Why do NFL teams continue to draft RBs with their top pick?

NFL teams continue to draft running backs like they’re playing fantasy football. Why?

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Dear NFL Teams,

I am begging you.  Please, stop drafting running backs with your top-five pick.  It’s not that hard!  Drafting a running back with a top-five pick has somehow become a trendy move (thanks Dallas).  I get it; it’s sexy, safe, and it makes your fans happy.

In 2016, the Cowboys started the three-year run by selecting Zeke Elliot over Jalen Ramsey.  I shit you not this is a real explanation from the Cowboys after they drafted Ezekiel Elliot:

What????  Who the hell uses that logic? Is that Jerry Jones?  Everyone knows the Cowboys should have drafted Jalen Ramsey.  They passed on one of the best, if not the best, cornerback in the league.  A guy who can go out there and shut down the other team’s best receiver.  A guy who can shut down half the field.  Remember the game in 2014 when Aaron Rodgers didn’t throw to Richard Sherman’s side of the field ONCE?  That’s what Jalen Ramsey has the ability to do.  You think the Cowboys regret that decision?  Yes. 10000%.  Cowboy fans won’t admit it.  But hey, at least they can give Zeke 25 touches a game….

Speaking of the Jags, in 2017 they decided to draft Leonard Fournette with the 4th overall pick.  You know what the Jags need?  A competent quarterback.  You know what competent quarterbacks (yes, plural) were drafted after Fournette?  Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, two of the best young QBs in the league.   Do you think the Jags are any better or worse without Fournette?  Nope, they’re the same exact team (maybe worse, see below).  But do you think the Jaguars are a different team with Mahomes or Watson at QB?  Ab-so-fuckin-lute-ly.  The only position preventing them from being the best team in football is QB (sorry Bortles).

Still don’t think the Jags should have passed on Fournette? In the 13 games Fournette has played, the Jaguars went 8-6, rushed for 137 yards a game, and outscored their opponents 322-254.

Without Fournette?  The Jaguars are 4-0, rushing for an average of 158 yards a game, and outscoring their opponents 126-34!    

EXACTLY.

And this past spring, the New York Football Giants drafted a RB with the second overall pick.  The Giants decided to pass on a potential franchise QB to select RB Saquon Barley.  Yes, it’s too early to call Darnold a franchise QB.  Yes, Saquon is going to be a monster running back.  But the Giants NEED A QB DESPERATELY!  Eli Manning is 37 years old and looks like he should have retired three years ago.

But don’t worry, the Giants have a plan at quarterback.  The QBs listed behind Eli on the Giants depth chart?  Alex Tanney, Kyle Lauletta, and Jason Johnson II (I made the last one up, but you see how screwed the Giants are).

This is why I don’t understand the Giants plan at all.  Did they want to go all in this year with Eli?  You know what that’s like?  That’s like going all in at the poker table with a King high when your opponent has a Royal Flush.  Yea, they have Odell and Saquon locked up, but what’s their plan at QB, aka the most important position in football? Is it to draft a QB next year?  Is it to trade for Jameis Winston?  Is it to play Eli for another two years (that would sort of be amazing)?

The Giants have an emotional/uber-talented wide receiver, a stud running back, and a tortured fan base but with no QB or O-line, what’s the point?  The Giants have the flashy convertibles, but they don’t have the keys nor a driver for their shiny toys.  I have no idea what the Giants plan on doing, but they better figure something out quick.  Hopefully they’re not playing QB roulette.

Still think teams should draft a running back with their top-five pick?  Here’s a list of the past 10 starting running backs for the winning Super Bowl teams:

  • 2008: Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – 4th round
  • 2009: Willie Parker (PIT) – Undrafted
  • 2010: Reggie Bush (NO) – 1st round – 2nd overall
  • 2011: James Starks (GB) – 6th round
  • 2012: Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – 7th round
  • 2013: Ray Rice (BAL) – 2nd round
  • 2014: Marshawn Lynch (SEA): 1st round
  • 2015: Shave Vereen (NE) – 2nd round
  • 2016: CJ Anderson (DEN) – Undrafted
  • 2017: LaGarette Blount (NE) – Undrafted
  • 2018: LaGarette Blount (PHI) – Undrafted

That’s two guys drafted in the first round (neither of whom led their team in rushing in the Super Bowl) and two guys drafted in the second round.  The rest?  Drafted in the 6th, 7th, or UNDRAFTED.  Everyone wants an elite running back, but a running back doesn’t turn your franchise around.

Cowboy fans, please admit that you guys fucked up. Jags fans, imagine Mahomes as your starting QB. Giants fans, imagine Jason Johnson II as your starting QB.

Like Al Pacino once said, “First you get the money, then you get the power, and then you get the women.”  In this case the running back position is not the money…. unless it’s Todd Gurley.

So please Buffalo, do not draft a running back with the first overall pick next year.

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