I don’t have a lot to offer here other than the stats based comparisons. The only thing I would note is that while I think a lot of people might say “Reuben Randle is better than Michael Jenkins!!!”, Jenkins was picked at the end of the first round coming out of college, so he was regarded as a decent prospect at the time.
Javon Walker had a very good early career and was really just derailed by the ACL injury.
One other note. This is based on reports of Reuben’s 40 coming out of his pro day.
|Share of College Team TDs
|Share of College Team Yds
From here on out I’ll be throwing up some more player comparisons. The comparisons are 100% stat/measurables based and 0% scouting based, so feel free to take that into consideration when reading. One other thing to note is that running backs are going to be heavily reliant on scheme. We’ll look at them again after the draft. Also keep in mind that similarity is not equal to destiny.
Today’s comparisons are for Washington running back Chris Polk.
|Strength of Schedule
I’m firmly on record as arguing against selecting Trent Richardson where he is likely to be selected in this year’s draft. Not because I don’t think he’ll be a stud. He probably will be (and I would take him in a heartbeat in fantasy football). My argument is related to the value of running backs and really the value of the running game.
Here are the components to the argument against running backs in the first round:
- The best case scenario isn’t that good. Barry Sanders played for the Lions from 1989-98. The Lions record over that time was 78-82. Adrian Peterson has played for the Vikings since 2007. The Vikings record over that time is 39-41. LaDanian Tomlinson played for the Chargers between 2001 and 2009. They actually had a winning record during that stretch (unlike Sanders’ Lions and Peterson’s Vikings). However, their worst record (4-12) over that span came in the year that they averaged the best rushing yards/carry (the Chargers averaged 5.15 YPC in 2003). Their worst rushing yards/carry came in a year that they were 13-3 as a team (when they averaged 3.33 YPC).
- The running game is antiquated. Getting a running back now is like if you would have bought a horse and buggy after the Model T started rolling off the line. If passing yields more yards than running, you should really only run in order to keep the defense guessing.
- Running doesn’t cause winning. Look at the top five quarterbacks in terms of yards/attempt. Then look at the top five running backs in yards/attempt. Compare the records of the two groups. This is a very simple analysis to do, but it will make sense to most people.
- Draft picks are choices among scarce resources. If you take a running back, you’re opting not to take a piece that will help you either pass, or defend against the pass.
- Taking a running back in the first round locks that player in at a higher salary than you would have to spend on a mid or late round running back. Teams should spend as little as possible on running backs because, again, running doesn’t cause winning. Every dollar you save on the running game is another dollar that can go to the passing game.
- Not having a good running back doesn’t mean you can’t have a good running game. Running backs are just one piece of at least six positions required to run the football. Any time running backs fail we blame it on the offensive line. But offensive line picks also are part of the passing game, so if it’s a choice between a running back and a lineman, you should always take the lineman.
- Teams should draft linemen instead of running backs early and then they should just look for the fastest big running back they can find late.
This all begs the question: When can you select a running back? To me the answer to that question is about the same as “When can you get 22 inch rims for your car?” When you have no other problems.