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Round of the Runner: Running Backs On The March

The first running back taken in the 2014 NFL draft was Bishop Sankey, the Washington product. He was taken with the 54th overall selection. In 2013 Giovani Bernard was taken #37 overall, the deepest the draft had ever gone without a running back being taken since the modern draft began in 1967.

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Why have we seen the decline in value on the running back position? It's a combination of factors, the rise of the passing attacks in the NFL, the average career span of a rusher being lower than any other position and the fact that most NFL teams now use a running backs by committee approach. That's not to say the running back position isn't one that NFL teams value, it's just that investing a first round selection is a big deal, and you want to maximize the return.

However let me say this without a doubt in my mind, there will be a running back taken in the first round during the 2015 NFL draft and we could well see the first top 10 selection of a running back since Trent Richardson in 2012, who was taken #3 overall by the Cleveland Browns.

Will the Jets be drafting a running back? The chances are they probably won't. However if they wanted to move on from Chris Johnson, which they should and bring in someone to compliment Ivory, we could easily see a running back taken if the scouting department believe that's where the value is, remember you don't really go into the 1st round looking to fill a need, you go in looking to take the very best player available.

I managed to catch quite a few college games yesterday. At least parts of the game anyway. I watched as Melvin Gordon set the FBS rushing record with 408 yards against the ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. He broke former Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinsons 406 yard record set in 1999. The record was broken on his final play of the game, Gordon took the hand-off and raced 26 yards for his 4th touchdown on the day.

In recording over 400 yards, Melvin Gordon has surely put his name forward as a real Heisman candidate. So far this year he's had 223 carries for 1909 yards and 23 touchdowns. Not to mention for the first time in his career, he's also become a little bit of a threat in the receiving game, although he's only had 11 receptions on the year for 83 yards, he's had 2 receiving touchdowns.

Melvin Gordon has first round talent and is eligible for the 2015 NFL draft, he should be a first round selection.

I was switching between the Wisconsin/Nebraska game and the Alabama/Mississippi State game.I remember seeing T.J Yeldon as a freshman back in 2012. With the offensive line Alabama had, it was hardly surprising to see him use his natural ability on his way to a 1108 yard season with 12 touchdowns. The following year he did even better, 1235 yards and 14 touchdowns. This year he's been experiencing a few nagging injuries, however he's still registered 758 yards and 6 touchdowns. With an explosive ability to get to the edge and a toughness to run between the tackles, Yeldon will get a lot of attention when it comes to the draft in 2015. He has the potential to be a first round talent for sure.

Following that game, I have a quick breather and then took in the Auburn/Georgie game. I was naturally tuning in to watch the return of star running back Todd Gurley. Sure enough in his first action after a suspension he raced the length of the field for a massive kick-off return touchdown. Unfortunately it was called back, but he showed explosion, strength and acceleration. Unfortunately he would leave the game in the 4th quarter with a knee injury but before he did that he put up 138 yards and a touchdown. He is widely considered the best running back in the country with his vision, patience, power, acceleration and cutting ability. He will be highly regarded in the 2015 NFL draft and he could end up as a top 10 selection.

However in that game, the runner who really impressed was freshman Nick Chubb, a 5-10 230lb back who has everything and I mean everything. He has the speed, power, vision, cutting ability, patience and he's not a bad blocker either which is strange for a Freshman. He ran for 7.6 yards a carry last night and ended the game with 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. You won't be seeing him on Sundays anytime soon, but he has future star written all over him.

Cameron Artis-Payne on the Aubun side was also impressive. He's been all over the country in prep schools and community colleges, however with his chance to start this year, he's recorded 1276 yards and 10 touchdowns. He seems to disappear into a pile and comes out the other end, picking up big chunks of 5-6 yards at a time. I don't think he'll be a first round guy, but he has a lot of talent and as a Senior he'll he playing on a Sunday somewhere next season.

This article only references the guys I saw first hand yesterday. I haven't even mentioned Mike Davis over in South Carolina who has first round talent. Ameer Abdullah who I saw yesterday, but was really disappointed in, especially his pass blocking, he almost got his QB killed on 3-4 occasions. Tevin Coleman from Indiana who has 1678 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this year. Duke Johnson from Miami and Jay Ajayi both have special talent that will likely land them in the 2nd round.

In short, there is a ton of talent at the running back position and a lot of it will likely be available in the 2015 NFL draft, if you need a running back going into next season, you're in luck. I guarantee that we'll see at least one RB in the first round and I wouldn't be surprised to see 2-4 in there.