10 May 2013
I'm in the midst of working on a running back projection model that will run in Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, and came across this incredible (at least to me) factual nugget: From 1999 to 2013, there have been 431 college running backs who either were invited to the NFL combine or were drafted despite no combine invitation. Of those 431, 266 amassed some amount of DYAR over the course of their NFL careers.
Of those 266 running backs, only three got drafted as true* sophomores, and their names are LeSean McCoy (2009), Dion Lewis (2011), and Bryce Brown (2012, though his situation was much more complicated). You don't have to be Mike Tanier to notice that the Andy Reid-era Philadelphia Eagles were responsible for all three picks.
Obviously, McCoy's track record speaks for itself and Brown was a dynamic replacement in limited action last season, so this isn't a critique. Rather, it's simply an observation worth relaying to our readership; I have no clue (as yet) what to make of it in relation to the larger picture of projecting college backs.
*Five other running backs since 1999 have been drafted as redshirt sophomores: Willis McGahee (2003), Knowshon Moreno (2009), Ryan Williams (2011), Ronnie Hillman (2012), and Lamar Miller (2012).
13 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2014, 7:52am by mntrsse
What do you call a fifth-round rookie WR with real expectations? Tajae Sharpe, and there may not be another player like him in NFL history. Tennessee's poor history of developing wideouts has led to a rare opportunity that Sharpe can seize this season.