Derrick Henry thinks Najee Harris, Travis Etienne should go in first round

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The wisdom of drafting running backs in the first round has been debated for several years and Titans running back Derrick Henry‘s play has been used as an argument against it more than once.

Henry was a 2016 second-round pick in Tennessee and he has set a new career high in rushing yards each season. That upward trajectory culminated in back-to-back rushing titles, including 2,027 yards in 2020, and Henry has run for 33 touchdowns as well.

None of the six backs after Henry on this year’s leaderboard were first-round picks either, but none of that has swung Henry to the opinion that you should wait to select a running back. He said that Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne should each come off the board in the first round this year.

“I know that they try to devalue us backs and say that running backs, you can get a running back in the second round,” Henry said, via the team’s website. “But Najee and Etienne deserve to go in the first round — they have earned it. You have seen it week in and week out, what they did this year, the type of players they are, it shows on film.”

We’ll have to wait until April to find out if teams feel the same way that Henry does or if the two backs will get to use not going in the first round as a chip on their shoulder.

6 responses to “Derrick Henry thinks Najee Harris, Travis Etienne should go in first round

  1. It’s not about earning it. That’s not how anything works. Picking a running back in the first round just isn’t a good investment unless you already have a strong team. Even then, it’s likely that you would be able to trade down and get the same value later.

  2. I suspect one or both will go in the 1st round. That’s some talented players that will be valued by several teams come April.

  3. And they will go first round. Sermon from Ohio State should also go first round but probably won’t. Whoever gets him will steal a starting RB, much like the Ravens getting Dobbins last year.

  4. “I know that they try to devalue us backs and say that running backs, you can get a running back in the second round,”

    Funny. Doesn’t this quote specifically prove himself wrong? You can get a great running back in the second round. “They” didn’t devalue anything. There are only 32 first round picks. And it’s simply harder to fill many other positions that also likely view themselves as having earned it.

  5. The umbrage NFL RBs express whenever they discuss RBs being “devalued” seems to come from the same place as the media’s indignation at the notion of fake news: they keep denying it, and yet over and over the reality of the thinking is confirmed. The facts couldn’t be more clear: the supply of quality RBs in the draft is better than that of pretty much any other position, AND the career “life span” of the position is shorter. Because a good or great RB will typically hold up shorter than a star elsewhere, and because RBs are easier to replace in cost-efficient fashion, it’s foolish to overinvest in the position, especially when top-drafted RBs can and will still sometimes disappoint. Take the RB when the grade stands out from the rest of the best prospects on the board, wherever that is…and RBs? Don’t complain about where that is.

  6. If one of those guys is gonna be a stud, yeah, they should go in the first round. But, I’m sick of seeing Harris’ name because he played with Tua. Hopefully Miami can trade down a little and still get Etienne.

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