No running backs were selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and based on the evaluation Washington junior Bishop Sankey received, the same seems likely to happen in 2014.
"It's pretty much what I expected," Sankey said. "I'm going to talk to coach (Chris) Petersen and to my family after the bowl game and make a decision."
Sankey (5-foot-10, 203 pounds) rushed for a school-record 1,775 yards and 18 touchdowns during the regular season and can add to those totals in the Fight Hunger Bowl against BYU on Dec. 27. One of the most well-rounded backs in college football, Sankey added 25 receptions for 298 yards and one touchdown and is solid in pass protection.
In terms of a complete skill set, Sankey should be right there alongside West Virginia senior Charles Sims as the top prototypical three-down back NFL teams are always seeking. That Sankey only received a late Day 2 grade reflects the diminishing role of the ground game in a passing-oriented league.
There are 19 wide receivers that have already topped 1,000 receiving yards in the NFL this season, with another seven over 900 yards, compared with 11 1,000-yard rushers. Though Reggie Bush, Zac Stacy and Chris Johnson are still in position to crack that threshold, it would still be the fewest 1,000-yard rushers in an NFL season since 1999.
Among other standout draft prospects, Andre Williams of Boston College is a fine volume runner but has not caught a pass this season, and Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona will have to overcome the skepticism associated with backs coming out of head coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, despite showing the athleticism and toughness to quiet those criticisms.
Still, it seems unlikely that Sankey, Carey or any running back will come off the board among the first 32 picks, continuing a noteworthy trend.