to be successful players in this league. The draft process will be very important for some of these guys. Thriving in the NFL Combine, pro days, and individual workouts will only improve their stock.
It’s still early in draft season, and things will only get more interesting from here!