Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Go Ahead, Draft a RB

While listening to the usual insane garbage on drivetime sportstalk radio ("Manti Te'o, whose name I cannot pronounce despite hearing it on ESPN for 15 days straight, is a great prospect! And a locker room laughingstock crazycakes who got exposed as a weak linebacker by Alabama! And a delicious dessert topping!") I heard something that made me think: data. Give me data.

The line I heard was that teams needed to draft highly-regarded running backs early.  The commentator (seriously, I don't remember who, it may have been a morning-drunk caller on a local show for all I know) said that teams definitely wanted to grab quality running backs in the early rounds.

But, I thought, what about Arian Foster? What about Bill Belichick's tendency to call promising fans down from the stands, give them a mouthguard, and say "follow Logan Mankins to daylight?"

So, skeptical, I grabbed the list of the top rushers from each team for 2012, and looked up their draft rounds.

Turns out that the leading rusher for 12 teams in the league were running backs drafted in the first round.  (The Panthers' top rusher is a first-rounder, too, but he's a quarterback, and that says more about the Panthers' problems than anything else).  Of the remaining 19 teams, 11 have a top rusher drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round.  Only 8 guys were drafted in the 5th, 6th, or 7th, or were undrafted free agents.

The Super Bowl winner's top rusher was drafted in the 2nd round; the Super Bowl loser's top rusher was drafted in the 3rd.

So I guess what I'm saying is, if you're an NFL general manager reading this blog, first, what the hell is wrong with you, but second, go ahead and draft that early-round running back prospect. He may pay off.
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