The Value of Running Backs Hits Historic Lows
No one expected a running back to be selected in the 1st round but it was a real surprise that the first running back wasn’t selected until the 54th pick— which is an NFL record. There were talented backs like Carlos Hyde, Bishop Sankey and Jeremy Hill yet nearly every team passes on them once if not twice.
And those same teams were quick to pull the trigger and select wide receivers. An astonishing 12 receivers were selected in the first two rounds alone—another record—confirming that NFL teams value pass catchers way more than running backs. The reason is obvious the NFL has become a passing league where only two teams ran the ball over 50%, San Francisco and Seattle.
The final piece of evidence that proves the NFL running back is seen as a replaceable position was the frigid market for free agent NFL running backs. This offseason the top running back Chris Johnson received little interest before the Jets gave with 2 year 8 million dollar deal—a deal that was criticized as a vast overvaluation. Simply put there wasn’t a real market for the top free agent backs because teams were confident they could get a quality back for cheap.
The NFL running back decline started when teams realized the effectiveness and value of a running back by committee approach. That happened about a decade ago and the running back’s value has continued to plummet every since. This year’s draft was simple the cherry on top.