Around the NFL  

 

Undrafted stars show continued devaluation of RBs

Print

Last offseason, we highlighted the trend of established free-agent running backs getting paid like kickers and punters.

The last two weeks have provided further evidence of the foolishness of dumping valuable resources into the position.

Just as the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers were recognizing free-agent acquisitions Ben Tate and LeGarrette Blount as sunk costs, the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos resurrected their ground attacks via undrafted tailbacks.

Signed off the street last January, Jonas Gray made history versus the Colts, rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns. A week later, undrafted Blount led the Patriots with 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns just days after signing off the street himself.

Meanwhile, undrafted C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson combined for 228 yards from scrimmage in the Broncos' 39-36 win over the Miami Dolphins. Former sixth-round pick Latavius Murray became the only back in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards and a pair of scores on fewer than six carries in the Oakland Raiders' upset victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The trend isn't limited to the last two weeks, with the Pats and Broncos employing specific game plans to establish the run.

Undrafted Cleveland Browns rookie Isaiah Crowell leads all first-year players with seven rushing touchdowns. Arian Foster, originally undrafted out of Tennessee, is fifth in rushing yards despite missing three games. Former seventh-round pick Justin Forsett, an after-thought free-agent signing in April, leads the NFL in yards per carry (5.8).

Against that backdrop, the unmitigated failure of the Colts' Trent Richardson trade seems particularly egregious. Indianapolis surrendered a first-round pick only to watch Richardson be outplayed by Donald Brown, Ahmad Bradshaw and now former sixth-round pick Boom Herron.

Even with a trio of running backs on the fringe of the MVP discussion, the NFL's devaluation of the position isn't going away.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews the Week 13 games and reacts to the news of RGIII's benching in D.C. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

Print