Are running backs truly a “dime-a-dozen” position? Some head coaches (e.g. Mike Shanahan) have no trouble fitting low-round draft choices into their system. Those players immediately become key contributors and their numbers are comparable to many of the NFL’s elite rushers.
Not the case for the Tennessee Titans. The Titans used a first-round pick when they drafted Chris Johnson during the 2008 NFL Draft. Johnson immediately established himself as a player who was often included in conversation with Adrian Peterson as the NFL’s top running back. Johnson’s best season came when he rushed for 2,006 yards during his 2009 sophomore season.
What about the lack of depth behind Johnson? Consider some of the non first-round selected running backs who’ve suited up in the two-toned blue.
Jamie Harper (2011, Round 4)
Javon Ringer (2009, Round 5)
Chris Henry (2007, Round 2)
LenDale White (2006, Round 2)
Quinton Ganther (2006, Round 7)
Damien Nash (2005, Round 5)
Troy Fleming (2004, Round 6)
Chris Brown (2003, Round 3)
Dan Alexander (2001, Round 6)
Mike Green (2000, Round 7)
Dime-a-dozen? More like having to purchase 10 items to get that 10-for-10 bargain. You only wanted one but had to purchase 10. White and Brown had somewhat memorable short stints. Not what a team expects from a second-rounder or third-rounder though.
Does that lack of success concern anyone else? Ruston Webster wasn’t the general manager for any of those drafts. Maybe his scouting team and he’ll have better success evaluating which running backs are bound to have success at this level. Which ones fit into Ken Whisenhunt‘s offensive scheme.
Pro Football Reference