RB draft in 2021

Recently there is not much talk about RBs on mock drafts. Since in the league running back by committees are getting more widely used, elite RBs are slowly losing value.

Let’s face the fact, we can’t imagine a draft with 2 running backs selected in the Top 10, like it was in 2017, not just this draft for years to come. This is not because of the lack of talent in 2021, on the contrary this is a really promising RB corp, but the league is not heading into a direction where workhorse RBs are heavily used.

2021 NFL Draft - Wikipedia

So this leaves us with the question:

Will be any RB(s) selected in the first round in 2021?

What teams are interested drafting an RB?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers moved away from Conner, and left with quantity over quality. McFarland Jr. did not shown any sign of breaking out. They could go with an RB, they could add a weapon to Big Ben’s arsenal. The issue is the team lost Villanueva and Pouncey, they really need to address this in the draft. The franchise need to protect Big Ben, if they want to compete.

Chance for a 1st round RB: 30%

Los Angeles Chargers

Similar to the Steelers, the offensive line needs help. We can safely say, the Chargers backfield was chaotic last year. Last season 5 RB was used. If we put aside the injury, Ekeler was far from expectations, he was not that efficient as a three down back. The franchise could go for a run first RB, and Ekeler can focus more on the passing plays.

Chance for a 1st round RB: 15%

New York Jets

Jets started a rebuild (again). New coach, new QB. The previous QB went downhill. Darnold got 98 sack in 3 years, and was not the QB they was hoping for. We can assume the bad offensive line also contributed to the ineffective rungame as well. So the really need to strengthen the passprotection and the runblocking as well. A dual threat RB could be a great addition to the team, to take off some weight of the new QB.

Chance for a 1st round RB: 15%

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins comes with huge draft capital to this years draft. they have 4 pick in the first 2 round. The defense is really showed potential, the have someone to replace Van Noy, and still draft offensive skill players. They have a packed backfield, and the have the pick to add a real RB1 to the pack. Of course, the Dolphins system does not rely requires elite RB, so this would be just a good to have addition.

Chance for a 1st round RB: 25%

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals signed Conner for one year. In a 17 game long regular season, depth on this position can be a factor. The franchise lost Drake, and left with Edmonds, who is really a third down back. With the free agency moves, the Cardinals are showing sings of switching to Win now mode. Adding a top talent RB to the backfield could be the last piece needed in this offense.

Chance for a 1st round RB: 35%

Other teams

49ers, Saints, Texans, Seahawks, Falcons 

Talents

Travis Etienne – The most complex RB in the class, he is great on the ground and in the passing game as well. He was one of Lawrence’s favorite targets, he complemented the Tiger’s offense. In 2020 his number declined, but he is still one of the best (maybe the best) prospect this draft.

Best landing spots: Jets, Steelers, Dolphins

Najee Harris – Also really good dual threat RB. He is very confident in goalline situations. He is a top-shelf player on his position, worthy to call an Alabama RB. Hi is familiar with complex play designs. It would not be a surprise if goes off the board from the RBs first.

Best landing spots: Saints, Jets, Cardinals

Javonte Williams – A typical ‘rough-and-tumble’ RB. He was a great asset in North Carolina. Williams was in charge of goalline work, and he is a great blocker as well. Could be a great complementary player in a backfield. With great Pro day numbers, the jumped up on the rankings, he can be picked too early on draft day.

Best landing spots: Chargers, Saints

Michael Carter – Carter is very close to Williams. They come from the same team. They were a different type of players. He can be great in the passing game, but his not as good after contact as Williams is. Still, he can be a real steal of the draft.

Best landing spots: 49ers, Bengals, Jaguars

Chuba Hubbard – In 2019 Hubbard ran the most yards and had 21 TD-t. He is a top prospect. He is forgotten because of off-field issues. His terrible 2020, ended with an opt-out (Link). Hi will slide, so can be a great late value pick.

Best landing spots: Falcons, Seahawks

Keep an eye on

Jermar Jefferson, Kylin Hill, Kenny Gainwell

Conclusion

This draft is full of talent, but no team is in dire need of a three down back. Harris and Etienne is a top talent, after them the “ranking” is vague. There is a chance, no RB will be picked in the first round. In 2020 five RB went out in the second round, we can expect the same this year.

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