Hat tip to my friend Curt who assisted with this piece
The changes around Dove Valley these days are numerous. New faces, new coaches and a new era. Two familiar faces that are sticking around is our great RB's coach Bobby Turner and zone blocking instructor, Rick Dennison. The madness of Alex Gibbs left a successful legacy in Bronco Nation. One may argue that the reason McDaniels decided to keep these men is because sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Many here at MHR know that I have been clamoring for some time now about the need for a 1A running back, in my post Rushing to win, I try to show how a dominant running game improves a teams record and ability to reach the post season.
The next phase of my argument lies in the Super Bowl winners since 1990. I decided to look at Championships because for so long in Denver, that is all that mattered, and frankly it still should. So looking at the Super Bowl winners, how many of them had a 1st round pick running back?
Year Team RB Draft Postion
1990 - NYGiants - O. Anderson - 1st Round
1991 - Washington - E. Byner - 10th Round
1992 - Dallas - E. Smith - 1st Round
1993 - Dallas - E. Smith - 1st Round
1994 - San Fran. - R. Waters - 2nd Round
1995 - Dallas - E. Smith - 1st Round
1996 - Green Bay - E. Bennett - 4th Round
1997 - Denver - T. Davis 6th Round (played like a first rounder)
1998 - Denver - T. Davis 6th Round
1999 - St. Louis - M. Faulk - 1st Round
2000 - Baltimore - J. Lewis - 1st Round
2001 - New England - A. Smith - 1st Round
2002 - Tampa Bay - M. Pittman/ M. Alstott 4th/2nd Rounds
2003 - New England - A. Smith - 1st Round
2004 - New England - C. Dillion - 2nd Round
2005 - Pittsburgh - W. Parker (leading rusher- undrafted) J. Bettis 1st Round
2006 - Indianapolis - J. Addai* - 1st Round
2007 - NY Giants - B. Jacobs - 4th Round
Out of the last 18 Super Bowl winners there are 10 first round running backs or 55%. I may be stretching it by adding Jerome Bettis but he did lead the Steelers in carries in the Super Bowl with 14 so he was important.
The other running backs, save Bennett and Pittman, all played like first round running backs and all were dynamic
2008 - Cardinals - E. James - 1st Round (leading rusher) or Pittsburgh - W. Parker undrafted, Pittsburgh has a 1st round back on their roster but was not vital to the teams success. These two teams are not used in the data.
*J. Addai was the Colts leading rusher and led the team in rushing TD's and attempts but D. Rhodes was the starter.
Saying at the very minimum you need 22 players to field a team and 3 specialists: a long snapper, a punter and kicker. So out of these 25 players, a RB is only 4% of the team. Then why would 55% of the Championship teams from 1990 use a first round running back? Because the position is that important. A running back is constantly engaged in the ball game, from rushing, blocking, catching, running play fakes, controlling the clock and most importantly scoring.
Not all these Championship teams drafted these running backs, they were aquired a different way, so if you want to get a FA stud back like Stephen Jackson or Marion Barber, I am all for that too, but just not as much as I am some younger healthier legs.
But looking at these Denver Broncos, we have all the pieces in place to draft a 1st Round RB with no history of injury or fumbling, and complete the offense and build a dynasty! Head Coach - 32 years old, Pro Bowl Quarterback - 25 years old, Pro Bowl Wide Receiver - 24 years old, All Pro Left Tackle - 22 years old, Stud RT - 23 years old, Playmaking WR - 22 years old. So what is missing? And it isn't Tony Scheffler!
Now for the P. Hillis argument. He is great, a warrior and a vital H Back. He proved he can carry the ball and is definitely going to part of the offense. In my humble opinion he isn't a feature back. I know everyone says teams are getting away from featured backs, and you need two or three good ones and I agree but that doesn't mean one of those three shouldn't be special. It is a position of attrition and running backs are in harms way frequently and get banged up often. With that said, you can't draft in fear of busts or injuries you just can't and if you value them less because of it, then you aren't paying attention to over half of the last 18 Champions.
Next is the argument that this position is not the Broncos biggest need. That is true, but let me ask you this. Let's say hypothetically that the Broncos were stripped of their first round pick this year, do you think Mike Nolan would still make us better? Do you think he needs that pick to improve the defense? I don't. The impact of a dynamic running back, in my opinion, is greater than the impact of defensive player.
My final argument is who the Broncos are, a rushing team. That is what won our trophies. This administration is keeping our vital parts; Bobby Turner to teach the RB's and Rick Dennison to teach the staples of the zone blocking scheme, which is much more than just cutting the backside pursuit. McDaniels sees he has something special in Turner and Dennison and running the football is a success that the Broncos have enjoyed for decades.
Looking at all the potential additions, the numerous Free Agents, 9 Draft picks and however many trades that may take place, I am only asking for one pick, just one.
If Maulauga is available at 12, I would be awfully temped, but after doing some research, watching some film and looking at incredible natural talent....
I just don't know(shon) anymore!!