You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Sports

Running backs’ importance has fallen in NFL draft

It’s possible only one running back will be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft for the second straight year. That would make it only the third time that’s happened since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Just three RBs went in the opening round in 2010.

Tale a look at a breakdown by decade of running backs selected in the first round:

Continue reading below

1970s -- Average of 4.4 RBs in first round: High mark: 8 in 1971, though five of them didn’t crack 500 yards rushing for their careers.

1980s -- Average of 4.8 RBs in first round: High mark: 7 in 1982, with Darrin Nelson (7th) going ahead of Gerald Riggs (9th) and Marcus Allen (10th). There were also 7 drafted in the first round in 1987, and all of them were busts with a reasonable exception of Rod Bernstine.

1990s -- Average of 3.2 RBs in first round: High mark: 6 in 1990, with Emmitt Smith (17th) taken between Blair Thomas (2d) and Darrell Thomspon (19th).

2000s -- Average of 3.2 RBs in first round: High mark: 5 in 2000, including three with more than 9,000 yards rushing (Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Shaun Alexander). There were also 5 drafted in the first round in 2008, not including second-rounders Matt Forte and Ray Rice and third-rounder Jamaal Charles.

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week