Saquon Barkley sputtered on many of his carries against the Jaguars, but he also had a cool 68-yard touchdown run, helping him go over 100 yards in his debut. It was a reminder that a lot of running backs selected early in the draft tend to deliver breakout performances in their first NFL starts. And a lot of the ones that don't, never really put it together.
This century, there have been 16 running backs selected with top 10 picks. Half of them have gone over 100 yards (or close to it) in their first NFL start. The only one of those players that didn't go on to have a solid (or Hall of Fame) career was Cadillac Williams, and his was ruined by injury.
|RBS DRAFTED IN TOP 10, FIRST START (2000-PRESENT)|
|2007||7||Adrian Peterson, Minn.||103||60||163||1|
|2015||10||Todd Gurley, St.L.||146||15||161||0|
|2005||5||Cadillac Williams, T.B.||148||0||148||1|
|2018||2||Saquon Barkley, NYG||106||22||128||1|
|2001||5||LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.||113||12||125||2|
|2017||4||Leonard Fournette, Jac.||100||24||124||1|
|2006||2||Reggie Bush, N.O.||67||52||119||0|
|2000||5||Jamal Lewis, Balt.||76||22||98||0|
|2017||8||Christian McCaffrey, Car.||47||38||85||0|
|2005||2||Ronnie Brown, Mia.||57||4||61||0|
|2008||4||Darren McFadden, Oak.||46||11||57||0|
|2016||4||Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.||51||1||52||1|
|2012||3||Trent Richardson, Clev.||39||5||44||0|
|2000||7||Thomas Jones, Ariz.||16||18||34||0|
|2010||9||C.J. Spiller, Buff.||6||8||14||0|
|2005||4||Cedric Benson, Chi.||10||0||10||0|
Among the backs falling short are some players who at least stuck around in the league for a while, plus a couple who it's too soon to say on (Elliott, McCaffrey). But it's mostly guys who definitely didn't live up to expectations, guys like McFadden and Spiller. The great ones have tended to show it right away. Positive sign, I think, for Barkley.