The Philadelphia Eagles should NOT draft a RB this year.

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Matthews (24) runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Matthews (24) runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

For a moment, I want you to set aside things like best player available (BPA) and “draft for need.” Instead, name for me the top five positions you think the Philadelphia Eagles should address in this draft…I’ll wait.


Edge rusher.

Wide Receiver.


How many of you said running back next?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say roughly 50% of you did.

How many of you would have listed running back either fourth or fifth on that list?

I’m gonna guess closer to 70%.

Guys…the Philadelphia Eagles do not have to draft a running back this year.

…hear me out.

Go back to Jeffrey Lurie’s press conference just a week ago. When discussing the Eagles’ decision to trade up for Carson Wentz, Lurie–echoing Howie Roseman’s comments from May 2016–claimed the Eagles front office “researched” the quarterback classes for, not only the 2016 NFL draft but also the projected 2017 and 2018 draft classes. Only after doing so, did the Philadelphia Eagles commit to a trade with the Titans to acquire the second overall pick in the draft. Evidently, the front office staff determined the Mitch(ell?) Trubiskys and Deshaun Watsons and Pat Mahomeses of the world did not rival Wentz’ talent and, accordingly, they made their move.

Now consider this year’s prospect class: so new…so shiny…so talent-rich in all the right places. The Eagles have obvious needs (see above). Which needs match the talent and depth of positions in this draft?

Cornerbacks? Check

Wide Receivers? Check

Defensive Lineman? Check

Running Backs? also, check…but I’m not done, dammit!

The running back class this year, while talented AND deep, is likely to be equally so in 2018. For each Leonard Fournette in 2017, there is a Nick Chubbs in 2018; for every Dalvin Cook, a Saquon Barkley.

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Running backs, as a group, tend to leave the NCAA in search of greener (read: cash money) pastures earlier than other positions. The demands of the position compared to others–say, wide receiver, for example–are far more strenuous for the body. NFL career lengths and, in turn, career earning potential, for running backs are the shortest of any position. So why work for free, right? More and more, draft prospects are learning this and leaving early: especially at running back. Todd Gurley, Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Jordan Howard, Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey, etc. The recent trend, by all accounts, is only going to hold up in 2018.

What we do not yet know is how the other position groups in the 2018 draft class will round to form. How deep will the cornerback class be next year? How about the defensive line prospects? Or the wide receivers? Tight ends?

It is entirely reasonable to think the Eagles will take the known depth at certain positions this year and address their (many) needs: leaving the running back position to 2018.

But Mike, what about the running back on the Eagles roster this year?

I don’t care.


The productivity of running backs in the NFL is, for the most part, short-lived. Get over the hump this year and don’t waste a year of a legitimate #1 running back on a roster that will not compete for anything significant in 2017. Play the game with Sproles, Smallwood, and, yes, even Ryan Mathews if you must. While he is often injured, he still produces when he does get the ball. If the Eagles have the salary space to pay him, it can’t hurt to keep him for one more year…something I’m calling “The Kelce defense.” Should he be a medical liability, there are names on the NFL scrap heap that will serve as one-year placeholders: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, DeAngelo Williams, Justin Forsett, etc. Howie lives for options like that on the market.

Next: Trio of Tailbacks to watch in 2017 NFL Draft

Just look into the future and think smart. Spend all eight draft picks on CBs, WRs, EDGE rushers, offensive lineman, linebackers, etc. I really don’t care. Just use them for positions matching this class’s talent & depth…

…because talent & depth will be there for RBs next year.