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Are RBs Declining In Value??

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  • Are RBs Declining In Value??

    First, I do not believe that the RB position is going away anytime soon...just ask The Titans and their opponents what they think about that concept!!!

    But I am noticing that 2 straight drafts are leaning away from RBs. Being that I am not a college football guru, I can not speak to the effectiveness of the backs in totality.

    I do however believe that the game has changed for a number of teams, and partly because of the theory I have (you may not all agree, and that's perfectly fine) that the era of the more mobile, athletic, passing QBs has created some different ways to be successful, with RBs playing a big role, but not necessarily a lead role. Multiple back units are not that rare either. Still, as long as Derek Henry, Saquon Barkley and a number of other load carriers roam the plains, backs will definitely have lead roles.

    But just to reflect this more recent trending, lets look at the last 2 draft years, and project based on one expert's 3 round mock draft. One can argue about the 3 year mock's credibility, but in terms of first rounders in most mocks I've seen. the RB is not very prevalent.

    2018

    Top 5
    Saquon Barkley - Rd 1 - #2
    Rashad Penny - Rd 1 - #27
    Sony Michel - Rd 1 - #31
    Nick Chubb - Rd 2 - #35
    Ronald Jones II - Rd 2 - #38
    Total of 7 in first 2 rounds

    2019

    Top 5
    Josh Jacobs - Rd 1 - #24
    Miles Sanders - Rd 2 - #53
    Darrell Henderson - Rd 3 - #70
    David Montgomery - Rd 3 - #73
    Devin Singletary - Rd 3 - #74
    Total of 2 in first 2 rounds

    2020 (projected by Chad Reuter of NFL.com)

    Top 5
    D'Andre Swift - Rd 1 - #26
    JK Dobbins - Rd 2 - #40
    Jonathan Taylor - Rd 2 - #45
    Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Rd 2 - #47
    Cam Akers - Rd 3- #91
    Total of 4 in first 2 rounds

    More details could be evaluated, but all in all, only 1 first rounder in '19 and possibly '20. And let me just add that 2017 produced Fournette, McCaffrey, Cook, Kamara, Mixon, Hunt, Connor, Mack, Aaron Jones, Carson, and more.

    So gang, help me out. Are the recent batch of RBs not as talented, or has the NFL game changed enough that backs are a little less relevant, as individuals? Are we to expect more tandems, than 3 downers? Are mobile QBs allowing OC's more liberty to mix and match, given that QBs can run a little more as well?

    What's your take? Have fun with it!:thumb:

  • #2
    I think teams have realized that RB is such a dependent position that oftentimes it simply a waste of value to draft them that high. Barkley went that high because he can still make a monumental impact with subpar talent even though it hasn’t really translated to team success.

    Then when you factor in that offenses are calling for RBs to do more and more you start seeing guys who specialize their game a certain way because they aren’t necessarily a bell cow back and then add the injury aspect on top of that, teams are becoming more content with having puzzle pieces at RB rather than the complete puzzle. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket only for those eggs to break come playoff time. If one of those eggs break I.e you’re short yardage RB well now you still have your receiving back and probably a blocking back or a poor man’s version of your main back or maybe a combo guy of both who for some reason can’t seem to consistently put it together.

    LaDanian Tomlinson comes to mind for me. While he had backups that went on to have successful careers in Turner and Sproles, he was such a massive part of their offense that it really killed the team when he sat on the sideline bundled up in all those playoff games he missed.

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    • #3
      I think the type of RB has changed. The power backs like Henry have declined in value. RBs who are true receiving threats are still high value prospects and the RBs to have on the roster.
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Originally posted by beastlyskronk View Post
        I think teams have realized that RB is such a dependent position that oftentimes it simply a waste of value to draft them that high. Barkley went that high because he can still make a monumental impact with subpar talent even though it hasn’t really translated to team success.

        Then when you factor in that offenses are calling for RBs to do more and more you start seeing guys who specialize their game a certain way because they aren’t necessarily a bell cow back and then add the injury aspect on top of that, teams are becoming more content with having puzzle pieces at RB rather than the complete puzzle. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket only for those eggs to break come playoff time. If one of those eggs break I.e you’re short yardage RB well now you still have your receiving back and probably a blocking back or a poor man’s version of your main back or maybe a combo guy of both who for some reason can’t seem to consistently put it together.

        LaDanian Tomlinson comes to mind for me. While he had backups that went on to have successful careers in Turner and Sproles, he was such a massive part of their offense that it really killed the team when he sat on the sideline bundled up in all those playoff games he missed.
        Nice take!

        Yes, I agree that if another Barkley type comes around, they go very high. But I also see a change of some sort to diversify, and build on a game plan around various skills/situations. When it comes down to basics, I do want a back that can play all downs (with some power, some speed, decent hands and the ability to block), a sure handed power back capable of making that 4th and 1, or goal line crunch (and block), or kill the clock with consistency, and a back who can change speeds, with breakaway capability.

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        • #5
          I will tell you this, if JK Dobbins makes it to pick 46, needs or no needs, we’d be foolish to pass him up. He’s a legit franchise back and is very underappreciated. Argue all you want, he would put our offense over the top.

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          • #6
            As a whole, yes RBs are declining in value. There will always be elite backs (McCaffrey, Barkley, Elliott) that get drafted high, because they have a special talent. But you can get good backs at just about any point in the draft, in Denver the UDFA has been a better back than the 3rd round pick. In Seattle the first round pick RB can't get on the field, partly due to injuries, but mainly because he's been beat out by a 7th round pick.

            So I think the position as a whole will continue to drop because of that. Elite RBs will still go high, but guys who used to be late first round picks will be late second round picks. Guys who used to be mid round prospects will be late round picks and UDFAs.

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            • #7
              I think alot of it has to do with you can get quality backs later in the draft now days.

              I mean if you check the top runners the top 2 where drafted outside the first this year. Not to mention 6 of the top ten running backs where taken outside the first and if you look at tds the back who lead the league or at least tied was a 4th rounder. So I think people are just realizing you can find a good back with out potentially drafting them high. Like a guy like aj dillon should be there in the 4th or 5th and he would be an ideal back to pair with Lindsay
              sigpic
              oakland raders gm
              latavis murray trade bait

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              • #8
                Good points! I do agree that an elite back will still go early, but that you can easily find a decent back in rounds like 3 or 4....or even later. (see Undrafted!!)

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                • #9
                  Look at from an investment point of view too.

                  RB is such a tough position to stay healthy at and have sustained success at.

                  Good look at past drafts, 2011, 2012 etc. Its funny to see the first round WRs that are still in the league contributing at a high level, compared to some of the first round RBs that have been long forgot.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Diggs4 View Post
                    Look at from an investment point of view too.

                    RB is such a tough position to stay healthy at and have sustained success at.

                    Good look at past drafts, 2011, 2012 etc. Its funny to see the first round WRs that are still in the league contributing at a high level, compared to some of the first round RBs that have been long forgot.
                    That makes sense. RBs can get hurt or run out of mileage after college and a few tough NFL seasons. Some WRs run into heavy traffic, but many of them like to keep themselves in one on one country, with the sidelines nearby.

                    Therefore the RB assembly line is so reliable, because there are plenty of good young players, but they do not have to be panicked over. Plus RBs are usually quick to adapt to the big leagues, and are almost plug in ready.

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                    • #11
                      They have been for sure, and they will continue to. The idea of paying running backs is just quite frankly dumb, they don't last. Who was the last guy to hit free agency or sign a large extension, and then continue to produce at the same rate which earned them that contract for the duration of the extension ? I'll wait.

                      I don't believe in drafting running backs high, and I don't believe in large extensions for running backs. I seen Henry wants 15 million per year as the "floor". Anyone willing to pay that for a guy who runs as violently as he does is beyond stupid, I wouldn't pay him above 8 million dollars per year.

                      Offensive line is where you need to draft, develop, and keep your guys into their second contracts. They can make or break a great running game, and running backs are easy to find when the offensive line is good. I am not saying the running back has no value, but that top tier money and draft capital should be spent on the offensive line, they impact the running game more so than anything else.

                      I think you should always be looking to add a running back in the middle rounds, the lower rounds, and in free agency, because teams get the most out of their running backs when they are on their rookie contracts, and for maybe a year or two after. But by then they are on their way out and wasting cap for a few more years. So, get that production on the rookie deal, stretch it out as far as it goes, and let them leave a year too earlier, than a year too late.

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                      • #12
                        Again....good points. Part of my reason for posting was to assess something that is not easy to assess:

                        If you compared yearly classes, are RBs still as good as they typically are, and if so, is it because of the changes in the game and the strategy that they are being drafted a little lower down, and with not as much early round frequency? In other words, if you took one of the best RB draft years and had those players in this year's draft class, would they be drafted lower overall (assuming all other variables were similar, as in, team needs and player quality in other positions)? I think they would.

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                        • #13
                          I wonder if Jano is going to be re-evaluated with the arrival of Shurmur. Will he find value in having him on the roster or will his scheme lead to letting Jano go

                          I'm not all that attached to Jano. I like him fine -- but at the end of the day I just hope whatever they decide to do is RIGHT lol and I have no idea what right is here.

                          Also .........all the Tight Ends on our roster .........hasn't it been said that Shurmur doesn't need but really good TE. We have like what 5 of em?

                          Butt
                          Fumes
                          Heirman
                          Fant
                          and another guy can't remember
                          and maybe even another?
                          The beatings will continue until morale improves....

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dizzolve View Post
                            I wonder if Jano is going to be re-evaluated with the arrival of Shurmur. Will he find value in having him on the roster or will his scheme lead to letting Jano go

                            I'm not all that attached to Jano. I like him fine -- but at the end of the day I just hope whatever they decide to do is RIGHT lol and I have no idea what right is here.

                            Also .........all the Tight Ends on our roster .........hasn't it been said that Shurmur doesn't need but really good TE. We have like what 5 of em?

                            Butt
                            Fumes
                            Heirman
                            Fant
                            and another guy can't remember
                            and maybe even another?
                            Fort had an impressive camp before injury and Beck filled in admirably at FB for Jano. I don’t think Butt or Heuerman will make the team, just too many injuries. Jano may be tricky due to Beck but Beck probably isn’t comfortable taking a handoff the way Jano is.

                            I’m not sure how much Shurmur uses multiple TE looks. I didn’t really pay attention to the Giants and I know he had Rudolph in Minnesota and got career highs out of him receiving but he’s also a great blocker so specialized TEs weren’t a huge need for them. Fant can be a solid blocker but he isn’t there yet. I don’t think Fumagalli or Fort are good blockers so I think Beck and Jano might still have a role in power packages.

                            I’m really interested in what he will bring to the table as an OC. He got good production out of McKinnon and Murray and we have something similar currently with Lindsay and Freeman.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CanDB View Post
                              Again....good points. Part of my reason for posting was to assess something that is not easy to assess:

                              If you compared yearly classes, are RBs still as good as they typically are, and if so, is it because of the changes in the game and the strategy that they are being drafted a little lower down, and with not as much early round frequency? In other words, if you took one of the best RB draft years and had those players in this year's draft class, would they be drafted lower overall (assuming all other variables were similar, as in, team needs and player quality in other positions)? I think they would.
                              For the most part I would agree that they’d be drafted lower overall. Barkley, Elliot, and a healthy Gurley probably still go super high but they’re exceptions. However I do think RBs are getting better and better, yet at the same time they can be a nightmare for scouts due to how much they rely on everything around them on offense and the disproportionate view point of the offense helping them (minimal impact in scouting) to level of competition (much higher impact in scouting). That’s why Lindsay got overlooked, he has everything you want for in a RB but because he’s small, wasn’t really in a televised conference, and played lesser competition teams weren’t high on him.

                              Sometimes I hate that vision gets included into scouting reports. Too often it’s actually a term used to mitigate the impact the rest of the team had on the RB as well as the competition. For example usually (online) scouts will claim a RB has good vision because he saw a hole open to the backside and cut back and ran through it, but I think most RBs can see that because they’re just accustomed to looking for it all the way back to pee wee leagues. Good vision to me starts with locating the helmets of the front 7 and they’re alignment after they’ve initiated contact with your blockers and making the right decision consistently. Great vision to me is to be able to see where those guys are going to end up aligning on your blockers before contact is ever initiated (their angles of pursuit basically) and then you can manipulate them to open up a hole for yourself. Matt Forte was great at this. Scottie Phillips from Ole Miss does a terrific job of this but since his production wasn’t super high he will get overlooked in this process but a guy like Deondre Swift (and to be fair I haven’t watched much of him) will probably be the top RB taken.

                              There is just so much to look for and really to appreciate in a RB but at the same time you can also generally just plug in a 220-240 lb RB with 4.4-4.5 speed and you’ll get solid production as long as they run hard.

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