NFL Network analyst Brian Billick opened his running back chat on NFL.com on Tuesday by saying that the value of today’s running back as been diminished, not because of skill, but because team are not putting a high value on the position.
Of the five leading rushers last season, only the Titans’ Chris Johnson was a first-round pick. The Texans’ Arian Foser was undrafted, the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles was a third-rounder, the Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew was the 60th player chosen, and the Falcons’ Michael Turner was a fifth-round pick, who was acquired via trade.
So who looks to be the top running back taken? Alabama’s Mark Ingram has been widely viewed as the top pick even though he doesn’t have breakaway speed.
“The guy who he is being compared to favorably, Emmitt Smith, didn’t have great breakaway speed either,” Billick said. “Ingram is the complete package … balance, strength, and runs with an attitude and always gets positive yards. Even though he wasn’t utilized this way at Alabama, he also has good hands and can be used out of the backfield. That all adds up to being a first-round pick.”
Billick went on to say that Ingram might be the most underrated back in the draft.
“Ingram will prove to be a better back than he’s currently rated, even if he goes in the first half of the first round,” Billick said. “I love the way he ran with the ball, always positive yards. He has very good hands and will be better out of the backfield than he was able to show at Alabama. The only reason he’s not rated higher is the league is in the mode that they think they can get good value in later rounds.”