NFL Draft Needs: Does anyone want to invest in a running back?

NFL Draft Needs: Does anyone want to invest in a running back?
NFL Draft Needs: Does anyone want to invest in a running back?

Before the NFL draft on May 8-10, we'll be looking at all the key prospects and also breaking them down by position. In our "Draft Needs" series we will also examine which teams will be in the market at each position, looking to fill their remaining roster holes.


Tennessee Titans: If you go down the list of NFL teams, almost every one is pretty well set at running back. Sure, a couple teams will add some depth for their committee, but take a look around the league: Nobody is really hurting at the position. There are many reasons the draft stock of running backs as a whole has fallen off a cliff, and that's one of them. From 1963 to 2012, a running back was taken in the first round every year. Now we're looking at the possibility of a second straight year with no running backs being takent in the first round.

The Titans are one of the few teams whose need is relatively strong. Chris Johnson was cut, leaving Shonn Greene as the top back. Greene is solid but better as part of a committee. None of the other Titans backs are capable of being a lead back either. And even though the Titans need a running back more than probably any other team, they could still get one in the middle rounds that could pull a Zac Stacy and be a contributor as a rookie. NEED LEVEL: High

Atlanta Falcons: Did we see the beginning of the end of Steven Jackson last year? He was hurt most of the year, averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and will be 31 years old by opening day. There's not much else on the roster, although Jacquizz Rodgers is a decent role player. Even if the Falcons believe Jackson can bounce back, they need to start thinking about the future. NEED LEVEL: Medium high

Cleveland Browns: The Browns did show last year that you need someone at running back. Yes, teams have figured out you don't invest much in running backs unless they're Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy, but that doesn't mean any running back can be effective. Cleveland signed Ben Tate from Houston, but they can't stop there. Tate's biggest knock is his durability, and if Tate goes down the Browns are stuck with the same set of below-average backs they had last year. If they grab a player like Auburn's Tre Mason in the second round, all of a sudden they've turned a weakness into a strength in one offseason. NEED LEVEL: Medium

Arizona Cardinals: Andre Ellington has a lot of talent but the Cardinals seem dead set against giving him more than 15 carries a game. Rashard Mendenhall retired, so unless the Cardinals want to give Ellington more carries or they think 2013 rookie Stepfan Taylor is ready for a bigger workload, they'll need a second back who can split time with Ellington. Considering teams generally like when their top two backs have different styles, so taking someone like Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, who is 230 pounds, to go with the speedy Ellington would make sense. NEED LEVEL: Medium

Indianapolis Colts: As much as the Colts are publicly in support of Trent Richardson, they have to be quite nervous that he's just never going to take that next step. Ahmad Bradshaw is back, and that's fine, but he has dealt with a lot of injuries the past few years. Donald Brown is gone, having signed with San Diego, so maybe it's time to draft some depth. NEED LEVEL: Medium

Denver Broncos: Denver likes Montee Ball well enough that they let Knowshon Moreno walk in free agency. And they should like Ball, he's a talented second-round pick from last year who was a better runner than Moreno by the end of the season. But Ronnie Hillman is next in line, and he got deep in the doghouse last year and despite having some talent hasn't yet established himself as a good NFL back. If the Broncos don't trust Hillman, they could go fishing for another back for depth in the middle rounds. NEED LEVEL: Medium

Other teams in need: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Oakland, Minnesota, Jacksonville

NFL Draft Needs series
April 18: Linebacker
April 19: Defensive line
April 20: Offensive line
April 21: Running back
April 22: Receiver/tight end
April 23: Quarterback
April 24: Defensive back
April 25: Running back

More NFL coverage:

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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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