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.