The common narrative that has surfaced in the NFL points to the descending value at the RB position, ultimately leading to the drop-off of running backs drafted in the 1st round. Last year only one was selected on Day 1, you’ve probably heard of him, Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott would go on to prove his worth at the 4th overall pick and has already established himself as one of the elite backs in the league. Prior to the pick, I was skeptical as I defended the narrative to not draft an RB so high. My thought process has started to change.
In 2015, only two RBs went in the first round (Gurley, Gordon), then in both 2013 and 2014, the first round would pass without a single running back selected. This 2017 RB class is something special – it has a strong possibility to generate 4 first round picks at the RB position. That would mark the first time that many would be taken in round 1 since all the way back in 2008 (McFadden, Stewart, Felix Jones, Mendenhall, Chris Johnson).
With premier names clogging this draft class such as Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon and even Alvin Kamara, we could see upwards of 5 running backs selected before Day 1 is done – that would be a remarkable feat in today’s NFL. Not only is it stacked at the top, the class has depth all the way down into the late rounds with an array of ball carriers who bring a variety of different traits and values.
Below we have compiled our consensus RB rankings between our Breaking Football draft team which includes the individual rank from each writer for each player. Let us know what you think in the comments below and follow the rest of our draft team on Twitter @MichaelJKist, @SteveDraft_ , @ZachHicks2.
*Note: We understand the scouting report links in the table below aren’t clickable. Simply type “[Player Name] scouting report breaking football” into google and it will be atop your search list. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Small School Sleeper: De’Angelo Henderson (Coastal Carolina)
There aren’t enough people talking about De’Angelo Henderson of Coastal Carolina University. Does he meet the RB size threshold? No. Will he be older than your typical NFL rookie? Yes. These are the only two major flaws you can find when talking about Henderson’s game. Henderson has shattered just about every rushing record Coastal Carolina has to offer. Henderson scored in 35 consecutive games and finished his career with 5,556 total yards and 64 touchdowns. Henderson possesses a small but thick frame that allows him to hide behind his offensive lineman. His compact frame also allows him to run with elite balance and power when darting through the line of scrimmage. Henderson also displays lower body flexion and lateral agility that allows him to make defenders miss on the second and third levels of the football field. Henderson is a three down back from day one and NFL teams shouldn’t allow this scrappy running back to get lost in the shuffle.
Biggest Riser: Alvin Kamara (Tennessee)
Kamara had very little hype coming into the season. He had a productive junior season (698 yards rushing, 291 yards receiving & 11 total TDs), but missed time with a sprained left knee. Coming into the season, the Volunteers started the wrong RB (Jalen Hurd), but as Kamara’s workload increased, it was clear that he had diverse skillset that would translate to the NFL. It’s often noted that “the league likes Kamara more than the public” and there’s a very good chance that he gets his name called as early as the middle of round 1.
Biggest Faller: Dalvin Cook (Florida State)
Although he still ranks at the top of our RB rankings, Dalvin Cook certainly isn’t the “slam dunk” prospect that many perceived him to be. While he always had some concerns such as an extended injury history, incidents off the field and ball security issues, we were able to overlook that based on his dynamic play on the field. However, after an underwhelming performance at the Combine where he was overshadowed by the likes of other top RB prospects including Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette, Cook has begun to slide a bit down draft boards – especially with all the concerns thrown together.
Risk Factor: Joe Mixon (Oklahoma)
Mixon is easily one of the most talented players in this draft class but his off field is very concerning for NFL teams. Ever since the Ray Rice incident, teams are very nervous and hesitant to draft talented players with domestic abuse allegations. Once the video of Mixon hitting his girlfriend surfaced, he became the most polarizing player in this draft. He has the talent to be a great NFL player, but the domestic violence case off the field make him a huge risk, especially in the first where contracts are guaranteed.