2017 NFL Draft: The Case for a Running Back

Breaking down the Chiefs' running backs and looking at some prospects

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It hasn't been the most popular position mocked to the Kansas City Chiefs at any point this offseason, but it's consistently been in there.

There are some who believe the Chiefs could add a running back with the No. 27 overall pick in the draft later this month—with names like Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, Florida State's Dalvin Cook and Tennessee's Alvin Kamara being tossed around.

With the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Charles, leaving this offseason, the idea of adding another dynamic weapon to the Chiefs' offense is enticing.

In fact, the Chiefs haven't drafted a running back since they took Knile Davis in the third round in 2014 out of Arkansas (Tyreek Hill was drafted as a receiver despite playing running back in college).

Chiefs Draft History Under John Dorsey - Running Backs

Year

Round

Pick

Player

Games

College

2013

6

204

2014

3

96

57

The Chiefs' two feature backs last year, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, combined to rush for more than 1,200 yards with four touchdowns last season.

Ware led the way with 214 carries for 921 yards and three touchdowns.

Both West and Ware joined the Chiefs as young undrafted players.

West was signed as an undrafted college free agent out of Abilene Christian in 2014, while Ware was a reserve-futures signing following the Chiefs' 2014 season. He originally came into the league as a sixth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 out of LSU.

Despite not drafting West or Ware, the Chiefs have had success drafting running backs in their history.

Here's a look at the Chiefs' successful history of selecting running backs in the draft:

Pro Bowl Running Backs Drafted by the Chiefs

Year

Rnd

Pick

Player

Pro Bowls

College

14

110

3

3

73

4

11

88

3

1

27

2

2

35

2

20

178

2

USC

2

41

1

14

375

1

17

151

1

The Chiefs signed former first-round pick C.J. Spiller to the running backs room this offseason, which adds another quality player in there to compete with some NFL experience.

Spiller has rushed for more than 3,500 yards in his career with 12 touchdowns and a 4.5 yards-per-carry average. He spent parts of last season with the New York Jets (four games) and Seattle Seahawks (two games).

Here's a current look at the Chiefs running backs:

Kansas City Chiefs - Current Running Backs

NAME

AGE

EXP

COLLEGE

Millard, Trey

25

2

Oklahoma

Ratelle, Will

24

0

North Dakota

Reaves, Darrin

23

2

Alabama-Birmingham

Sherman, Anthony

28

6

Connecticut

Spiller, C.J.

29

7

Clemson

Ware, Spencer

25

3

LSU

West, Charcandrick

25

3

Abilene Christian

Who do the experts believe are the best running backs in this draft? 

NFL Draft Experts Rank Their Top 5 Running Backs in 2017 NFL Draft

Rank

1

Leonard Fournette LSU

Leonard Fournette LSU

Leonard Fournette LSU

Leonard Fournette LSU

Leonard Fournette LSU

2

Christian McCaffrey Stanford

Dalvin Cook   Florida State

Joe Mixon Oklahoma

Dalvin Cook   Florida State

Dalvin Cook    Florida State

3

Dalvin Cook    Florida State

Christian McCaffrey Stanford

Christian McCaffrey Stanford

Christian McCaffrey Stanford

Christian McCaffrey Stanford

4

Alvin Kamara Tennessee

D'Onta Foreman Texas

Dalvin Cook    Florida State

Alvin Kamara Tennessee

Alvin Kamara Tennessee

5

Samaje Perine Oklahoma

Alvin Kamara Tennessee

Alvin Kamara Tennessee

Joe Mixon Oklahoma

Joe Mixon Oklahoma

A few of these players might already be gone by the time the Chiefs get around to picking at No. 27 overall—particularly in the case of Fournette, who is considered the elite prospect at the running back position in this draft and will most likely be gone within the first 10-15 picks.

With that said, there are still a lot of players who will be available after the first round who can make an impact early in their careers for an NFL team.

Five More Intriguing Players to Know

(Includes excerpt from NFL.com scouting report)

Pittsburgh'sJames Conner(6'1", 233 pounds)

"Conner has become one of the best stories coming out of college football the past couple of seasons, overcoming a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma to return to the field. He won the Disney Spirit Award and the ACC Brian Piccolo Award as rewards for beating cancer, but his best accomplishment was earning first-team all-conference recognition by carrying the ball 216 times for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Doctors found the issue while Conner was trying to rehabilitate a torn right MCL that forced him to miss all but the opener of the 2015 season."

Wyoming'sBrian Hill(6'1', 219 pounds)

Wyoming RB Brian Hill (6'1", 219lbs) carried the ball 349 times for 1,860 yards with 22 touchdowns last year. pic.twitter.com/ieZumM6aLp — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) April 21, 2017

"A two-year starter at Wyoming, Hill was a durable, productive workhorse for the Cowboys, rushing for 135.9 yards per game as a sophomore and 132.9 yards per game as a junior. He is at his best off tackle where he can stretch runs outside, using his speed, open-field toughness and hungry run appetite to gash defenses. However, he has a crazed run style with inconsistent tempo. There are rushers who run and runners who rush and Hill is the second of the two, not trusting his blocks or allowing plays to develop. Overall, Hill has the run toughness, play speed and consistent production that projects well to the next level, but he is undeveloped as an inside runner and needs to improve his patience and reliability on third downs to get (and stay) on the field," via CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.

Louisiana Tech'sElijah McGuire(5'10", 214 pounds)

Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuire finished his college career with three-straight 1,000-yard seasons & 42 total touchdowns. pic.twitter.com/SpkRc16COn — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) April 21, 2017

"Has decent size, speed and athleticism, but right now he's a better athlete than running back. His vision is okay, but he is simply too quick to give up on runs rather than competing at a high level. His production fell sharply this past season thanks to a foot injury, but his weaknesses transcend any injuries. He has developmental traits that could land him at the back end of a roster or on a practice squad."

South Florida'sMarlon Mack(5'11, 213 pounds)

"Scat back with decent size and blazing getaway speed. Mack has plenty of wiggle to bounce from run lane to run lane and make tacklers miss, but he has a penchant for looking to break runs way outside when the interior becomes too trafficked and he won't be able to get away with that against NFL speed. Mack is a complementary runner who can hit big runs against defenses who have been worn down, but he needs to be matched with the right scheme in order to unlock his big-play potential."

Toledo'sKareem Hunt(5'10", 216 pounds)

"Big back with plus vision and enough elusiveness to make the first defender miss. Feel for the rushing lane helps him choose the correct path between the tackles but lacks the burst to turn the 4-yard run into 14. Zone-scheme runner with serviceable hands out of the backfield. Adequate in most areas and has talent to become a backup that can step in and handle a bigger load if needed."

Why adding a running back makes sense for the Chiefs:

With all of the injuries the Chiefs sustained at the running back position last year, the thought of adding fresh legs to that room makes a lot of sense.

And there may not be a running back coach in the NFL who gets more out of his players than the Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy, who is about as animated and passionate of a coach as there is out there. There is little doubt as to how he feels about the game of football. With the franchise's all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles also departing this offseason, the opportunity is there for a player to come in and compete with Ware, West, Reeves and Spiller.

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