The 2017 NFL Draft will likely yield a running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they can find that player after the first round.
First round running backs are all the rage right now with Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, and Christian McCaffrey headlining an impressive group. Even the latter back could end up going in the top ten if recent reports can be believed.
Ezekiel Elliott’s big first season on the heels of Todd Gurley’s impressive 13 games in his rookie year have made teams believers in first round running backs again. Once out of favor, teams are willing to dip back into the running back pool with the valuable first round selections. With some prospects, like Elliott and Fournette, it is easy to see why. They are simply that dominant.
MMQB’s The College Column went further than simply identifying the prospects that should be sure-fire first rounders, though. In Emily Kaplan’s work she organized prospects from the last three years into a ranking of the top 15 with the help of a scout. Fournette was not the only one on that list. In fact, there were more than three 2017 backs who made the cut.
Here are 2017’s backs on the list with the rankings in parentheses:
- Leonard Fournette (2)
- Dalvin Cook (3)
- Joe Mixon (6)
- Alvin Kamara (9)
- Christian McCaffrey (10)
- D’Onta Foreman (15)
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While Fournette and Cook headline the class, it is clear that value could be had anywhere. McCaffrey’s dual-threat nature as a runner and receiver has him rocketing up boards, making him a likely top-round pick, but others have more variable value. Mixon, for example, could go anywhere from the first round to undrafted depending on how much teams fear his off-field incident in which he struck a woman. Meanwhile, Kamara and Foreman could be valuable pickups in the second to fourth rounds.
No matter where these top running backs end up going, it is clear that value can be had outside of the first round. There is no way that all six of them will be off the board at the end of the first round, thereby providing excellent value for a team that is willing to wait to see which prospect drops. That may not allow a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars to draft the top prospect in Fournette, but it could still yield a talented, impressive runner.