We all tend to get excited by the potential of running backs selected in the second round, and I’m as guilty as the next guy. I’m of the school of thought that Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook will be very good. But when you look closer at the track record of those chosen in the second round, it’s pretty darn awful.
In this century, there have been 40 running backs picked in the second. Only five of those backs hit it really big, putting up top-10 numbers in their first year. Those guys are in bold on the chart, and with three of them (Clinton Portis, Maurice Jones-Drew and Jeremy Hill) it took awhile for them to get going.
Four others at least put up top-20 numbers, which is something. But that’s not a great overall success rate – 9 of 40.
None of the other 31 backs ranked higher than 28th among running backs in their first year (using standard fantasy coring). And 65 percent of these 40 backs didn’t rank higher than 40th.
Not all of these backs were coveted, of course. I will leave it to you to skim down the list and try to remember if you would have been excited to select each player in the third, fourth or fifth round of your draft back in the day. I remember there being some buzz around the likes of Montee Ball, Bishop Sankey, Tatum Bell, Toby Gerhart, Ryan Williams and LenDale White. Carlos Hyde and Ameer Abdullah both enhanced their value as rookies by busting a couple of notable runs in the preseason.
Some of these running backs ended up being very good, it just happened later. LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, LaMont Jordan.
But mostly misses, and consider that a warning if you’re thinking the key to your draft will be selecting Mixon and Cook. Maybe these guys are good (I believe I’ll have both of them in my top 20), but there is risk involved.
For me, a selling point on both Cook and Mixon is that I consider them to be a lot better than most of these second-round picks. They’re more talented. Under different circumstances, I think Cook and Mixon could have been chosen in the first round.
|PRODUCTION OF SECOND-ROUND RUNNING BACKS|
|2001||• Anthony Thomas, Chi.||178||1,183||1,361||7||180.1||13|
|2001||Travis Henry, Buff.||179||729||908||4||114.8||28|
|2001||LaMont Jordan, NYJ||44||292||336||2||45.6||62|
|2002||Clinton Portis, Den.||364||1,508||1,872||17||289.2||4|
|2002||Ladell Betts, Wash.||154||307||461||1||52.1||55|
|2002||Maurice Morris, Sea.||25||153||178||1||23.8||86|
|2002||DeShaun Foster, Car.||0||0||0||0||.0||--|
|2004||Julius Jones, Dall.||109||819||928||7||134.8||29|
|2004||Tatum Bell, Den.||80||396||476||3||65.6||48|
|2004||Greg Jones, Jac.||13||162||175||3||35.5||77|
|2005||J.J. Arrington, Ariz.||139||370||509||2||62.9||55|
|2005||Eric Shelton, Car.||0||0||0||0||.0||--|
|2006||Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac.||436||941||1,377||16||233.7||8|
|2006||LenDale White, Tenn.||60||244||304||0||30.4||72|
|2007||Brandon Jackson, G.B.||130||267||397||1||45.7||69|
|2007||Chris Henry, Tenn.||53||119||172||2||29.2||81|
|2007||Kenny Irons, Cin.||0||0||0||0||.0||--|
|2008||Matt Forte, Chi.||477||1,238||1,715||12||243.5||4|
|2008||Ray Rice, Balt.||273||454||727||0||72.7||55|
|2009||LeSean McCoy, Phil.||308||637||945||4||120.5||36|
|2010||Toby Gerhart, Minn.||167||322||489||1||54.9||60|
|2010||Montario Hardesty, Clev.||0||0||0||0||.0||--|
|2011||Ben Tate, Hou.||98||942||1,040||4||128.0||28|
|2011||Daniel Thomas, Mia.||72||581||653||1||71.3||50|
|2012||• Mikel Leshoure, Det.||214||798||1,012||9||155.2||20|
|2012||Shane Vereen, N.E.||149||251||400||4||64.0||50|
|2012||Ryan Williams, Ariz.||44||164||208||0||20.8||97|
|2012||LaMichael James, S.F.||29||125||154||0||15.4||104|
|2012||Isaiah Pead, St.L.||16||54||70||0||7.0||130|
|2013||Eddie Lacy, G.B.||257||1,178||1,435||11||209.5||7|
|2013||• LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||399||860||1,259||8||173.9||15|
|2013||• Giovani Bernard, Cin.||514||695||1,209||8||168.9||17|
|2013||Montee Ball, Den.||145||559||704||4||94.4||42|
|2014||Jeremy Hill, Cin.||215||1,124||1,339||9||187.9||10|
|2014||Bishop Sankey, Tenn.||133||569||702||2||82.2||43|
|2014||Carlos Hyde, S.F.||68||333||401||4||64.1||54|
|2014||Christine Michael, Sea.||12||175||187||0||18.7||99|
|2015||T.J. Yeldon, Jac.||279||740||1,019||3||119.9||28|
|2015||Ameer Abdullah, Det.||183||597||780||3||96.0||42|
|2016||Derrick Henry, Tenn.||137||490||627||5||92.7||40|