Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

D. Led's breakdown of the running backs in the 2016 NFL draft

FLOWERY BRANCH -- NFL teams are throwing running backs away like used up disposable lighters. The devaluation of the position is complete.

Take the case of Alfred Morris. He rushed for nearly 5,000 yards in four seasons with the Washington club, but was shown the door in the nation's capital. He was signed to a meager two-year, $3.5 million contract by the Cowboys this offseason.

There likely won't be but one running back -- Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott -- selected in the first round of the NFL draft. The Falcons found Devonta Freeman in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and Tevin Coleman in the third round in 2014. Terron Ward was undrafted out of Oregon State last season.

By pushing down the value of the position is a passing league, NFL teams are getting bargains at the position.

Before this trend, Alabama's Derrick Henry, who helped carry the  Crimson Tide to the FBS national championship last season and joined Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson as the only backs in SEC history to post four 200-yard games in a season, would be a top-10 pick and certainly a first-rounder.

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn't think Henry is too big at 6-2 5/8 and 247 pounds.

"Chuck Muncie was pretty good," Newsome said.

Muncie was 6-3, 227 pounds and played 10 years in league from 1976 to 1984. He rushed for more than 6,700 yards and 71 touchdowns. He also had 263 catches for 2,323 yards.

This gets me to the curious case of Georgia running back Keith Marshall, who's injury-plagued career may lead to him not being drafted despite his enticing athletic measurables. It actually may be better for Marshall to not be drafted so that he can pick the right situation to earn a roster spot in the NFL.

Los Angeles' Todd Gurley and Elliott, notwithstanding, the day of the bell-cow running back in the NFL is over.

Teams in need: Jacksonville, Cleveland, Miami, San Diego, Indianapolis, Tennessee and New York Giants .

Need area for Falcons? No. The Falcons have Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward. They are set at running back.


Sunday, April 17 -- QUARTERBACKS

Rams quest for franchise quarterback behind big trade --Wentz or Goff?

D. Led’s breakdown of the Quarterbacks

A look at the top 10 Quarterbacks in the draft


D Led’s breakdown of the Running backs

A look at the top 10 Running backs chart


D. Led’s breakdown of the Wide receivers

A look at the top 10 Wide receivers

Wednesday -- TIGHT ENDS

D. Led’s breakdown of the Tight ends

A look at the top 10 tight ends


D. Led’s breakdown of the Offensive linemen

Offensive linemen chart


D. Led’s breakdown of the Defensive linemen

Defensive linemen chart

Saturday, April 23 -- LINEBACKERS

D. Led’s breakdown of the Linebackers

A look at the top 10 linebackers

Sunday, April 24 -- CORNERBACKS

D. Led’s breakdown of the cornerbacks

A look at the top 10 cornerbacks

Monday, April 25 -- SAFETIES

D. Led’s breakdown of the Safeties

A look at the top 10 Safeties

Tuesday, April 26

D. Led’s breakdown of the Specialists, kickers, punters and returners

Position by position: Specialists chart

Wednesday, April 27

Final mock draft

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.