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Running Backs Drafted from 1999 - 2005
David Dorey
July 11, 2005
Rnd 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
1 Edgerrin James Jamal Lewis L. Tomlinson William Green Willis McGahee St. Jackson Ronnie Brown
Ricky Williams Thomas Jones Deuce McAllister T.J. Duckett Larry Johnson Chris Perry Cedric Benson
  Ron Dayne Michael Bennett     Kevin Jones Carnell Williams
  Sha. Alexander          
  Trung Canidate          
2 James Johnson Travis Prentice Anthony Thomas Des. Foster   Tatum Bell J.J. Arrington
Kevin Faulk J.R. Redmond Lamont Jordan Clinton Portis   Julius Jones Eric Shelton
Joe Montgomery Reu. Droughns Travis Henry Maurice Morris   Greg Jones  
Mike Cloud Doug Chapman   Ladell Betts      
3 Amos Zereoue   James Jackson Lamar Gordon Musa Smith   Frank Gore
    Kevan Barlow B. Westbrook B.J. Askew   Vern. Morency
    Travis Minor   Chris Brown   Ryan Moats
        Justin Fargas   Maurice Clarett
4 Sedrick Irvin Curtis Keaton Rudi Johnson Jonathan Wells Artose Pinner Mewel. Moore Marion Barber III
Sean Bennett   C. Buckhalter Trav. Stephens Domanick Davis Cedric Cobbs Brandon Jacobs
Olandis Gary       Onterrio Smith   Ciatrick Fason
        Quentin Griffin   Alvin Pearman
        Lee Suggs   Darren Sproles
        LaB.Toefield    
5 Cecil Collins Paul Smith Derrick Blaylock Verron Haynes   Michael Turner Damien Nash
Jerry Azumah Michael Wiley Chris Barnes        
Charlie Rogers Dante Hall          
Terry Jackson Sammy Morris          
De'Mond Parker Chad Morton          
6   Frank Murphy Dee Brown Josh Scobey Brock Forsey   Cedric Houston
  Tho. Hamner Dan Alexander Larry Ned     Deandra Cobb
  Mike Anderson   Adr. Peterson      
      Brian Allen      
      Chester Taylor      
7 Madre Hill Mike Green Derek Combs Luke Staley M. Mackenzie A. Echemandu Lionel Gates
Autry Denson Patrick Pass   A. Womack Andrew Pinnock Jon. Smith Anthony Davis
James Finn Shyrone Stith   Leonard Henry Ahm. Galloway Quincy Wilson Noah Herron
  Rondell Mealey       Derrick Ward  
          Bruce Perry  
Starter         Brandon Miree  

First Round - The first round historically had always been rich in providing stud running backs for the NFL up until 2002 when a three year drought of sorts began. No running back was selected in the first 16 picks in those three seasons and the results show their fall in the first round was warranted. Both William Green and T.J. Duckett have failed to become even a primary rusher while Willis McGahee and Larry Johnson may only now be getting their chance to become a starter for week one of a season. Last year saw Steven Jackson with a decent showing as he shared with Marshall Faulk while Kevin Jones did not catch fire until the second half of the season thanks to injury. Chris Perry was a complete non-factor thanks to injury and with the re-signing of Rudi Johnson will likely be a non-factor once again this year. The NFL draft had a great legacy of first round backs until the last three years.

Rounds Two through Four - Of the 49 backs taken from these rounds since 1999, there are eight who will start this season. James Jackson, Kevin Faulk, Amos Zereoue, Travis Minor, Olandis Gary, Rueben Droughns, Anthony Thomas, Travis Henry and Ladell Betts have started in the past. This area of the draft has produced almost as many starters as the first round has. These rounds also have produced many runners who may have played for a season or two before giving way to a better, invariably younger rusher. Last season produced Tatum Bell and Julius Jones who both will be starters this season with high expectations. These rounds are productive for producing backs, but only Portis, Westbrook, Rudi Johnson, Chris Brown and Lee Suggs have stuck as primary rushers. The pickings are slim but do exist. More often than not, these players get a shot for at least part of a season and often fade away.

Round Five through Seven - For all the players taken (42), none of them have become a starter at any point in their careers if in fact they are even still in the NFL. Final round gems sound great in theory but non-existent in reality.  This group has produced little more than some kick returners. Derrick Blaylock had a few nice games behind the monster line in Kansas City, but even he was sent packing this offseason. It just doesn’t happen anymore, regardless of the Terrell Davis story.

2005 – The draft this season seems much more like those in 1999-2001 when first rounders were taken early and were guaranteed starters for week one. Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson and Carnell Williams are most similar to 1999 when Edgerrin James and Ricky Williams entered the league with big expectations and opportunity. This season is already an aberration in that Arrington was taken in the second round and should be a lock for heavy use. Forget the slim pickings of the last three seasons, take a gander at the names from 1999-2001 to see what this season should produce.