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Would the Chiefs Draft a Running Back in the First Round?

Addressing the idea that "best player available" could mean just that

Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, since coming to Kansas City in 2013, has built the foundation of the team the past two seasons by following what made he and his staff so successful in Green Bay—taking the most talented player available on the draft board.

When you consider that fact, along with the skill level of the running back position in the upcoming 2015 draft, it isn't preposterous to think that Dorsey could feasibly go in that direction, even early on.

"I think there's some exceptional players in this draft at the running back position," he said at the Scouting Combine. "We met with a few of them last night over in our team room. I just can't wait to go see some of them compete as they go along in this process.

"I know the guys that we met with, we all liked those guys, but from a sheer talent level, there's some really special players in this year's draft."

The two top backs and by many accounts the two sure first rounders in this draft are Georgia's Todd Gurley and Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon.


Gurley clinched second on the Bulldogs' career yards rushing list before tearing his ACL this past season and Gordon has drawn comparisons to the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles from Mike Mayock of the NFL Network.

Both are outstanding talents, and according to the current mock drafts of analysts, both have a good chance of being available when the Chiefs select first at 18.

But with Charles, a four-time Pro Bowler, Knile Davis, who has been reliable the past two seasons, Cyrus Gray, who is returning from injury, and possibly a returning unrestricted free agent in Joe McKnight, who starred in the game against the Dolphins before getting hurt, would the Chiefs consider it?

Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen doesn't think so.

"I think if you're going to take a running back, you still don't go in round one," he said. "You might not even go in round two. Towards the end of the second round, round three. That's when you can get a guy like Duke Johnson out of Miami. That's where you can get a guy like (David) Cobb and guys like that later."

The top 10 running back prospects entering the 2015 NFL draft.

The last time that a running back was drafted by any team in the first round was in 2012, when the Cleveland Browns selected Alabama's Trent Richardson with the third overall pick.

Though it seemed like a smooth move at the time, it never panned out. The Browns swapped Richardson for the Colts' first-round pick in 2014, but Indianapolis never worked out for Richardson either, and this past season, he was inactive for the Colts in their final two playoff games.

It's that recent situation combined with a question of the longevity of the position that have made teams hesitate since then.

Kevin Seifert explored this phenomenon in an article for ESPN in April 2014.

"Overall, we see [running backs'] careers peak at age 27," he wrote. "Afterward, their rushing totals drop by 15 percent in one year, 25 percent in two and almost 40 by the time they are 30.

"Most decision-makers -- whether their background was in scouting, accounting or anything in between -- saw that trend as a bad investment. As with any business, they reserve premium contracts for projected growth in production, not a decline."

But across the board, even as far as the coaching staff, the Chiefs have stayed consistent with their take on the idea.

"Take the best you can, you stick to that," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said at the Combine. "Your players know it … If it's a quarterback, it's a quarterback. If it's a running back, it's a running back. You've got to try to stay true to that the best you can."

While there are certainly other needs for the team to address, if the Chiefs feel that the best player available when it's their turn in the first round is a running back, it doesn't seem they would hesitate.

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