As we get closer to the April 28 NFL draft, SI.com ran a column yesterday with the following title: “Running backs diminish in value, as 2011 draft’s first round will show.”
The premise of the piece is that this year’s draft may feature only one running back selected in the first round, something that hasn’t happened since 1963. That sounds ominous, but is it really that unusual?
Below is a look at the number of running backs selected in the first round during the Super Bowl era (1967-2010) as well as the number of running backs taken among the top 10 picks…
In the last 20 years, there have been seven drafts in which only two running backs were taken in the first round, and another eight drafts with only three. That is 15 of the last 20 drafts. This came after a stretch of 12 years with only one draft with fewer than four running backs taken in the first round.
And if we look at running backs taken among the top 10 picks. In the last nine drafts, four drafts did not have a running back taken that early.
If only one running back is drafted in the first round this year, it would be the first time that has occurred in nearly 50 years. But shunning running backs that early in the draft is a trend we have seen for the last 20 years, and only one picked wouldn’t be that unusual.
All data via Pro-Football-Reference.com