NFL fans are nearly a week away from the 2017 draft. Until then, though, debates will continue to rage about how the first round could unfold.
Draft experts generally view former LSU running back Leonard Fournette as a top 10 pick and the No. 1 choice in the backfield. For the pundits who still have doubts about Fournette, they may have Florida State running back Dalvin Cook ranked slightly ahead of him.
Not Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt, who on Wednesday, said ex-Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey was more valuable than Fournette. On Wednesday’s episode of “Speak For Yourself”, Klatt argued with host Jason Whitlock that McCaffrey should be the first running back off the board.
“There is just an alternate way to view running backs,” Klatt said. “The traditional way, which you (Whitlock) laid out, is the 6-foot-1, 240, can carry it 20 times.
“And there’s this alternate way, which is borne out of economic frugality. Because when you pay your quarterback $20 million a year, guess what you’ve got to find? Alternate ways to get value and production out of your skill positions.
“For that reason, Christian McCaffrey holds more value to an NFL organization with the way the NFL plays football in the modern day than does Leonard Fournette.”
Klatt also went on to argue that prototypical backs aren’t winning Super Bowls anymore, citing the last time a “rushing leader” won the NFL title was Terrell Davis and the Denver Broncos in 1998.
While Klatt’s points are worth considering, it’s not entirely accurate, depending on how one defines a “prototypical” back. Although former St. Louis Rams back Marshall Faulk was smaller at 5-foot-10 and an excellent pass-catcher, he still averaged more than 17 carries per game with the Rams from 1999-2001 and helped them appear in two Super Bowls, winning one.
More recently, Marshawn Lynch averaged 18 attempts from 2013-14 and led the Seahawks to two straight Super Bowls and won one. Sure, he never led the league in rushing either, but both seasons he gained more than 1,250 yards on the ground.
Rushing leaders from this decade such as Adrian Peterson, DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy may have failed to lead their teams to the Super Bowl, but that doesn’t necessarily mean bell-cow backs shouldn’t be valued highly. At 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds, the questions about McCaffery standing up to the NFL punishment is a legitimate concern.