Undrafted RBs put needs in perspective

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
10:16
AM ET
No team has drafted more running backs in the first round than the Buffalo Bills, and what do they have to show for it?

They've taken a running back nine times with frustratingly inconsistent success. O.J. Simpson was transcendent. The likes of Terry Miller and Booker Moore were forgettable. Greg Bell, Ronnie Harmon, Antowain Smith, Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch merely passed through, failing to last beyond three or four seasons.

In fact, the five teams to draft the most first-round running backs -- Bills and Minnesota Vikings nine each, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions eight apiece -- have two Lombardi Trophies among them.

Why do I bring this up?

It underscores an interesting weekend item by Wall Street Journal and Pro Football Talk writer Michael David Smith. He noted six teams are led by undrafted running backs this year, most since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

Two AFC East teams are among them, including the Bills. Fred Jackson has performed well after the Bills traded Lynch (12th overall in 2007) to the Seattle Seahawks for a fourth-round draft choice and rookie C.J. Spiller (11th overall this year) has struggled.

Jackson has 851 yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns. Spiller has 281 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown.

For the New England Patriots, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have been integral contributors and fan favorites. The Patriots traded Laurence Maroney (21st overall in 2006) and a sixth-round pick to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round choice.

Green-Ellis and Woodhead have combined for 971 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns entering Monday night's game against the New York Jets.

The NFL's leading rusher, Arian Foster, wasn't drafted. The Houston Texans star has 1,230 yards and 13 touchdowns.

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