How much value does an elite running back like Maurice Jones-Drew really present? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Former-Jaguars.com senior editor, Vic Ketchman, used to teach fundamental philosophies of football in his daily "Ask Vic" column. It was something I read every day and mantras like "The quarterback must go down and the quarterback must go down hard" and "players not plays" are things that very much shaped the way I view the game.
I think even Vic, though, would have to admit that his philosophy of "run the ball, stop the run" has become a lesson of the past.
In 2011, Maurice Jones-Drew became the third consecutive running back to finish the season with an NFL rushing title on a team without a winning record or a chance to play in the playoffs. In fact, take a second and think about the NFL's best running backs and how many of those players are on teams selecting in the top 10 of the NFL Draft on Thursday. Jones-Drew's Jaguars, Adrian Peterson's Vikings and Steven Jackson's Rams all had terrible seasons despite having an elite running back.
Alternatively, take a second and think of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Drew Brees all led their respective teams to division championships while the Colts went from Goliath to David with the loss of Peyton Manning due to injury.
The Jaguars had the NFL's leading rusher yet won just five games. Why? Because their passing game was terrible. They now head into the 2012 NFL Draft with their two biggest needs revolving around the passing game. They need receivers to help them be able to pass the ball and they need defensive ends to help them be able to stop the pass.
Running is certainly not extinct in the NFL, but it might be fair to consider it endangered. It's role now is nothing more than to keep a team honest enough to allow passing to keep on working.
So would I take Trent Richardson at pick seven if I was the Jaguars and he became available? Nope. I would try to avoid taking a running back in the first round even if it was pick 27.
There are certain positions in the draft that are not considered premiums and the values for those positions drops. Interior offensive lineman, safeties and special teams specialists come to mind. It has reached the point in the NFL when the running back position is about to join their ranks. Sorry Vic.