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Bishop Sankey goes to the Tennessee Titans at No. 54


Almost exactly an hour after Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson took to Twitter on Friday night wondering whether there were any running backs in this draft, the Tennessee Titans made Washington's Bishop Sankey the first running back taken, with the 54th overall pick.

It was the longest wait for the first running back to come off the board in NFL history.

This is the second year in a row no running back was drafted in the first round. Last year, Giovani Bernard was the first back selected with the 37th overall pick; that had been the previous record.

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Sankey was his No. 1 back "since I put tape on." Mayock touted Sankey as the best three-down back in this draft and praised Sankey's quickness, his ability to make tacklers miss and his receiving acumen.

Analyst Charles Davis also liked the pick.

"He runs well inside and can get to the edges a little bit," he said.

If you followed the pre-draft run-up this year, you saw the phrases "running back" and "devalued" frequently in the same sentence. And it's not just as simple as saying, "This is a passing league, and running backs don't matter anymore."

If running backs don't matter, why did Seattle win the Super Bowl? The Seahawks win with a fierce defense, a strong running game and a competent passing attack. That's the same way the San Francisco 49ers win.

A big reason for the devaluation is the short shelf life for running backs -- the old "tread on the tire" argument. The more a running back carries the ball, the more he gets hit. While numerous college coaches like to ride their horses/running back, that takes tread off the tires. There now is a school of thought in the NFL that you don't necessarily want to pay big bucks to a guy who is going to receive punishment.

In addition, NFL teams have proved they can find non-first-round backs who can produce. Of the top 10 rushers in the league in 2013, just three were first-rounders (there also were three third-rounder) and each of the top four -- LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles and Alfred Morris -- was drafted in the second round or later.

What's interesting about the second round Friday night is that Sankey's selection created a run on running backs. He went 54th, LSU's Jeremy Hill 55th to Cincinnati and Ohio State's Carlos Hyde 57th to San Francisco.

Mayock said after Hyde went off the board that he thought Sankey, Hill and Hyde all had first-round talent.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.



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