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David Johnson, Todd Gurley, and the Case for Drafting a Running Back First Overall

In a world where wide receivers rule, Bonnema digs through the data to see if drafting a running back first overall is still a viable strategy for 2016.

Congratulations! You landed the first overall draft pick. You literally get to choose any player you want!

Back in the day, this was a luxury pick because it meant having first crack at the best running backs in football. But things have changed. Running backs are no longer viewed as the dominate, must-have, can’t-go-wrong league-winners they once were. Instead, they’ve become liabilities, and many of us prefer to go with safer, no-brainer picks with higher upside—i.e. wide receivers.

After what happened last year it’s not all that surprising. The running back apocalypse that was 2015 makes even the most hardcore early-round RB truthers nervous. But drafting one first overall (or second or third overall), though not for the fainthearted, is still a viable strategy this season, even in the current pass-happy landscape that is the NFL.

A Balanced Diet Makes For Stronger Rosters

Before diving straight in, let’s have a quick word about overall draft strategy. Upside Down Drafting, Do the Opposite, Zero RB, whatever you want to call it, is the new trend. Actually, trend isn’t the right word because that suggests it’s temporary. More like, it’s the new norm.