Many believed that the 2017 draft had an abundance of running backs. The class did something that hasn’t been done in 38 years. More specifically, three of them did.
Via the NFL, a trio of rookie running backs generated 100 or more rushing yards in Week One for the first time since 1979.
Chiefs third-rounder Kareem Hunt hauled butt for 148 yards, Vikings second-rounder Dalvin Cook generated 127, and Jaguars first-round selection Leonard Fournette ended up with exactly 100 as each launched their careers.
In Week One of the 1979 season, Ottis Anderson came within seven yards of 200 for the Cardinals, William Andrews ran for 167 with the Falcons, and Jerry Eckwood racked up 121.
The eighth overall pick in 1979, Anderson would go on to rush for more than 10,000 yards, winning along the way the comeback player of the year in 1989 and the Super Bowl XXV MVP award. Andrews, a third-rounder in ’79, would spend six years with Atlanta and rush for 5,986 yards. Eckwood, also a third-rounder, rushed finished his rookie season with 690 yards and rushed for 1,845 over a three-year career.
While it remains to be seen which of this new trio will become Anderson, which one will be Andrews, and which will be Eckwood, the instant impact of Hunt, Cook, and Fournette underscores the reality that plenty of young running backs can move the chains if given blocking — and if they can be trusted to hold onto the football and pick up blitzers on passing plays. Given that the Vikings were due to pay Adrian Peterson $18 million for 2017 and will instead pay Cook $6.3 million over the next four years proves that it always makes sense to go younger and cheaper when it comes to the tailback position.