Safe Pick: You don’t need a 1st round RB to succeed in NFL

NFL Draft News
2020 NFL Draft RB class

Last year’s rushing leaders paint a picture on the state of the running back position in the NFL.

Excluding quarterback Lamar Jackson, eight of the top 10 rushing totals came from running backs drafted in the first or second rounds.

However, only three of those RBs played on playoff teams: Derrick Henry of Tennessee (second-round pick), Chris Carson of Seattle (seventh-round) and Dalvin Cook of Minnesota (second-round).

But the Christian McCaffrey-led Carolina Panthers failed to qualify for the postseason. The same goes for Dallas (Ezekiel Elliott), Jacksonville (Leonard Fournette) and Oakland (Josh Jacobs). Those four were drafted in the first round. Joe Mixon (second-round pick by Cincinnati) and Marlon Mack (fourth-round pick by Indianapolis) round out the top 10 RB rushing totals – those two played for teams that also missed the playoffs.

However, the RBs drafted in the first- and second-rounds have enjoyed a reasonable amount of success in their rookie years. Jacobs, for example, received 45 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, according to Football Outsiders, while rushing for 1,150 yards and 7 touchdowns as a rookie last year.

Jacobs was one of three rookie RBs whose rushing totals ranked among the top 20 for running backs. The other two: David Montgomery of Chicago (third round) and Myles Sanders of Philadelphia (second round).


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