Rookie Seasons of Running Backs Drafted in 2014
By Chris Malumphy
For the second year in a row, no running backs were selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The best performer as a rookie was second rounder Jeremy Hill of the Cincinnati Bengals. Hill gained 1,124 yards on 222 carries for a 5.1 yard average and 9 touchdowns. Hill's efforts went a long way towards helping QB Andy Dalton lead the team to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, despite throwing the fewest touchdown passes in his career. Hill looks like he'll give the Bengals the type of powerful running back that is needed to thrive in the AFC Central for years to come.
The next most productive running backs drafted in 2014 behind Hill were Tre Mason of the Rams (a third rounder who carried the ball 179 times for 765 yards, a 4.3 yard average and 4 touchdowns) and Andre Williams of the Giants (a fourth rounder with 217 carries, 721 yards, a disappointing 3.3 yard average but 7 touchdowns). The Browns got some productivity from the erratic Terrance West, a third round pick who gained 673 yards on 171 carries for a 3.9 yard average and 4 touchdowns, but Cleveland received nearly the same results, if not better, from undrafted rookie Isaiah Crowell (148 rushes, 607 yards, 4.1 yard average and 8 touchdowns). West dances in the backfield and cost the Browns dearly early in the year by failing to run forward on a critical short yardage situation. His attitude was also questioned more than once. Crowell had three fumbles. So while the Browns are looking for the silver lining in the cloud, others just see another cloudy day in Cleveland.
Jerick McKinnon racked up some yardage for the Vikings (113 carries, 538 yards, 4.8 yard average) as did Alfred Blue for the Texans (169 carries, 528 yards, but only a 3.1 yard average, with 2 touchdowns).
Bishop Sankey, selected the pick before Hill by the Titans, provided only about half the production, gaining 569 yards on 152 carries for a 3.7 yard average and 2 touchdowns. Carlos Hyde, drafted two picks after Hill by the 49ers played somewhat sparingly behind Frank Gore (who never seems to receive the recognition he deserves). Hyde gained 333 yards on 83 carries for a 4.0 yard average and 4 touchdowns. As Gore's career finally (perhaps) begins to wind down, we can expect to see much greater output from Hyde in years to come. The Bucaneers Charles Sims had an ineffective 2.8 yard average which was extremely disappointing from a high third round selection.
After one season, Jeremy Hill is the only certified success, but the Rams must also be happy with Tre Mason and Carlos Hyde will likely see more action in the future with the 49ers. For the time being though, the future appears uncertain for the rest of the running backs drafted in 2014. There was some production from the others, but no one else set the world on fire.
|Running Backs Drafted in 2014<|
|Jeremy Hill||Bengals||2||23||55||Louisiana State||Bengals||222||1124||5.1||9||61|
|Carlos Hyde||49ers||2||25||57||Ohio State||49ers||83||333||4.0||4||16|
|Charles Sims||Buccaneers||3||5||69||West Virginia||Buccaneers||66||185||2.8||1||10|
|Jerick McKinnon||Vikings||3||32||96||Georgia Southern||Vikings||113||538||4.8||0||21|
|Dri Archer||Steelers||3||33||97||Kent State||Steelers||10||40||4.0||0||2|
|Devonta Freeman||Falcons||4||3||103||Florida State||Falcons||65||248||3.8||1||9|
|Andre Williams||Giants||4||13||113||Boston College||Giants||217||721||3.3||7||30|
|Lorenzo Taliaferro||Ravens||4||38||138||Coastal Carolina||Ravens||68||292||4.3||4||17|
|Alfred Blue||Texans||6||5||181||Louisiana State||Texans||169||528||3.1||2||29|
|Marion Grice||Chargers||6||25||201||Arizona State||Cardinals||15||41||2.7||1||3|
|Storm Johnson||Jaguars||7||7||222||Central Florida||Jaguars||29||86||3.0||2||5|