Running Backs, The Shortest Tenured Position.

To begin with, I must make a "BIG SHOUT OUT" to for their fantastic compilation of statistical data that they consistently keep current on every aspect of the NFL.

My hat is off to the guys who carry the rock! What a beating they take to make a living. The best of the best earn every penny they're paid, primarily due to the toll that the constant beating takes on the body. Great RB's are not easy to find as we shall see in this study.

Our own super talented Terrel Davis can attest to the danger of the position. It isn't hard to imagine the number of records he could hold had a knee injury not cut his career short early in his fifth season.



I love this Pic! Although TD is almost horizontal to the ground, his legs are still grabbing yardage through the air! # 69 Mark Schlereth is braced to give him a spring board! Ya gotta love it!

In just his 1st four seasons, (61 games) TD racked up 6,413 yards rushing and another 1181 receiving. He truly was an all purpose back.

He averaged 124.4 yards and 1 TD per game during those 61 games with a 4.75 yard per attempt average. You can see why John Elway hated the guy! (Heavy sarcasm)

In 1999, Davis tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament of his right knee, all in one injurious play. The crazy part is that it didn't happen while he was carrying the ball. He was trying to make a tackle on an interception thrown against the New York Jets. (Shame on you Brian Griese!)

It was the fourth game of the season, and he was gone for 23 games. He was never the same after that. He started 4 games that year, and only 12 more during the next two seasons, before retiring at the end of 2001.

Davis was drafted by the Broncos (1995) in the sixth round (196th pick overall), He only started 14 games that year, but still racked up 1117 yards and 7 TD's.

In his best year(1998) he rushed for 2008 yards (He is one of only five players to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season) (+217 receiving), from 392 attempts, and he averaged 5.1 yards per carry with 23 TD's(combined).

With Davis and Elway gone, the Broncos went from SB winners to a 4 game winning season, and the bottom of their 5 team division. What a fall from grace. That sounds a lot like the Colts situation last year, other than the Super Bowl win. They managed to win the "Suck for Luck" contest without their star QB.

That ends the nod to the greatest RB in Bronco history. If he could have averaged what he accomplished during his first 4 years, and stretched that out for 6 more, he would have ended up with 18,985 all purpose yards, 153 TD's, with 4.75 yards per carry!

He would've only needed just less than 12,000 more yards to break the now all-time mark set by Emmitt Smith of 18,355 yards, but since Davis was averaging 1,600 yards a season, it would've only taken him about 8 seasons to set the record, which is two seasons less than Emmitt Smith played.

IF ONLY he didn't bring it on every play, he wouldn't have tried to tackle that guy and then just maybe...but then if he didn't have that mind set, he would never have been as great as he was! After starting just 77 games for us, he is still the Broncos all time rushing leader.

I worked backwards from 1999(the last year with a RB still on the 2011 roster) and ended with the 2008 season, (9 years) taking a look at several different factors that I hope will be of interest.

Ricky Williams & Kevin Faulk were the oldest tenured RB's on the roster last year.

A first round pick by the Saints, Ricky played for 3 teams during his career & officially retired this year. He appeared in 147 career games (84 starts), posting 2,431 carries for 10,009 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns, and added 342 receptions for 2,606 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns with five 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

As a second round pick, Kevin Faulk has played his entire career with the Patriots, and out of the 161 games he's played in, he only started 47, with 24 of those coming in just 4 years. This may be the reason that he has lasted so long. (He is not on the Pats 2012 roster, and told that "he will retire if the New England Patriots are not interested in re-signing him.)

162 Running Backs were selected during this 9 year period. The break down per round is: 25) 1st, 22) 2nd, 22) 3rd, 30) 4th, 16) 5th, 18) 6th & 29) 7th round picks. I was surprised buy these totals, not that I had a clue what they would end up, but just the fact that the third and seventh round topped the group.

Of these 162 RB's, 18 (11%) never made a roster spot. 1 second rounder, 1) 3rd, 1) 4th, 1) 5th, 4) 6th & 10 7th rounders were all cut in camp. That means that almost 35% of all seventh round picks are a total waste! A closer look shows that the 2000 7th round pick Chris Massey is the only one who amounted to much at all. He was still on the 2011 roster after 10 years in the league.

Selected in 2004, 7th round pick Derrick Ward remained on the 2011 roster after 8 years, and the 04 season was the best of the 9 year stretch for 7th round picks. Of the 5 selected, 2 lasted 3 years, 2) 4y, & Derrick Ward is the other. Only four 7th Rnd RB's (13.8%) had careers of 5 years or more, with a total of 6 (20%) retiring after 4 years.

I'm thinking that a 14% chance of getting a RB that lasts five or more years is a pretty big reach. I'm sure that there has to be a different possition in this league that tops that crap shoot! But we haven't looked at the sixth round yet. 22% of 6th rounders vs. 35% of 7th rounders are cut in camp, but 2002 had 3 teams who lucked out when they selected (6r) Adrian Peterson, (2009 8y), (6r) Chester Taylor, (2011* 10y) (7r) Chris Massey (2011* 10y).

Since over 70% (13 of the 18) of the RB's who never make a roster come from the last two rounds it would be wise for teams to chose more carefully in those slots.

Here is the overall break down: (*#) = the number of those players who were still on the 2011 roster.

13y vets = two *2 (both retired)
12y = two *2 (not on a 2012 roster at this time)
11y = two *1 (not on a 2012 roster at this time)
10y = six *3 (not on a 2012 roster at this time)
09y = eight *2
08y = fourteen *5
07y = seventeen *7
06y = ten *6
05y = twenty five *8
04y = seventeen
03y = sixteen
02y = nineteen
01y = six
Cut = eighteen

The above list shows that just 38 of the 162 players (23.4%) selected in these 9 years remained on a roster last year, and eight of those retired or were cut in 2012, leaving just 18.5% of the group who still have a pretty good chance of making a paycheck for another year. With more than 80% of the RB's destined to work for no more than 5 years, it is a tough way to succeed in this sport.

You may recall from my previous post that, the league wide average of players who are gone after five years, which combines all NFL positions, is 51.3%, which blows away the 23% for RBs. That is a major issue these days with the new collective barganing agreement in place.

It used to be that the super star RB's could collect the big bucks early in their careers when they were at their best! Now, as I see it, only about 25 % of all RB's selected will ever be paid what their efforts are truely worth. I wonder how many of them realize that. It would be best for them to accept the shortest first contract that is allowed by the new CBA.

The selections who reach or exceed the five years, laid out based upon the round that they were selected, are as follows.


1st, 22 of 25 (88%)
2nd, 14 of 22 (63.6%)
3rd, 15 of 22 (68 %)
4th, 15 of 30 (50 %)
5th, 9 of 16 (56%)
6th, 5 of 18 (27.7%)
7th, 4 of 29 (13,7%)

Running Backs selected in the fourth round match up very well with the NFL average for all positions. Rounds 1 - 3 are substantially better, as we expect them to be. The 5th round was a big surprise! Selecting RB's in either of the last two rounds is a major "reach" if your intention is to find a player that will have any kind of longevity in this league.

That sums up my observations on this group, however, I went ahead and included the full list of players selected during the years involved, so that those of you who are interested may take a look. GO BRONCOS! I can feel a good year coming on!

Please notice: At the bottom of each years list in parenthesis there is (AVGY = #). This is the # of years that the group averaged giving us a quick comparison of the success of that draft based upon the groups longevity. (Keep in mind that the groups beyond 2001 still have an opportunity to improve their averages as some players are still active.)

Although 2007 has the lowest AVGY, they also have the largest # of players who are still active. (9)

1999 (18 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Edgerrin James.... 2009 11y
1 Ricky Williams...... 2011* 13y (retired)
2 J.J. Johnson......... 2001 3y
2 Kevin Faulk.......... 2011* 13y (retired)
2 Joe Montgomery... 2002 4y
2 Mike Cloud........... 2005 7y
2 Jermaine Fazande 2000 2y
3 Shawn Bryson...... 2006 8y
3 Amos Zereoue...... 2005 7y
4 Sedrick Irvin.......... 2000 2y
4 Sean Bennett .......2002 4y
4 Olandis Gary......... 2003 5y
5 Cecil Collins.......... 1999 1y
5 Charlie Rogers...... 2003 5y
5 De'Mond Parker.... 2000 2y
6 Lamarr Glenn....... Cut
7 Madre Hill............. 2002 4y
7 Autry Denson........ 2002 4y

(AVGY = 5.33)

The 1999 draft saw 2 RB's get taken in the first round, 5) 2nd, 2) 3rd, 3) 4th, 3) 5th, 1) 6th & 2) 7th round players selected.

Of these 18 selections, 1 didn't make the cut, 1 lasted a year, 3) 2y, 1) 3y, 4) 4y, 2) 5y, 2) 7y, 1) 8y, 1) 11y, & 2 lasted 13 years.

2000: (20 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Jamal Lewis..........2009 10y
1 Thomas Jones...... 2011* 12y (FA)
1 Ron Dayne........... 2007 8y
1 Shaun Alexander.. 2008 9y
1 Trung Cani............2003 4y
3 Travis Prentice.......2001 2y
3 J.R. Redmond.......2004 5y
3 Reuben Droughns 2008 9y
3 Doug Chapman.... 2003 4y
4 Curtis Keaton........ 2002 5y
4 Frank Moreau....... 2001 2y
5 Paul Smith............ 2007 8y
5 Michael Wiley........ 2002 3y
5 Sammy Morris.......2011* 12y (FA)
5 Chad Morton......... 2006 7y
6Thomas Hamner.... Cut
6 Mike Anderson...... 2007 8y
7 Mike Green........... 2002 3y
7 Shyrone Stith........ 2002 3y
7 Rondell Mealey..... 2002 3y

(AVGY = 5.85)

The 2000 draft saw 5) 1st, 4) 3rd, 2) 4th, 4) 5th, 2) 6th & 3) 7th round players selected.

Of these 20 selections, 1 didn't make the cut, 2 lasted 2 years, 5) 3y, 2) 4y, 1) 5y, 1) 7y, 3) 8y, 2) 9y, 1) 10y, & 2 lasted 12 years & counting.

2001 (15 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 L. Tomlinson......... 2011* 11y (FA)
1 Deuce McAllister....2008 8y
1 Michael Bennett.... 2010 10y
2 Anthony Thomas... 2007 7y
2 LaMont Jordan......2009 9y
2 Travis Henry.......... 2007 7y
3 James Jackson..... 2005 5y
3 Kevan Barlow....... 2006 6y
3 Travis Minor.......... 2008 8y
4 Rudi Johnson....... 2008 8y
4 George Layne....... 2004 4y
4 Correll Buckhalter. 2010 10y
5 Derrick Blaylock.... 2006 6y
5 Chris Barnes......... Cut
6 Dan Alexander...... 2003 3y

(AVGY = 6.8)

The 2001 draft saw 3) 1st, 3) 2nd, 3) 3rd, 3) 4th, 2) 5th & 1) 6th round players selected.

Of these 15 selections, 1 didn't make the cut, 1 lasted 3 years, 1) 4y, 1) 5y, 2) 6y, 2) 7y, 3) 8y, 1) 9y, 2) 10y, & 1 lasted 11 years & counting.

2002 (23 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 William Green........2005 4y
1 T.J. Duckett............2008 7y
2 DeShaun Foster.....2008 7y
2 Clinton Portis.........2010 9y
2 Maurice Morris.......2011* 10y (FA in 2012)
2 Ladell Betts...........2010 9y
3 Lamar Gordon.......2006 5y
3 Brian Westbrook....2010 9y
4 Jonathan Wells......2005 4y
4 Travis Stephens.....2002 1y
4 Najeh Davenport....2008 7y
5 Kyle Johnson.........2007 6y
5 Verron Haynes.......2009 8y
6 Josh Scobey..........2007 6y
6 Larry Ned...............2004 3y
6 Adrian Peterson.....2009 8y
6 Brian Allen.............2003 2y
6 Chester Taylor........2011* 10y (FA in 2012)
7 Luke Staley............Cut
7 Antwoine Womack.Cut
7 Leonard Henry.......2004 3y
7 Chris Massey.........2011* 10y (FA in 2012)(Massey switched from RB to LS after being drafted as a RB)
7 Jarrett Ferguson....Cut

(AVGY = 5.39)

The 2002 draft saw, 2) 1st, 4) 2nd, 2) 3rd, 3) 4th, 2) 5th, 5) 6th, & 5) 7th round players selected.

Of these 23 selections, 3 players were cut, 1 lasted 1 year, 1) 2y, 2) 3y, 2) 4y, 1) 5y, 2) 6y, 3) 7y, 2) 8y, 3) 9y, & 3 lasted 10 years and counting.

2003 (13 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Willis McGahee..... 2011* 9y
1 Larry Johnson....... 2011* 9y
3 Musa Smith...........2007 5y
3 Chris Brown..........2009 7y
4 Artose Pinner........ 2007 5y
4 Onterrio Smith...... 2004 2y
4 Quentin Griffin...... 2004 2y
4 Lee Suggs............ 2006 4y
4 L.Toefield.............. 2007 5y
6 Brock Forsey......... 2004 2y
7 Ahmaad Galloway. Cut
7 Brandon Drumm... Cut
7 J.T. Wall RB........... Cut

(AVGY = 3.84)

The 2003 draft saw, 2) 1st. 2) 3rd, 5) 4th, 1) 6th, & 3) 7th round players selected.

Of these 13 selections, 3 players were cut, 3 lasted 2years, 1) 4y, 3) 5y, 1) 6y, & 2 lasted 9 years and counting.

2004 (15 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Steven Jackson.... 2011* 8y
1 Chris Perry............ 2008 5y
1 Kevin Jones..........2008 5y
2 Tatum Bell............ 2008 5y
2 Julius Jones......... 2010 7y
2 Greg Jones........... 2011* 8y
4 Mewelde Moore..... 2011* 8y
4 Cedric Cobbs........ 2006 3y
5 Michael Turner...... 2011* 8y
6 Troy Fleming......... 2005 2y
7 A. Echemandu...... 2007 4y
7 Quincy Wilson...... 2007 4y
7 Derrick Ward......... 2011* 8y
7 Bruce Perry........... 2006 3y
7 Brandon Miree...... 2006 3y

(AVGY = 5.4)

The 2004 draft saw, 3) 1st, 3) 2nd, 2) 4th, 1) 5th, 1) 6, & 5) 7th round players selected.

Of these 15 selections, 1 lasted 2 years, 3) 3y, 2) 4y, 3) 5y, 1) 7y, & 5 have lasted 8 years and counting.

2005 (21 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Ronnie Brown....... 2011* 7y
1 Cedric Benson...... 2011* 7y
1 Cadillac Williams...2011* 7y
2 Eric Shelton.......... 2006 2y
3 Frank Gore........... 2011* 7y
3 Vernand Morency.. 2007 3y
3 Ryan Moats.......... 2009 5y
3 Maurice Clarett..... Cut
4 Marion Barber....... 2011* 7y
4 Brandon Jacobs.... 2011* 7y
4 Ciatrick Fason....... 2006 2y
4 Manuel White....... Cut
4 Alvin Pearman....... 2009 5y
4 Darren Sproles..... 2011* 7y
5 Damien Nash........ 2006 2y
6 Cedric Houston..... 2006 2y
6 DeAndra Cobb...... 2005 1y
7 Rick Razzano........ Cut
7 Lionel Gates......... 2007 3y
7 Anthony Davis....... Cut
7 Noah Herron......... 2006 2y

(AVGY = 3.62)

The 2005 draft saw, 3) 1st, 1) 2nd, 4) 3rd, 6) 4th, 1) 5th, 2) 6th, & 4) 7th round players selected.

Of these 21 selections, 4 were cut, 1 lasted 1 year, 5) 2y, 2) 3y, 2) 5y, & 7 have lasted 7 years and counting.

2006 (16 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Reggie Bush......... 2011* 6y
1 Laurence Maroney 2010 5y
1 Joseph Addai........ 2011* 6y
2 LenDale White...... 2009 4y
2 M. Jones-Drew...... 2011* 6y
3 Brian Calhoun....... 2007 2y
3 Jerious Norwood... 2011* 6y
4 Leon Washington.. 2011* 6y
4 P.J. Daniels........... 2007 2y
5 Jerome Harrison... 2011* 6y
5 David Kirtman....... 2008 3y
6 Wali Lundy............ 2006 1y
6 J.D. Runnels......... 2006 1y
7 Justin Hamilton..... 2008 3y
7 Cedric Humes....... Cut
7 Quinton Ganther... 2010 5y

(AVGY = 3.88)

The 2006 draft saw, 3) 1st, 2) 2nd, 2) 3rd, 2) 4th, 2) 5th, 2) 6th, & 3) 7th round players selected.

Of these 16 selections, 1 was cut, 2 lasted 1 year, 2) 2y, 2) 3y, 1) 4y, 2) 5y, & 6 have lasted 6 years and counting.

2007 (21 picks) Round selected, Name, and the last year they played are listed below. (* = player still active last year)

1 Adrian Peterson.... 2011* 5y
1 Marshawn Lynch... 2011* 5y
2 Kenny Irons.......... Cut
2 Chris J. Henry....... 2010 4y
2 Brian Leonard....... 2011* 5y
2 Brandon Jackson.. 2011* 5y
3 Lorenzo Booker..... 2011* 5y
3 Tony Hunt............. 2008 2y
3 Garrett Wolfe........ 2010 4y
4 Michael Bush........2011* 5y
4 Antonio Pittman.... 2008 2y
4 Dwayne Wright..... 2007 1y
4 Le'Ron McClain..... 2011* 5y
5 Kolby Smith.......... 2009 3y
6 Reagan Mauia...... 2011* 5y
6 Thomas Clayton.... Cut
6 Justise Hairston.... Cut
7 DeShawn Wynn.... 2010 4y
7 Nate Ilaoa..............Cut
7 Jason Snelling...... 2011*5y
7 Kenneth Darby...... 2010 4y

(AVGY = 3.28)

The 2007 draft saw, 2) 1st, 4) 2nd, 3) 3rd, 4) 4th, 1) 5th, 3) 6th, & 4) 7th round players selected.

Of these 21 selections, 4 were cut, 1 lasted 1 year, 2) 2y, 1) 3y, 4) 4y, & 9 have lasted 5 years and counting.

I hope that you have enjoyed seeing this recent NFL draft history on the running backs. Perhaps there are some observations regarding this group that you can glean from the lists above.

Enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend, and my hat is off to all who have given their lives to protect the freedoms that we all so dearly love!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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