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What's the risk in drafting a running back early?

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I'll admit it that the Jaguars need help at the running back position, but going with an early-round high risk/high reward player like injured Todd Gurley isn't worth it. Here's why.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on who you ask, the Jacksonville Jaguars either desperately need a running back this offseason, have more pressing needs, or have enough on their team to confidently move into 2015.

Personally, I have confidence in Denard Robinson to carry enough of the load to where the running game is successful, but I think an upgrade at the position would be welcome news to Blake Bortles, who definitely could have used a more consistently effective run game to lean on his rookie season.

While the Jaguars could look at free agency for a running back, I think it's highly likely the team uses that money elsewhere.

That leaves the NFL Draft, a place you're just as likely to use a first-round draft pick on Laurence Maroney as you are Adrian Peterson. If you're looking for value in a rookie running back, are you better off investing an early draft pick in a boom-or-bust prospect, or trying to find a productive guy in the later rounds?

Your typical running back taken in the first two rounds is going to rush for somewhere in the region of 2,500-5,000 yards for his career and produce even less for the team that invested that pick. Yes, he could be great -- and for first-rounders, you've got a coin flip's chance that he'll be one of the best in the league, but only for a couple of seasons.

The point of all of this is to show that projections for running backs show that a first round pick is more valuable than, on average, a very good player for 2-3 seasons. Production is so volatile, that not banking on your "bell-cow" guy.

Consistently building, tweaking, and improving your stable of running backs is actually a better philosophy than investing a pick in the first two rounds on one.