Commentary

Never draft a running back early

Ball carriers may put up big numbers, but history shows they don't win championships

Originally Published: February 24, 2012
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders
Trent RichardsonTyler Kaufman/Icon SMIIs Alabama's Trent Richardson really worth a top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft?

In three seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Trent Richardson ran for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. At 224 pounds and with a reported 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash -- he won't run at the combine due to a recent knee surgery -- he's bound to tempt most of the teams in the top half of the NFL draft's first round. But if they think he'll bring them the kind of success he brought to Alabama, they're in for a rude awakening.

In today's NFL, running backs just aren't important enough to warrant an early first-round selection.

Consider this: Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings leads all players over the past five seasons with 6,752 rushing yards, followed by Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner. These men have dominated the NFL's rushing statistics since 2007, but in that five-year span, they've won a total of two playoff games as starting running backs. (Turner won two more as LaDainian Tomlinson's backup with the 2007 Chargers.) As great as Peterson and his peers have been, they have failed to carry teams far into the playoffs.