Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley's Best Landing Spots After 2021 NFL Draft Day 2May 1, 2021
In today's age of football, it is a win for the running back position to see two players picked in the first round of the NFL draft.
That was the case Thursday in the opening round of the 2021 draft when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Alabama's Najee Harris with the No. 24 pick and the Jacksonville Jaguars picked Clemson's Travis Etienne with the No. 25 pick.
It didn't take long for another running back to come off the board Friday when the Denver Broncos selected North Carolina's Javonte Williams with the third pick of the second round.
That's when the momentum ended, as no other running back came off the board until the San Francisco 49ers took Ohio State's Trey Sermon with the No. 88 overall pick in the middle of the third round.
There are still a number of teams around the league that could use more depth in the backfield, but the remainder of the 2021 draft isn't their only option. Le'Veon Bell and Todd Gurley may be past their respective primes, but they are also proven veterans who could come in and contribute right away for a handful of teams that need more production.
With that in mind, look for the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons or New York Jets to emerge as potential landing spots.
It was something of a surprise that the Dolphins didn't go for a running back with one of their five picks in the first three rounds, although they did add some pieces around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg and tight end Hunter Long.
Still, this team needs a running back so much that Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald suggested it may be an "organizational blind spot" in a column.
"For whatever reason, the Dolphins haven't invested in a running back early in the draft despite an obvious need and failed to do so again Friday evening," Salguero wrote. "And after passing on players such as Jonathan Taylor and J.K Dobbins, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and D'Andre Swift last year, this year's whiff on a potential starter is more than frustrating."
While Bell and Gurley, who are both three-time Pro Bowlers, probably can't carry an offense at this point, they could take advantage of the space they would find in Miami's offense with opposing defenses focused on slowing Waddle, DeVante Parker and Will Fuller on the outside.
The same could be said for the Jets and Falcons, as defenses will have to account for Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder in New York and Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Atlanta (assuming the Falcons don't make any head-turning trades).
Gurley was in Atlanta last season, but Bell is someone who could fill his role as a veteran who takes advantage of that space.
In New York, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson figures to be under the spotlight from the moment he arrives. Bell or Gurley could at least take some of the pressure off his shoulders as a marquee name who draws headlines all while filling a need in the backfield.
These teams didn't take a running back in the first three rounds of the draft, but they may look to address the position via free agency with such notable names still available.