If you were watching the NFL Draft last night, you might have been wondering where all the running backs were. It was a historically thin group, with a total of four selected by the end of Round 3. That was the fewest taken in the first three rounds since 2016, which itself was the lowest number ever. Disappointing for the key position in fantasy leagues.

Last year, for example, there were 11 running backs taken in the first three rounds, and five of those players went over 1,000 total yards or scored at least 9 touchdowns as rookies. It will be a lot harder to coax that kind of production out of this class, where the fifth player at the position won't be drafted until this afternoon.

And unfortunately, there seems to be a link between quantity and quality. There have been six other draft classes since 2000 where six or fewer running backs were drafted in the first three rounds -- 34 total running backs selected in those rounds in those years (4 in 2016, 6 in each of the other five seasons). Only a fifth (seven) of those running backs went over 1,000 total yards as rookies. Only a quarter (6-7, depending how generous you want to be) of the other 27 went on to have significant careers.

Table shows the six other draft classes with 4-6 running backs drafted in the first three rounds since 2000, sorted by total yards in their rookie seasons. I've bolded the ones I'd argue went on to have significant careers. There's some subjectivity (I included Eddie Lacy and his two good seasons, but left out a player or two that had one good year along the way), but more than twice as many misses as hits.

20161Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.Ohio State1631363199416
20132Eddie Lacy, G.B.Alabama1178257143511
20041Kevin Jones, Det.Virginia Tech113318013136
20132LeVeon Bell, Pitt.Michigan State86039912598
20132Giovani Bernard, Cin.North Carolina69551412098
20091Knowshon Moreno, Den.Georgia 94721311609
20101Jahvid Best, Det.California55548710326
20092LeSean McCoy, Phil.Pittsburgh 6373089454
20091Beanie Wells, Ariz.Ohio State 7931439367
20042Julius Jones, Dall.Notre Dame8191079267
20041Steven Jackson, St.L.Oregon State6731898624
20101Ryan Mathews, S.D.Fresno State6781458237
20132Montee Ball, Den.Wisconsin5591457044
20162Derrick Henry, Tenn.Alabama4901376275
20093Shonn Greene, NYJIowa 54005402
20102Toby Gerhart, Minn.Stanford3221674891
20042Tatum Bell, Den.Oklahoma State396804763
20091Donald Brown, Ind.Connecticut 2811694503
20101C.J. Spiller, Buff.Clemson2831574401
20163C.J. Prosise, Sea.Notre Dame1722083801
20133Knile Davis, K.C.Arkansas242753175
20093Glen Coffee, S.F.Alabama 226763021
20033Chris Brown, Tenn.Colorado 221612820
20163Kenyan Drake, Mia.Alabama179462252
20033Justin Fargas, Oak.Southern California 20322050
20042Greg Jones, Jac.Florida State162131753
20031Larry Johnson, K.C.Penn State852871
20132Christine Michael, Sea.Texas A&M790790
20041Chris Perry, Cin.Michigan133340
20033Musa Smith, Balt.Georgia 310312
20033B.J. Askew, NYJMichigan 9090
20102Ben Tate, Hou.Auburn0000
20102Montario Hardesty, Clev.Tennessee0000
20031Willis McGahee, Buff.Miami0000

As we talked about elsewhere, Travis Etienne's landing spot isn't great. The same can be said about 3rd-rounder Trey Sermon (pictured; nice offensive system in San Francisco, but it's a team that already has a whole lot of running backs under contract). Najee Harris should start in Pittsburgh, while Javonte Williams need only move past Melvin Gordon in Denver, but not a lot to get really excited about.

We'll see what the fourth round brings today; it's not as if quality backs can't come out of the remaining rounds. But definitely a disappointing total no matter how optimistic you want to be, and not a lot of great players to target in fantasy drafts.

--Andy Richardson