Running backs likely to be shut out of this year’s first round

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Don’t expect to see a running back selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.

The top running back prospects this year — including Breece Hall, Isaiah Spiller and Kenneth Walker — appear destined to go no higher than the second round, as teams just aren’t as willing to invest major draft resources in the running back position as they used to be.

Last year two running backs went in the first round, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne, although both went late in the round. The last running back off the board in the Top 20 of a draft was Saquon Barkley in 2018, and his career has followed the trajectory of so many talented running backs: Some highlight reel plays, but too many injuries and stretches of ineffectiveness.

In the last decade only two running backs drafted in the Top 10 have played well enough to earn second contracts — Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey — and both of those contracts are now drags on their teams’ salary caps.

NFL teams are starting to realize that the first round isn’t the time to draft a running back.

27 responses to “Running backs likely to be shut out of this year’s first round

  1. This was evident a long time ago, that drafting a RB on the first day is a ridiculous waste of draft capital.

    It’s the one position on the field you can regularly get the same level of production from a 6th rounder, or later, as you can from a first round pick.

  2. Some teams don’t even have the first round draft capital this year, and others with multiple selections have higher draft needs. The point is very true and would appear that there a commonality of thinking of how to build or keep a winning franchise. However, the follow up point will be “who blinks first” in the second round.

  3. When a RB is a first round pick they always demand a huge second contract. Then they get it and immediately disappear off the field. Like the one on my team, Zeke. He’s nothing but a money pit to the team at this point. Millions of dollars down the drain and he’s not even the best RB on the team now. It’s like they all finally get the big bucks and then decide they’ve had enough of playing.

  4. Yeah RBs aren’t going to win you a SB w/ today’s passing game. Tho if not for an unbelievable yr from Jamarr Chase, Najee Harris possibly wins Offensive ROY. Seems like so many talented WRs are coming out every yr – 2nd & 3rd rounders w/ 1st round talent.

  5. Unlike QBs, RBs seldom get overdrafted. 0 QBs worth a 1st round pick this year and yet these geniuses may take up to 4. lol

  6. The NFLPA needs to step up here and demand a different RB rookie salary payscale. These guys get beat to #$%@ and rarely make it to second contracts. The league needs good talent at RB even if its not to the same extent it commanded years ago

  7. But Dallas never figured out how dumb it is to pay a RB 18 million dollars.

  8. The running game was so fun to watch back in the day when football was a complete sport. I’m very thankful I watched Barry Sanders, Jerome Bettie, Walter Peyton and soooo many other great men who made the running back position GREAT!

  9. Simply law of supply and demand. Most teams concentrate on the pass, thus receivers are paid premium bucks and are drafted high. Good running backs coming out of college are a dime a dozen so no need to spend big dollars. They also have a higher tendency to get hurt so a noticeable portion of their contracts are earned while they’re on the sidelines.

  10. The Colts’ pick of Jonathon Taylor looks better as time goes on. Proves that teams should stick with the rb’s from running back U. On Wisconsin.

  11. Drafting a center in the 1st rd is also a waste most are 5th picks on down and do a great job .

  12. beedubyatoo says:
    April 15, 2022 at 10:04 am

    The Colts’ pick of Jonathon Taylor looks better as time goes on. Proves that teams should stick with the rb’s from running back U. On Wisconsin.

    The Colts have a focus on running the ball. If Taylor were on the Falcons, we would have no idea who he is.

  13. The only RB I could see going in the 1st round would be Breece Hall and then it would only be at the end of round 1 like 28th to 32nd.

  14. This is good for the RB’s -they aren’t tied to the 5th year option -they can get to their 2nd contract quicker. Or at least more likely to get a 2nd contract. Pretty quickly teams that overpaid for this last round of WR’s will also realize they are becoming a dime a dozen. 5-6 touches a game? Better to spend that elsewhere and pick up one each year from the draft where you can get solid production deep into the draft.

  15. No problem with drafting a graded out RB in the 1st round. The issue is stupid GM/Owners who grossly over pay for a second contract then watch them fall of the cliff the next year. Nothing wrong with getting 4 or 5 good years out of them, but they should never be signed to a high dollar second contract almost all are fails.

  16. Why spend a first round pick for a player that you will dump in 3-4 years regardless of production?

  17. Growing up playing sports, outside of the QB, the RB’s got all the game action and were the most exciting to watch (when they were good) and it translated to the game you watched on TV.

    Sure, the WR’s were fun, and it was the position I played, but in the Barry Sanders/Emmitt Smith era – you wanted to be a tail back.

    Youth sports still leans on the RB for sure, but the NFl has rightly moved on. Exciting or not, at that high of usage they simply break down too quickly.

    Any RB taken in the first is not a justified pick unless he’s dual position (Cordarelle is a great example) and elite.

  18. If you ban build a decent OLine, teams can do RB by committee with guys picked up in the middle rounds.

    They’re cheaper and get the job done.

    Also, with so many “good enough” RBs coming out ever year, it’s almost not worth signing a RB beyond their rookie contract unless they’re some kind of AMAZING RB… but those guys are very rare now days.

    I thought Zeke could be a guy like that… thus far, nah.

    Put money into OLine, not RB.

  19. The NFL has gone to being a video game, but when it counts in the cold, playoffs, and when you need to take time off the clock. They always need quality running backs.

  20. beedubyatoo says:
    April 15, 2022 at 10:04 am
    The Colts’ pick of Jonathon Taylor looks better as time goes on. Proves that teams should stick with the rb’s from running back U. On Wisconsin.
    I think the lesson is you need a really good running game if your QB is Carson Wentz.

  21. With nearly 15,000 rushing yards and 126 TDs, Adrian Peterson was a pretty good first round pick (7th overall) but that was back in 2007. The game has changed in the past 15 years.

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