Rookie Impact: 2014 RBs
How did 2014's rookie runners stack up with past rookies? Ben Stockwell explores.
Rookie Impact: 2014 RBs
The success of the likes of the Denver Broncos in finding value in terms of production from running backs deep in the draft has, until 2015, seen the running back position become devalued in the draft over recent seasons.
What hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that rookies can be productive from Day 1, particularly with the emphasis on a committee approach ensuring they don’t have to play on three downs from the get-go.
What can recent history tell us to expect from this year’s draft class, particularly with the return of the first-round running back?
2014 Class Review
• Only two backs topped 500 snaps but 10 played in excess of 200 snaps with only Lache Seastrunk and Tyler Gaffney not seeing the field at all.
• Only two of the 10 backs to play at least 200 snaps earned a positive grade.
• Jeremy Hill led the class with a +1.4 overall grade with some consistent if rarely spectacular performances.
• The likes of Andre Williams (-7.3), Terrance West (-5.9) and Bishop Sankey (-0.5), however, failed to impress with their rookie workload.
• Highest Combined Grade: 2013 (+38.9 overall)
• Three backs (Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, Andre Ellington) earned overall grades above +10.0 with Bernard and Ellington putting in good work in the passing game to prove rookie backs can be versatile contributors.
• Most Snaps Played: 2008 (5,703 snaps)
• Four backs (Matt Forte, Steve Slaton, Kevin Smith, Chris Johnson) played more than 600 snaps with another five topping 300 snaps. Emphasizing the value of the mid rounds, the three backs taken in Round 3 played more snaps than the five backs taken in the first.
First Round Outlook
• Average Playing Time: 388 snaps
• Average Overall Grade: -1.6
• 500+ Snap Seasons: six of 17 selections
• Best Rookie Season: Adrian Peterson (2007), 469 snaps, +14.4 overall
• Worst Rookie Season: Jahvid Best (2010), 572 snaps, -13.8 overall
Mid Round (2nd and 3rd) Outlook
• Average Playing Time: 287 snaps
• Average Overall Grade: -1.4
• 500+ Snap Seasons: nine of 43 selections
• Best Rookie Season: Giovani Bernard (2013), 627 snaps, +15.6 overall
• Worst Rookie Season: Glen Coffee (2009), 232 snaps, -13.2 overall
Late Round (4th to 7th) Outlook
• Average Playing Time: 106
• Average Overall Grade: -0.8
• 500+ Snap Seasons: five of 99 selections
• Best Rookie Season: Alfred Morris (2012), 752 snaps, +13.9 overall; Andre Ellington (2013), 414 snaps, +13.9 overall
• Worst Rookie Season: Tim Hightower (2008), 494 snaps, -14.5 overall
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.