Belmont Stakes

NFL Draft: Panthers trade up, make Jonathon Brooks 1st running back off the board

NFL Draft: Panthers trade up, make Jonathon Brooks 1st running back off the board

The first round of the NFL Draft was all about offensive players. And, given the ongoing narrative, it was fitting that running backs were left out of the party.

There were 23 offensive players taken in the first round on Thursday night, four more than in any other draft in the common era. And none of them were running backs.

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A running back finally heard his name called Friday. The Carolina Panthers really wanted Jonathon Brooks, because they traded up to draft him with the 46th pick.

Brooks was projected to go to the Dallas Cowboys by many, but the Panthers beat the Cowboys and everyone else to the punch. The Panthers sent the 52nd pick and two fifth-round picks to the Indianapolis Colts to move up and select Brooks.

Still, it was a long wait to hear a running back's name called. It was the second longest wait for the first running back to be drafted in the common era of the draft, according to ESPN. By now we've all heard many times about running backs are devalued in this NFL. The start of this year's draft didn't change that perception.

There's a little more to the running back drought in this year's draft than the devaluation of running backs. This wasn't a particularly good class at the position.

While there were six quarterbacks to go in the top 12, seven receivers in the first round, nine offensive linemen taken on Thursday night and a tight end too, nobody in this year's running back class was a clear first-round pick.

Brooks, from Texas, might have been a first-round consideration but he tore his ACL in November. Trey Brooks of Florida State has some skills as a runner but isn't considered a top receiver, and that's a big consideration in this NFL. Blake Corum of Michigan was a good college player but doesn't have a huge upside as an NFL prospect.

Texas Longhorns running back Jonathon Brooks was the first running back selected in the NFL Draft. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Running backs going in the first round has become more infrequent through the years, and that factored into the long wait for running backs in this year's draft. But there also wasn't a running back, like Bijan Robinson last year, forcing himself into the consideration to be a Day 1 pick.

Brooks was the top prospect, even coming off an injury. The Panthers hope he can help take some pressure off quarterback Bryce Young.


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