By John Kaufman
NFL Draft Analyst
As I talked about in my Linebackers Ranking article, the running back position has become increasingly devalued in recent NFL history. I think it’s safe to assume that we were all taken back when, just over a month ago, the Rams cut their centerpiece running back, Todd Gurley. Gurley is an NFL baby; he’s just 25 (!!!) years-old, yet the Rams – per Bill Barnwell on espn.com – were willing to carry $20.2 million in dead cap money over the next two years just to get him off their roster. In other words, the Rams front office decided that they would rather light $20 million on fire instead of simply keeping Gurley and giving him $10.5 million for one season, or $14.5 million for the next two. I mean, there’s making a statement and then there’s making a statement. The Rams screamed out the latter.
But, for every double-bladed red lightsaber there is a blue lightsaber ready to keep the peace. (Oh my god, the football nerd is also a Star Wars nerd. Who could have seen that coming…) Balance, my young Padawan. Balance is the key. So if you are of the belief that the running backs who are already on NFL rosters are becoming more and more devalued, then it makes sense that their incoming rookie counterparts are actually worth quite a bit more since they are younger, have less mileage on their bodies, and will be paid rookie wages. And as Todd Gurley and his agent will tell you, GMs around the NFL seem to think that last part is pretty dang important.
The 2020 rookie running back class is a very interesting one, perhaps more so than in quite a few years. It has some top-caliber talent in it while also providing impressive depth. And while it’s a really good bet that none of these guys will be part of a Zoom meeting this Thursday evening, it doesn’t mean that they won’t instantly improve the rosters of their future franchises.
This class was a fun one to study and sort through. Check out my rankings below and as you do, check out the accompanying podcast in which Chandler Adams and I talked about each prospect’s NFL potential.
Across the Board Sports