Ranking the top five running back prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft

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Tom E. Curran
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Curran: My top five RB prospects in the '21 NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Ya know, when I was a boy, things were different. We VALUED running backs. It was a golden age. Running backs went No. 1 overall in four out of five seasons from 1977 to 1981 (Ricky Bell, Earl Campbell, Billy Sims and George Rogers). And the best back of them all, Herschel Walker, never got drafted by the NFL, instead going to the USFL in 1982. Now, a running back hasn’t gone first overall since 1995 (Ki-Jana Carter).

The first back taken last season was Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He went 32nd to the Chiefs. In 2019, Saquon Barkley was the second overall pick. Barkley, who’s played 31 of a possible 48 games, illustrates the risk-reward of using an early pick on the position. Backs get hurt. And less ballyhooed backs are often just as productive as the high-profile ones. 

With all that in mind, here are some of the best backs in the 2021 draft crop.

Click here for the top five 2021 NFL Draft RB prospects