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Running Backs Drafted from 2003 to 2008
David Dorey
July 11, 2008
Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers
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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 had to wait a season or two before getting into gear. What has been most troubling is the tendency of teams to draft early running backs when they already have a starter. A prudent move and one that has paid off well in the long term but one that has diminished what tailbacks can do in their rookie season. 2007 only had two running backs drafted in the first round as one of the weakest seasons but this year serves up five first round backs as an uncharacteristically high number. While each is heading into some level of tandem backfield, at least Peterson showed us last year that sharing carries can be overcome with superior play. Bottom line - best players play and sharing happens only because one back doesn't get it done.

Rounds Two through Four – These rounds have provided several players that became starting running backs for their team with notables of Marion Barber, Frank Gore and Maurice Jones-Drew. All at least started in tandem backfields and last year was a bust for these rounds. This year will be interesting since both Matt Forte and Kevin Smith appear to be locks to start for their teams and yet neither were first rounders. That is very uncharacteristic. Last year was a wasteland in these rounds and this year could end up a bonanza.

Round Five through Seven - Michal Turner gets his chance to break the long held curse. Other than him, all the players taken here have not 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. Wali Lundy got a shot in 2006 but did almost nothing with it and that was largely because there were no other decent runners in Houston. This is really little more than camp legs.

2008 - Other than the two first rounders last year, 2007 was a very bad year for rookie runners. 2008 has the potential to be one of the better ones. Oddly enough, the only two runners that seem destined for true full-time duty were not taken in the first round (Forte and Smith). The five first rounders should all see playing time this year but none are expected to take a full-time, primary role like Lynch had last year and like Forte and Smith seem to accept this season. Add in very interesting back-ups like Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles plus the latest Denver running back in Ryan Torrain and this class as the potential to be one of the most productive in many years... potentially anyway...

Rnd 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
1 Steven Jackson Ronnie Brown Reggie Bush Adrian Peterson Darren McFadden
Chris Perry Cedric Benson

Laurence Maroney

Marshawn Lynch Jonathan Stewart
Kevin Jones Carnell Williams DeAngelo Williams   Felix Jones
    Joseph Addai   Rashard Mendenhall
        Chris Johnson
2 Tatum Bell JJ Arrington LenDale White Kenny Irons Matt Forte
Julius Jones Eric Shelton Maurice Drew Chris Henry Ray Rice
Greg Jones     Brandon Jackson  
3   Frank Gore Brian Calhoun Lorenzo Booker Kevin Smith
  Vern. Morency Jerious Norwood Tony Hunt Jamaal Charles
  Ryan Moats   Wolfe Garrett Steve Slaton
  Maurice Clarett      
4 Mewelde Moore Marion Barber Le. Washington Michael Bush Tashard Choice
Cedric Cobbs Brandon Jacobs P.J. Daniels Antonio Pittman  
  Ciatrick Fason   Dwayne Wright  
  Alvin Pearman      
  Darren Sproles      
         
5 Michael Turner Damien Nash Jerome Harrison Kolby Smith Ryan Torrain
    David Kirtman   Tim Hightower
        Marcus Thomas
6   Cedric Houston Wali Lundy Thomas Clayton Thomas Brown
  Deandra Cobb Lawren. Vickers Justise Hairston Jalen Parmele
    J.D. Runnels   Xavier Omon
        Mike Hart
        Lex Hilliard
7 A. Echemandu Lionel Gates Cedric Humes DeShawn Wynn Chauncey Washington
Jonathan Smith Anthony Davis Quinton Ganther Jason Snelling Justin Forsett
Quincy Wilson Noah Herron   Kenneth Darby Cory Boyd
Derrick Ward     Ahmad Bradshaw Patrick Allen
Bruce Perry        
Brandon Miree        

Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers

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