Originally Posted by SunTzu_22
Long story short, I would much rather invest my premium ressources in what is generally considered a premium position (CB), when history shows that I can indeed find (highly) productive players at another position widely considered to be less important (RB).
Looked up a countdown of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, and while the rankings may not be very reliable, overall in that list the breakdown was this:
7 second rounders
15 taken in the third round or later, including free agents.
What this implies, to me, is that a cornerback's ability is, perhaps more than any position, predicated on his athletic measureables. Teams can spot top corner prospects pretty easily, and then through the rest of the draft players like Richard Sherman, Asante Samuel, Brent Grimes, etc. are eventually picked up and prove themselves through their play, despite falling for various reasons.
Maybe we can look at the last 5 AP All-Pro rosters for some perspective?
RB: Adrian Peterson (7th overall), Marshawn Lynch (12th overall), Alfred Morris (173rd overall), Jamaal Charles (73rd overall)
CB: Richard Sherman (154th overall), Charles Tillman (35th overall), Tim Jennings (62nd overall), Champ Bailey (7th overall)
Not a whole lot different, really. There are a couple of premium picks at running back and a couple more from the rest of the draft field. At corner there's Champ at 7, a couple of second rounders, and a fifth rounder.
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew (60th overall), LeSean McCoy (53rd overall), Ray Rice (55th overall), Arian Foster (undrafted)
CB: Darrelle Revis (14th overall) Charles Woodsen (4th overall), Johnathan Joseph (24th overall), Carlos Rodgers (9th overall)
This year the first round was well-represented by cornerbacks, and the running back field was Arian Foster and three second-rounders.
RB: Arian Foster (undrafted), Jamaal Charles (73rd overall), Michael Turner (154th overall), Adrian Peterson (7th overall)
CB: Darrelle Revis (14th overall), Nnamdi Asomugha (31st overall), Devin McCourty (27th overall), Charles Woodson (4th overall)
RB: Chris Johnson (24th overall), Adrian Peterson (7th overall), Steven Jackson (24th overall), Ray Rice (55th overall)
CB: Charles Woodson (4th overall), Darrelle Revis (14th overall), Nnamdi Asomugha (31st overall), Asante Samuel (120th overall), Leon Hall (18th overall)
This year it looks pretty even. The top players at both positions, compared to their draft positions, are pretty even. 3 first-rounders and then a 2nd rounder in Ray Rice and a 4th rounder in Asante Samuel.
RB: Adrian Peterson (7th overall), Michel Turner (154th overall), DeAngelo Williams (27th overall), Clinton Portis (51st overall)
CB: Nnamdi Asomugha (31st overall), Cortland Finnegan (215th overall), Charles Woodson (4th overall), Antoine Winfield (23rd overall)
Again, really pretty similar.
Let's average them:
Average draft position of an All-Pro running back in the last 5 years (if a player made it more than one, their draft number is simply repeated, and an UFA is counted as 255:
Average draft position for an All-Pro Running back was 67th overall.
Average draft position for an All-Pro Cornerback was 40th overall.
So yes, there is a difference in where All-Pro players are selected
. But it's not because running backs are less important. It could very easily mean, instead, that running backs are harder to evaluate
. Look how many first round running backs have failed to pan out! If you're going to say, "Well, Alfred Morris was drafted in the 6th! I'd never draft a running back in the first round!" then tell me why Ryan Matthews has never been effective? How about Darren McFadden? Where've Jonathan Stewart and Felix Jones been hiding? How good is Rashard Mendenhall? How's Knowshon Moreno Doing? Donald Brown? Beanie Wells? Why haven't their teams simply implemented zone-blocking schemes so that they can take that easy 5 every play? I mean, they only have to make one cut! ...Right?
What all these guys have in common is that they posted big stats in college and had workout numbers that looked good enough. But playing running back in the NFL is hugely different. The linebackers are a lot faster and they hit a lot harder. A cornerback is mostly asked to stay stride for stride with the guy he's covering and make a tackle when it gets to him. You can look at a guy's hip flexibility, his speed, his quickness and ball skills, and be pretty sure he'll be a good corner. It's easier to base it off of measurables. With running backs, you kind of just have to turn them loose and see how they look once they're running through NFL traffic. You have to see how well they play when they can't just take it to the corner. Running backs are not less important than cornerbacks. It's just harder to find good ones, and it happens more often that coaches suddenly discover that they have a good one on their roster, as with Alfred Morris or Arian Foster.