FanPost

Why drafting Trent Richardson (or any RB) in round 1 is bad drafting

I more or less "borrowed" this from a blog post on cbssports. It's my view, but is composed much better i could do in the time i allow myself to post. The point being with the talk of the 2012 draft popping up, and Trent often being mentioned as a "great pick" if he falls to us, or even if we trade up to get him, i just wanted to post some intelligible comments for why taking Trent in round 1 may not be the best decision for the success of the team.

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The difference between them and the NFL's 32nd-best back is negligible when compared to the differences between, say, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and whoever your candidate is for the league's worst starting quarterback. The same holds for wide receivers, left tackles, cornerbacks, safeties -- basically every position but running back.

So why is that?

For starters, the shelf life for a top-flight running back is remarkably short. A study by Doug Drinin of Pro-Football-Reference.com found that RBs usually decline by age 28, WRs by age 30 and QBs by age 32.

In a story published in January 2005 in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Carl Prine explained that the sheer brutality of the position coupled with overuse has also played a role.

"The average career of an NFL back is 2.6 years and falling, according to the National Football League Players' Association. Players, coaches and historians interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review blamed the mayfly careers of rushers on the … high number of carries they get in an age of free agency," Prine wrote. "Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, teams rarely asked their backs to touch the ball more than 230 times in a season.

"Historically, every time a player gets more than that many touches in a season, his production declines the following year by 50 fewer carries and 1.2 fewer games. Nearly three out of every five of these backs are out of the league within four years."

Then there's the research by FootballOutsiders.com which suggests that rushing success is more dependent on the offensive line, but pass protection is more dependent on the quarterback. Put differently: teams can find productive running backs -- no matter when they were drafted (or if they were drafted at all) or how much they're making -- if a good offensive line is already in place. A great quarterback, however, can mask an o-line's shortcomings.

A great running back, in general, is wasted on a mediocre offensive line.

Even back when Chris Johnson exploed in 2009 for 2,006 rushing yards, 14 TDs, 503 receiving yards...the Titans only won eight games and missed the playoffs.


Here's what FootballOutsiders.com president and ESPN.com columnist Aaron Schatz told CBSSports.com about Chris Johnson's demands for a substantial pay bump. "When was the last time a team with a big-name, big-money back went to the Super Bowl, or even had the best regular-season record in the league? I suppose the 2009 Vikings came close. Otherwise, do you have to go back to the 2005 Seahawks? The best offenses in the modern NFL simply aren't built around a single running back."


This reminds us of something Schatz wrote as part of his "Football Outsiders Basics" series: "By and large, a team built on depth is better than a team built on stars and scrubs. … Every team will suffer injuries; the only question is how many. The game is too fast and the players too strong to build a team based around the idea that 'if we can avoid all injuries this year, we'll win.'"

The previous eight Super Bowl winners didn't have a high-priced, top-5 running back on the roster. What they did have, however, was a franchise quarterback. Teams can survive without one but not the other."

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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