It was a great group of incoming rookies, with 26 running backs and wide receivers selected in the first three rounds. With the pandemic, it will be harder than usual for those players to make an impact, but there should be some impact rookies, especially at running back (where the learning curve isn't as steep and injuries are more prevalent).
I took a look at the last decade's worth of running backs drafted in the first three rounds, wondering if big college production translated to big rookie year numbers. Since 2010, there have been 82 running backs selected in the first three rounds of drafts. Of those players, 34 put up huge numbers in their final year of college -- at least 1,800 total yards. That includes six of the incoming 2020 rookies. How did the previous 28 fare in their initial seasons?
About a third of them (10) did very little -- less than 500 total yards. That includes one 2019 rookie, Darrell Henderson. It also includes a player who was having a very good rookie season until getting hurt (Dalvin Cook).
Almost as many (8) had big rookie seasons; 1,000-plus total yards. The same number finished in the top 25 (PPR) at their position that year. That's where franchise guys like Barkley, Elliott, Bell and McCaffrey show up. But note that half of that group was drafted in the first round, which tends to get you into lineups quicker. Just one first-rounder this year (Clyde Edwards-Helaire, pictured).
By that measure, you could guess that 1-2 (probably no more than 2) of those 1,800-yard college backs (Edwards-Helaire, Taylor, Dobbins, Moss, Dillon and Bowden) will finish their rookie seasons with significant numbers.
Table shows final year of college total yards and touchdowns, and then rookie year numbers (sorted by yardage).
|ROOKIE NUMBERS, BIG COLLEGE PRODUCERS (2010-PRESENT)|
|2018||1||Saquon Barkley, NYG||1903||21||1307||721||2028||15||2|
|2016||1||Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.||2027||23||1631||363||1994||16||2|
|2017||3||Kareem Hunt, K.C.||1878||11||1327||455||1782||11||4|
|2012||1||Trent Richardson, Clev.||2017||24||950||367||1317||12||8|
|2013||2||LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||1960||13||860||399||1259||8||15|
|2017||1||Christian McCaffrey, Car.||1913||16||435||651||1086||7||9|
|2011||3||DeMarco Murray, Dall.||1808||20||897||183||1080||2||30|
|2015||3||David Johnson, Ariz.||2089||19||581||457||1038||13||7|
|2014||3||Tre Mason, St.L.||2179||24||765||148||913||5||30|
|2015||3||Duke Johnson, Clev.||2073||13||379||534||913||2||24|
|2017||2||Joe Mixon, Cin.||1812||16||626||287||913||4||33|
|2015||1||Melvin Gordon, S.D.||2740||32||641||192||833||0||45|
|2010||1||Ryan Mathews, S.D.||1930||19||678||145||823||7||31|
|2015||2||Ameer Abdullah, Det.||1880||22||597||183||780||3||44|
|2014||3||Terrance West, Clev.||2777||42||673||64||737||5||41|
|2013||2||Montee Ball, Den.||1902||22||559||145||704||4||43|
|2014||2||Bishop Sankey, Tenn.||2174||21||569||133||702||2||44|
|2016||2||Derrick Henry, Tenn.||2310||28||490||137||627||5||45|
|2018||1||Rashaad Penny, Sea.||2383||25||419||75||494||2||68|
|2010||2||Toby Gerhart, Minn.||2028||28||322||167||489||1||58|
|2017||2||Dalvin Cook, Minn.||2253||20||354||90||444||2||72|
|2017||3||D'Onta Foreman, Hou.||2351||15||327||83||410||2||74|
|2015||3||Tevin Coleman, Atl.||2177||15||392||14||406||1||79|
|2012||3||Ronnie Hillman, Den.||1981||20||330||62||392||1||67|
|2012||1||David Wilson, NYG||1838||10||358||34||392||5||51|
|2019||3||Darrell Henderson, LAR||2204||25||147||37||184||0||98|
|2012||2||LaMichael James, S.F.||2015||19||125||29||154||0||116|
|2011||2||Mikel Leshoure, Det.||1893||20||0||0||0||0||--|
|2020||2||Jonathan Taylor, Ind.||2255||26||?||?||?||?||?|
|2020||2||J.K. Dobbins, Balt.||2250||23||?||?||?||?||?|
|2020||2||A.J. Dillon, G.B.||1880||15||?||?||?||?||?|
|2020||1||Clyde Edwards-Helaire, K.C.||1867||17||?||?||?||?||?|
|2020||3||Lynn Bowden, L.V.||1816||14||?||?||?||?||?|
|2020||3||Zack Moss, Buff.||1804||17||?||?||?||?||?|