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With 54th pick, Bishop Sankey becomes first running back taken in NFL draft

The stories of the demise of the running back position might have been understated, actually.

When the Atlanta Falcons didn't pick a running back with the 37th overall pick, it was officially the deepest an NFL draft had ever gone without a running back being taken, dating back to the start of the modern draft in 1967, according to ESPN. Last year was the first time since 1963 a running back didn't go in the first round. This draft made it two in a row.

And the great running back slide kept going deep into the second round. It didn't stop until pick No. 54, when the Tennessee Titans selected Washington's Bishop Sankey. The Titans needed to reload at running back after cutting Chris Johnson, but it turns out they didn't need to worry about it. They had their pick of the entire class with the 22nd pick of the second round. With the next pick the Bengals also took a running back, taking LSU's Jeremy Hill, who has been in plenty of trouble off the field.

The running back position isn't unimportant in the NFL, it's just a commodity nobody wants to invest in. Teams are using more running back committees. The short average career of a running back means no team wants to use a first-round pick on one for three or four quality years. They'd rather wait and get an Alfred Morris (sixth round, Washington, 2012) or Zac Stacy (fifth round, St. Louis, 2013) at a cheap price. That's why running backs like Ben Tate and Maurice Jones-Drew had a tough time getting signed this offseason as free agents. Teams still run the ball (although less often), but they're not going to pay a hefty price for running backs.

Maybe next year, Georgia's Todd Gurley or Alabama's T.J. Yeldon breaks the streak of no running backs in the first round. But Carlos Hyde, Bishop Sankey, Tre Mason and Ka'Deem Carey aren't bad players. They just are playing in the wrong era for running backs. Nobody wants to invest a lot of money or a high pick in them anymore.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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