With the NFL Draft fast approaching, I decided to put together a piece on one of, if not the hardest , positions to draft. No, not quarterback, but running back. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you pick them, but production is certainly not correlated with draft pick. Let’s look at some examples before we dive into the current New York running backs.

In 1995, the Cincinnati Bengals made Ki-Jana Carter (Penn State) the first overall pick. He went on to injure his knee in his first preseason. That obviously wasn’t his fault, but he never became the player the Bengals thought he would, rushing for less than 1,200 career yards. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Detroit Lions snagged Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State) with the third pick in the 1989 draft. I don’t need to go any further into how his career panned out.

With the Giants, they drafted running back Brandon Jacobs (Southern Illinois) 110th overall in 2005. Last year, he rushed for 835 yards and 5 TDs, which is good considering how often the Giants like to use more than one back. Last season, backup running back Ahmad Bradshaw (Marshall) rushed for 778 yards and 7 TDs. Since his output was so similar to Jacobs, he must have been drafted around the same round, right? Wrong, he was drafted in the 7th round (250th overall).

Last year, the Jets’ running game was a thing of beauty. The now-departed Thomas Jones rushed for career-highs with 1,402 yards and 14 TDs. Jones, 31, was drafted 7th overall out of Virginia. Next season, the starter will be Shonn Greene, who dazzled in the playoffs. He set rookie-rushing records in the playoffs. So he was probably one of the first backs taken in the draft. Wrong again, he was the fifth running back selected and the first overall pick of the third round.

So what does all this mean? Obviously, there truly is no exact science on how to pick running backs. You could have the 5th pick and draft LaDainian Tomlinson, the superstar who recently signed with the Jets. On the other hand, you could have the 4th pick and wind up with Darren McFadden, an ultra-talented back who, to this date, has better combine numbers than career stats.

The one thing that I find in common with the Giants and Jets is the offensive line. Last season, on any other team, Thomas Jones might not have eclipsed 1,000 yards. However, their massive front paved the way for the NFL’s best running game. Without the Giants’ offensive line, you could count out Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combining for over 1,600 yards. Both of these teams had 3 Pro Bowlers on the line.

The final solution? When your team is on the clock and they need a running back and an offensive lineman, hope they go for a Anthony Davis or Trent Williams instead of a C.J. Spiller or a Jahvid Best. Sure, you’ll boo on draft day, but it will pay dividends down the road.

What do you think? If your team needs a running back, what player would you want them to draft in which round?

Besides CJ Spiller, What RB Do You Want Your Team To Draft?

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