Saturday, September 20, 2014

Success rate of taking runningbacks high in the draft lately is atrocious

I decided to take a look at recently-drafted runningbacks league-wide to support an impression I had, and found the results interesting, so I' going to post them here in a rare Redskins-unrelated piece. Trent Richardson gets a lot of flak for being so obviously and visibly disappointing, but he's hardly the only runningback taken recently who hasn't lived up to the hype. In fact, there are many times more failures than success stories.

Simply put, there are a lot of these dudes. Not all out of the league or anything, but guys like Darren McFadden, who flashed and was built up as ready to break out for years, and then rather suddenly stopped being talked about. The list goes on with names like Ingram, Williams, Jones... Even guys like Ryan Mathews and CJ Spiller may not be busts but have been extremely disappointing given their pedigree and expectations, and people discuss that a lot. Players managed to go straight from still-promising to forgotten and skip the vitriol that Richardson has incurred. It got me thinking and well...

Looking at 2008-2012 RBs drafted in the first two rounds (so, guys who are still fairly young but are now in at least their third season) yields the following:

'08 (8 backs)
4th overall, Darren McFadden, (Bust. Still on the Raiders, backing up a decrepit Maurice Jones-Drew)
13th overall, Jonathan Stewart (Huge disappointment. Panthers never even seemed to want him based on usage. Had one good season)
22nd, Felix Jones (Horrible bust, currently a free agent)
23rd, Rashard Mendenhall (Bust and hated for sympathizing with terrorists. Retired because nobody wanted him)
24th, Chris Johnson (Had a phenomenal early career, but quickly fell off, now being replacement-level on the Jets)
44th, Matt Forte (Good, reliable, versatile player)
55th, Ray Rice* (Was a good player, now suspended indefinitely)
64th (actually first pick of the third round), Kevin Smith (Bust)

'09 (4 backs)
12th overall, Knowshon Moreno (Had a couple okayish years, but hasn't been impressive at all. Big disappointment)
27th, Donald Brown (Has contributed some in a backup role. Bust)
31st, Beanie Wells (Awful bust)
53rd, LeSean McCoy (One of the best HBs in the NFL)

'10 (7 backs)
8th overall, CJ Spiller (Talented, but injury concerns and constant usage issues)
12th, Ryan Mathews (Bad or hurt most of the time. Finally putting it together recently, though still with tons of injury issues)
30th, Jahvid Best (concussioned out of the league)
36th, Dexter McCluster (Never more than a few-play-a-game gadget change of pace guy. Bust)
51st, Toby Gerhart (Plodding, sub-par starter after being a fine backup for his rookie deal)
58th, Ben Tate (Okay, but not a great back. Could never even stay healthy as a backup, is now failing to as a starter)
59th, Montario Hardesty (Utter bust)

'11 (6 backs)
28th overall, Mark Ingram (Has been all-but-useless, unable to really earn the job over Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Khiry Robinson, and other uninspiring backs. Looking a little better lately, but to this point, bust)
38th, Ryan Williams (Bust)
57th, Shane Vereen (Solid passing-down back. Disappointing for a 2nd rounder)
58th, Mikel Leshoure (Bust)
62nd, Daniel Thomas (Awful bust)

'12 (5 backs)
3rd overall, Trent Richardson (So far, has looked like one of the bigger busts in recent memory-- for two teams)
31st, Doug Martin (Good rookie year, hasn't done much since. Hurt a lot)
32nd, David Wilson (Bust with injury concerns)
50th, Isaiah Pead (75 career rushing yards)
61st, LaMichael James (LaBusted so hard he got cut already)

*Bold: Success
*Italics: Bust

You'll notice, I bolded 3 names out of 30 over a 5-year span, and one of them had a bad year last year and is now suspended forever. After those three, Chris Johnson is the only one you would ever have called good, with the jury still very much out on Martin. There are 17 or 18 guys there that I would consider outright busts.

*Ray Rice is an add case since he's both coming off a bad year, and now suspended indefinitely. The latter seemed like more of a huge freak incident than being in any way related to his drafting, so I decided not to count it against him, and while last season was bad, I'm not ready to downgrade him based on one season after a few really great ones. Chris Johnson, as essentially the next option, has a number of seasons proving he is no longer a very good option under his belt. Regardless, if neither or both had been bolded, it doesn't detract from the salient point I'm making.

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