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Bill Polian is high on first-round running backs

Bill Polian AP

In Bill Polian’s years as an NFL general manager, he spent first-round draft picks on running backs five times: Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown with the Colts, Tim Biakabutuka with the Panthers and Ronnie Harmon with the Bills. Some of those picks were hits and some were misses, but Polian says he has no doubt that running back is a position that should be addressed in the first round of the draft.

Polian said today on Mike and Mike in the Morning that, contrary to the opinion of those who believe running backs have been devalued and aren’t worth a first-round pick, it’s actually just the opposite. Polian believes that as teams are increasingly finding that they need to replace their running backs often, that means the time to get a good one is when he’s young.

“I think that’s an urban lengend and I don’t know where it got started,” Polian said. “Here’s the real scoop: Running backs have short careers. They burn out very quickly because of the pounding they take, and in today’s game you really need two of them. So where do you get the best value on a running back? When he’s coming out of college. You don’t get value for him as a free agent, or very few, because the bottom line is he doesn’t have much tread left on his tires, especially if he’s played a lot. The best time to get a running back is in the draft.”

Last year only one running back, Mark Ingram, was selected in the first round, and this year some draft projections show only one running back, Trent Richardson, going in the first round. Polian liked the Ingram pick for New Orleans and will like whatever team gets Richardson.

“The Mark Ingram pick last year and the trade for that was a great pick for the Saints,” Polian said. “Trent Richardson by all accounts, including whatever mine is worth, is the best back in this draft, and he has some really great qualities, not the least of which is his incredible toughness. So he’s a great pick. I would be looking to take him.”

Running back may have been devalued, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value at running back. Especially when it’s a running back like Richardson, who’s only 20 years old and just entering his prime.

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40 Responses to “Bill Polian is high on first-round running backs”
  1. ozz2012 says: Apr 19, 2012 9:38 AM

    Shut up NaPolian. You haven’t had a good draft in years! See – 2011 Indianapolis Colts

  2. rarelyclever says: Apr 19, 2012 9:47 AM

    You can get a good running back in literally any round of the draft. These guys were never quarterbacks, never linebackers, they’ve been running backs since they were children. They all know how to run the football. They’re all good athletes. There’s so little difference between most of them and the shelf life is so short that it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to take one in the first round.

  3. touchdownroddywhite says: Apr 19, 2012 9:47 AM

    Yes, Bill Polian is high on RB’s in the first round. Does this help explain last year’s debacle? Hmmm…

  4. thecarline says: Apr 19, 2012 9:52 AM

    I came for the drug confession from Bill Polian, I left when I found out he was talking about his drafting abilities.

  5. oldspice1010 says: Apr 19, 2012 9:56 AM

    This is the exact same problem with NaPolian, refusal to move on with times and change his strategy based on new trends/realities. He was great for a while but that stubborn attitude is what caused his downfall.

    No it is not an urban myth, just look at the data.

  6. ytsejamer1 says: Apr 19, 2012 9:57 AM

    “….So he’s a great pick. I would be looking to take him.”
    ———————

    So says a GM that just got fired a couple months ago…take it for what its worth I guess!

  7. 4moze says: Apr 19, 2012 9:58 AM

    Yet the colts passed over taking Ingram in the draft…

  8. cakemixa says: Apr 19, 2012 10:13 AM

    He’s also no longer employed as a GM now.

  9. auburntigers34 says: Apr 19, 2012 10:13 AM

    “In Bill Polian’s years as an NFL general manager, he spent first-round draft picks on running backs five times: Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown with the Colts, Tim Biakabutuka with the Panthers and Ronnie Harmon with the Bills. “Some of those picks were hits and some were misses, but Polian says he has no doubt that running back is a position that should be addressed in the first round of the draft

    does “some”= 1?

  10. zillabeast says: Apr 19, 2012 10:14 AM

    Dare you to say Tim Biakabatuka ten times fast

  11. AlanSaysYo says: Apr 19, 2012 10:19 AM

    I’m not buying this. Sure, you should get a running back in the draft instead of free agency. That doesn’t mean you need to spend your first round pick on a running back. That would be something you’d do when you have a franchise QB and are in perennial contention, but let’s be honest, only 4 or 5 teams are in that situation, and none of them got to where they are by spending first round picks on running backs.

    And how can Polian say that the Saints trading up for Ingram was a good pick? Ingram got like 12 touches a game in a 3-back rotation, and he wasn’t even the starter. You’re telling me you couldn’t find a big back much later in the draft to give 12 touches per game? And instead you traded UP for one? Ingram is a good player, and would probably be a great player on another team that’s serious about the running game. But for the Saints’ needs, they overspent.

  12. peytonsneck18 says: Apr 19, 2012 10:35 AM

    That’s why he’s with espn now, he drafted as Barkley would say TUUURBEL the past few years, Hughes from TCU. Brown from UCONN ….etc etc Krueger face messed my colts up

  13. popolover says: Apr 19, 2012 10:39 AM

    All Polian is doing is trying to get as much press out there on himself as possible. His whole entire goal is to get his little Chrissy another job.

    No fooling everyone Bill.

  14. rtbragg5 says: Apr 19, 2012 10:50 AM

    auburntigers34 says:
    Apr 19, 2012 10:13 AM
    “In Bill Polian’s years as an NFL general manager, he spent first-round draft picks on running backs five times: Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown with the Colts, Tim Biakabutuka with the Panthers and Ronnie Harmon with the Bills. “Some of those picks were hits and some were misses, but Polian says he has no doubt that running back is a position that should be addressed in the first round of the draft

    does “some”= 1?

    ————————————————-

    That is great! ^^^^^

    Didn’t Polian HATE the media while he was a GM? I find it a little funny that he jumped right on over to ESPN.

  15. rtbragg5 says: Apr 19, 2012 10:51 AM

    Also Polian was going to draft Maurice Jones Drew instead of Addai how’d not taking him work out for you?

  16. suite34 says: Apr 19, 2012 10:58 AM

    It’s a question of value. I don’t think Polian is saying he would have taken Ingram with the #1 pick, but in the 20s when it’s the choice between the #1 back in the draft or the 5th best cornerback, you take the back.

  17. Patskrieg dot com says: Apr 19, 2012 10:58 AM

    Take it from the guy who passed on LeSean McCoy to draft Donald Brown in the first round.

  18. jbcommonsense says: Apr 19, 2012 10:59 AM

    Having an explosive RB keeps pass defenses honest. So if another Adrian Petersen is available and you decide not to take him, based on the reasoning that good RBs will be around in later rounds, that’s just foolish. Any team with the need and the opportunity should go ahead and draft Richardson early in the 1st round.

  19. truthfactory says: Apr 19, 2012 11:05 AM

    This is exactly why this guy should have been out of the league years ago. No one is saying that getting a good young RB isnt important or unnecessary, but the point is that he ignored so many other needs that needed to be addressed in round 1 and took 2 rbs in round 1 when they could have gotten a good one in round 3 or 4

  20. sin101 says: Apr 19, 2012 11:27 AM

    1st round running backs are more likely be a good blocker.Which is what keeps most rookie backs off the field.

  21. codenamez says: Apr 19, 2012 11:33 AM

    How many of the elite RB’s in the NFL were 1st round picks? AP, Chris Johnson & Steven Jackson? Elite RB’s not in the first round? Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, MJD, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Fred Jackson.

    RB’s drafted in the 1st round last 5 years, Mark Ingram, Jahvid Best, Ryan Mathews, CJ Spiller, Beanie Wells, Donald Brown, Knoshown Moreno, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Johnathan Stewart.

    What about that list screams “gotta draft a RB in the first round”?

  22. buckybadger says: Apr 19, 2012 11:36 AM

    The Saints got a player that was really no better then the guys already on the team and now have no 1st rounder this year and he thinks this was a good move? I think you just shut yourself out of the league for a long time. Between that stupid comment and putting the Colts in bad position Salary Cap wise it is no wonder he is not working now.

  23. keendesignsinc says: Apr 19, 2012 11:37 AM

    Just because it’s better to get a RB young doesn’t mean it has to be in the 1st round in the draft. The value of RB’s has indeed dropped, finding serviceable gems in later rounds or even off the streets has worked really well for a lot of teams

  24. buckybadger says: Apr 19, 2012 11:38 AM

    If you take a RB in the 1st round he better be a special player. You can’t bust drafting a RB because there are so many you can find later.

  25. maddog111 says: Apr 19, 2012 11:47 AM

    truthfactory says:
    Apr 19, 2012 11:05 AM
    This is exactly why this guy should have been out of the league years ago. No one is saying that getting a good young RB isnt important or unnecessary, but the point is that he ignored so many other needs that needed to be addressed in round 1 and took 2 rbs in round 1 when they could have gotten a good one in round 3 or 4
    ————————————————
    His team was in the Super Bowl 3 years ago. Won the Super Bowl 3 years before that. Until last year, the Colts had won 10 or more games in 11 of the last 12 years.

    I don’t agree with him on this issue, but to say he should have been out of the league years ago is assinine.

  26. Jim says: Apr 19, 2012 11:50 AM

    Ronnie Harmon was a great pick….

    For Cleveland

  27. KIR says: Apr 19, 2012 12:01 PM

    Just because a great RB wasn’t drafted in the first round doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have been drafted in the first round. That just shows GM poor drafting. Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round and Kurt Warner was a free agent. Again, just because they were not drafted in the first round doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have been selected in the first round. There are about 12 running backs that if they were redrated in the year they were drated NFL GM’s would gadly take them in the 1st round. What does that they you?

  28. z0inks says: Apr 19, 2012 12:59 PM

    Here’s an interesting fact: none of the NFL’s top six rushers last year were former first round picks.

    1) MJD – 2nd round
    2) Ray Rice – 2nd round
    3) Michael Turner – 5th round
    4) Lesean McCoy – 2nd round
    5) Arian Foster – UDFA
    6) Frank Gore – 3rd round

    Sure, there are running backs who possess first-round talent; Richardson is one of those guys, as was Ingram.

    The question is, given the same opportunities, will that player’s impact be significantly greater or make the team significantly better than a RB drafted in the second or third round? And is the difference between them enough to justify using a first round pick rather than waiting a round or two?

  29. andymannfl says: Apr 19, 2012 1:00 PM

    Getting one young doesn’t mean having to spend a first rounder. The fact is there have historically been stars found at that position in later rounds and undrafted. If you’re going to invest a first rounder, you’d like that asset to play for you for more than 5 years.

  30. tommccrossin says: Apr 19, 2012 1:09 PM

    Maybe the “urban legend” got started when none of the top 6 rushers in 2012 were drafted in the first round.. Just a thought though

  31. brasho says: Apr 19, 2012 1:09 PM

    KIR says:Apr 19, 2012 12:01 PM

    Just because a great RB wasn’t drafted in the first round doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have been drafted in the first round. That just shows GM poor drafting. Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round and Kurt Warner was a free agent. Again, just because they were not drafted in the first round doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have been selected in the first round. There are about 12 running backs that if they were redrated in the year they were drated NFL GM’s would gadly take them in the 1st round. What does that they you?

    ++++++++++++++++++

    “If you could redraft”… but you can’t. If you could redraft a lot things would have happened. This rationale is absurd.

    Considering Polian sported a lousy 20% success rate with 1st round RBs, you would think he would have learned his lesson… and can see now why he’s out of a job.

  32. khuxford says: Apr 19, 2012 1:28 PM

    Sad that RBs apparently will no longer recognize their fair market value, as most of their career will be tied up by the rookie scale and there being little real competition to sign a RB with 5 years of tread off their tires.

    I wonder if agents will try to get their RB clients to sign shorter rookie contracts, if that is even possible.

  33. killxswitch says: Apr 19, 2012 1:40 PM

    Of course he is. This is the same has-been gasbag that drafted Donald Brown in the 1st round. I’m so glad this loser isn’t running my team into the ground anymore.

  34. killxswitch says: Apr 19, 2012 1:52 PM

    maddog111 says: Apr 19, 2012 11:47 AM
    ————————————————
    PEYTON MANNING’S team was in the Super Bowl 3 years ago. Won the Super Bowl 3 years before that. Until last year, the Colts had won 10 or more games in 11 of the last 12 years.

    ——————

    Fixed that for you. Please don’t act like Polian’s roster building prowess is the reason the Colts were successful. Did you actually watch any Colts games last year?

  35. bearsfan6060 says: Apr 19, 2012 1:57 PM

    This idea that you can find a star running back late in the draft is not backed up by the actual facts. Most of the starting (or star) running backs in the league were drafted in the first couple of rounds. From 2000 to 2011 there were 42 running backs taken in the 7th round of the draft. Of those exactly 1 became a regular starter/star (Ahmad Bradshaw). A couple of guys have had success (Rock Cartright, Peyton Hillis) and the rest are RBs you’ve never heard of. The record in the first round in significantly better. That doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a star just because he is picked in the first round, it just means your odds are better.

    Your best chance to get a starter/star at RB, or any other position for that matter, is early in the draft.

    And using Bradshaw or Arian Foster as an example of RBs you can find late in drafts is kind of like saying, “of course you can find a hall of fame quarterback late in the draft” and then siting Tom Brady as your example. True, but good luck basing your draft strategy around that idea.

  36. majikalmushr0om says: Apr 19, 2012 2:03 PM

    Clearly first-round running backs isn’t the only thing he is high on.

  37. blackstonevalleykettlebells says: Apr 19, 2012 3:19 PM

    Who’s Bill Polian? Oh yeah, that guy who would have temper tantrums in other people’s stadia and act like he invented football because Peyton Manning has piggy backed him for the last 13 years. Florio, why are you wasting valuable space on this old coot?

  38. alldonesmith says: Apr 19, 2012 3:36 PM

    All you have to do to assess Bill Polian’s talent-evaluating ability is look at what happened last season when Manning didn’t play. Peyton has been carrying that team for YEARS with 40-45 garbage players behind him on the roster. If Polian hadn’t had the luxury of picking Peyton first overall, I’m willing to bet we’d be talking about this guy like we talk about Matt Millen.

    Out of the 5 RBs listed in this article, only Edge was worth anything. If anything, my belief that you don’t take a RB in the first round unless he’s the next AP is only reinforced by Polian’s opinion you should.

  39. Match Point Floppy says: Apr 19, 2012 3:47 PM

    “The Mark Ingram pick last year and the trade for that was a great pick for the Saints,” Polian said.

    Starting to see why he got fired.

  40. hooterdawg says: Apr 19, 2012 4:09 PM

    Polian was not a very good GM his last few years. In fact, he had handed the GM job to his son – the Peter Principle nepotism that unraveled the Colts over the past few years.

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