NFL teams strike gold in mid-round running backs

OU's DeMarco Murray and OSU's Kendall Hunter are projected to go in the third round of this week's NFL Draft. And that's not a bad thing.
By Jake Trotter, Staff Writer, Published: April 26, 2011

The unearthing of starting backs outside the first round “happens all the time,” draft analyst Mel Kiper said during an ESPN conference call.

The Dolphins, Bears and Buccaneers, meanwhile, committed their top-five picks to running backs in 2005 and hardly got their money's worth.

Benson lasted three years in Chicago before he was released. Williams is merely a backup to Blount. Brown's once-promising career has been derailed by injuries, which has Miami reportedly considering drafting Ingram.

What's more, the rise of the pass and running-back-by-committees have devalued the need to gamble a high pick or high-pick dollars on one runner.

Green Bay won the 2011 Super Bowl using an array of runners, including sixth-round rookie James Starks, the Packers' leading rusher in the Super Bowl.

New Orleans won the Super Bowl the year before relying on a committee that featured undrafted backs Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas.

“Having a franchise running back is not as important as it was,” said NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots. “Unless you have an Adrian Peterson on the board, someone really special, I think you go ahead and wait. I think it's been proved that you don't have to take a running back with your first-round pick.”

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