Every year, pundits and analysts debate the value of drafting a running back in first round. The Buccaneers are the latest to enter into this forum as they are reportedly considering doing just that, according to Buccaneers staff writer/reporter Brianna Dix.
The player in question for Tampa Bay is Texas running back Bijan Robinson. Robinson is far and away the consensus top running back on the board. In three years with the Longhorns, Robinson totaled 3,410 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. While not his main mode of attack, he can hurt in the passing game as well, as evidenced by his 60 catches for 805 yards and eight touchdowns over his collegiate career.
No running backs were taken in the first round of last year’s draft, with Breece Hall being the first off the board in the second round, but two years ago, we saw two running backs taken on Day 1. Despite durability being a main cause of concern for rookie rushers, Najee Harris rewarded the Steelers with a league-leading 381 touches and a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie. Travis Etienne unfortunately had to sit out his rookie season, but his debut season with the Jaguars in 2022 was nearly as impressive as Harris’s rookie year, despite only starting 12 games.
Beyond last year, we’ve seen the Chiefs move past Clyde Edwards-Helaire in favor seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco. We’ve seen a first-team All-Pro honor for Josh Jacobs in Las Vegas. We’ve seen the rollercoasters of Saquon Barkley and Sony Michel‘s careers, as well as the disappointment of Rashaad Penny‘s. The debate continues on into 2023. There has certainly been both hits and misses with first-round running backs, but where will Robinson fall in that storyline?
Here are a few other draft rumors from around the NFC:
- The Commanders have made it clear that they believe in second-year quarterback Sam Howell to take over the starting job in 2023, leading many to believe that taking a passer on Day 1 is off the table. According to ESPN’s John Keim, though, if a strong prospect like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is still available in the second or third round, Washington may not be able to pass them up. For the first round, though, it appears that the team has done their homework on the 2023 NFL Draft’s batch of offensive linemen. Jordan Reid, also of ESPN, specifically mentions Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones as a name that has been linked to the Commanders.
- The 49ers received a healthy amount of compensatory draft picks, including three third round picks. It’s a good thing, too, because without them, San Francisco’s first 2023 draft pick wouldn’t come until late in the fifth round. Surprisingly, despite needs at both offensive line and defensive back, Matt Miller of ESPN is hearing that the 49ers have done more work studying tight ends that any other team in the league. The team has lauded the depth of this year’s draft class, and Miller notes that this is a historically great tight end class. He mentions Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker, South Dakota’s Tucker Kraft, and Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz as potential options for San Francisco at the end of Day 2 who could end up working with George Kittle in the tight end room.
- The Seahawks can go in a couple of different directions in the first round with both the No. 5 and 20 picks. They may keep their eyes on the available quarterbacks, if they fall in love with any, to sit for a year or so behind Geno Smith and Drew Lock. What Miller really sees them doing is taking advantage of a potential early run of quarterbacks to nab one of the draft’s top defensive linemen like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia’s Jalen Carter. If they don’t like any of their options at defensive line either, Miller reports that Seattle is reportedly in love with Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon.