2011 NFL Draft: Learning from the Recent History of RBs in the Draft

Eric SamulskiCorrespondent IApril 21, 2011

Ingram seems certain to the the first RB off the board
Ingram seems certain to the the first RB off the boardKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Looking back at the recent history of the draft, the RB spot is one of the most interesting positions to analyze. Even though solid talent has always been found late in the draft (Ahmad Bradshaw, Terrell Davis) or even gone undrafted (Arian Foster), RB continues to be a position that is heavily selected early in the draft.

In fact, you have to go back all the way to 2003 for the last draft where three RBs weren’t taken in the first round. More surprisingly, since 1985 only three drafts have had less than three RBs selected in the first round. To reiterate, only three times in the last 25 years have their been fewer than three RBs taken in the first round. The last draft that had fewer than two RBs taken in the first round was all the way back in 1984.

Despite the success of late-round RBs, the position is so essential to success in the NFL that teams have continued to draft them early, even as the league transitions into more pass-heavy offenses.

With that in mind, I believe that two RBs will again be selected in this year's first round. Although the talent level isn’t as high as years past, there are many teams at the tail end of the first round who could use a RB to either lead or complete a duo, which has become the new trend in the NFL.

If two RBs are indeed taken in the first round, the two best bets are Mark Ingram and Mikel Leshoure.

Ingram is a virtual lock. The former Heisman winner is a true every down back, mixing speed, strength and open field ability. Leshoure is another back I consider to be a first round lock. He had a tremendous year for Illinois and has all the makings of an NFL starter. He is a strong receiver and can run both inside and bounce to the outside.

Over the last five seasons an average of twenty RBs have been taken in the NFL draft. In no particular order, here are the guys that seem likely to have their name called:

 

1-     Mark Ingram

2-     Mikel Leshoure

3-     Ryan Williams

4-     Kendal Hunter

5-     DeMarco Murray

6-     Shane Vereen

7-     Jordan Todman

8-     Jacquizz Rogers

9-     Taiwan Jones

10-   Jamie Harper

11-   Derrick Locke

12-   Roy Helu Jr.

13-   Da’Rel Scott 

14-   Graig Cooper

15-   Delone Carter

16-   Stevan Ridley

17-   Mario Fannin

18-   Daniel Thomas

19-    Dion Lewis

20-    Alex Green