These days, the idea of taking a running back in the first round of the NFL Draft is borderline insanity.
Which is why Charles Davis has not one, but two, running backs going in the first round this year. Davis has Melvin Gordon going 17th overall to San Diego, and he has Todd Gurley going eighth overall to Atlanta – two spots ahead of Marcus Mariota (tenth overall, St. Louis).
Might we actually see Gurley, the Georgia product, stay in-state? Might we actually see him drafted ahead of Mariota?
“If we didn’t have the knee injury – and we know it’s a huge if and you can’t take it away because we do have the knee injury. I deal with reality,” Davis, an NFL Network analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “But if we didn’t have the knee injury, ain’t no question he’s a top-10 pick. No question. Even in this day and age where everybody keeps talking about devaluing running backs, I take it back to this. When Adrian Peterson went in his year, what did he go? Seven? Detroit picked second that year, and I believe they got Calvin Johnson.”
Yeah, not a bad pick.
“You can never say that was a bad selection,” Davis said. “They hit the jackpot. But when was the last good runner they had?”
Probably Barry Sanders.
“The funny part was, in my last mock draft that year, I put Adrian Peterson there to Detroit and people lost their mind,” Davis recalled. “I still contend it would have been a good selection because we saw what kind of career he’s had, but you can’t argue with what Calvin Johnson gave them.”
Still, the takeaway is clear: Elite, game-changing running backs are worthy of top-10 consideration.
“I just know that running the football – we keep talking about devaluing running backs – but running the football is still the gateway to playoffs and Super Bowl success,” Davis said. “New England had lousy running stats for the year. The guy that led them in rushing last year didn’t play from the time he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Jonas Gray – and you remember he was late for a meeting the next week and Belichick taught him a lesson and we ever really saw him again. But during the playoffs, LeGarrette Blount was a man.
“And some people say, ‘That proves my point. You don’t have to have a big-time lead runner,’” Davis continued. “Look, you got to have a runner that’s a force. Marshawn Lynch, back-to-back years, has taken Seattle to the Super Bowl. We can go Russell Wilson all we want. I’ll put it to you this way – and I’m a huge Russell Wilson fan – but let me ask you this: If Russell Wilson averages 30 to 35 throws per game, are we talking about him in the same light as we are now? When Denver went to the Super Bowl two years ago, didn’t (Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball) have a big year?”
They combined for 2,290 total yards and 17 touchdowns.
“Okay, so running the football is still a big deal,” Davis said, “even if Peyton Manning is your quarterback.”