Four running backs were selected in the third round, and that’s a tricky area of the draft. Players selected in that area aren’t guaranteed to do much of anything. Trey Sermon and Tyrion Davis-Price, as recent examples, were picked in that round. But on the other hand, Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt were third-round picks.

To get a general lay of the land, consult the chart below. It shows the 30 running backs selected with third-round picks in the last 10 years. Of the group, 10 percent were league-winner type picks, posting top-10 stats – Kamara, Hunt and David Johnson. Three others finished with top-25 stats (using PPR scoring) at the position: Antonio Gibson, Duke Johnson and David Montgomery. And three others were at least the most productive back on their own NFL team.

Of the 30, on the other hand, 21 – 70 percent – didn’t do much at all, ranking outside the top 40 in season-long production.

Not all third-round picks, of course, are created equal. Looking back at the past guys, we had some sense of some of the rookies that were going to be good. With Kareem Hunt, for example, Spencer Ware tore his ACL in a preseason game at Seattle. At that point, it became very clear Hunt was going to be a starting running back for a good team.

With David Montgomery, the Bears had traded away Jordan Howard. It was clear Montgomery was going to be big part of their backfield, in some time-share situation with Tarik Cohen.

And with Kamara, things were jumbled (with the Saints also having Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram) but Kamara ripped off a 50-yard touchdown run in a preseason game at San Diego and had a cool 22-yard run in another. It was apparent he was a player.

With David Johnson, I don’t remember exactly how it went down. He carried 13 times for 66 yards in a preseason game, but the Cardinals had Andre Ellington coming back. Ellington was a smaller third-down type back but had put up 1,055 combined yards and 5 TDs in 12 games the previous season. Johnson began the 2015 season as a backup and then played his way into a larger role.

With Antonio Gibson, he was an odd draft pick, having great measurables but not having played much running back at Memphis. Washington didn’t have much else at the position – Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic.

2013Knile Davis, K.C.702421175572.756
2014• Tre Mason, St.L.179765161485137.330
2014Terrance West, Cle.17167311645114.741
2014Jerick McKinnon, Min.11353827135094.348
2014Charles Sims, T.B.6618519190162.573
2014Dri Archer, Pitt.1040723013.3124
2015• David Johnson, Ariz.1255813645713217.87
2015• Duke Johnson, Cle.104379615342164.324
2015• Matt Jones, Was.144490193044122.441
2015Tevin Coleman, Atl.87392214148.679
2016C.J. Prosise, Sea.3017217208161.067
2016Kenyan Drake, Mia.33179946349.573
2017• Alvin Kamara, N.O.1207288182614322.43
2017• Kareem Hunt, K.C.27213275345511297.24
2017D'Onta Foreman, Hou.78327683259.074
2017James Conner, Pitt.3214400014.4113
2018Royce Freeman, Den.13052114725103.346
2019• David Montgomery, Chi.242889251857174.424
2019• Devin Singletary, Buff.151775291944149.933
2019Alexander Mattison, Min.1004621082170.461
2019Darrell Henderson, LAR39147437022.498
2019Damien Harris, N.E.4120001.2142
2020• Antonio Gibson, Was.1707953624711206.214
2020Zack Moss, Buff.11248114955101.649
2020KeShawn Vaughn, T.B.26109534125.398
2020Darrynton Evans, Ten.1454227116.1119
2021Trey Sermon, S.F.41167326128.399
2022Rachaad White, T.B.129481502903145.135
2022Brian Robinson, Was.2057979603112.743
2022Tyrion Davis-Price, S.F.34990009.9123
2023Kendre Miller, N.O.???????
2023Tyjae Spears, Ten.???????
2023Devon Achane, Mia.???????
2023Tank Bigsby, Jac.???????

For the 2023 guy, I’m not super excited about any of them yet. I don’t see a Hunt-Kamara 10-percenter. But if form holds, one of these third-round rookies will finish with top-25 numbers. (In my gut, I don’t think that will happen, but it’s what the past numbers suggest.)

Tank Bigsby, to me, looks like a true backup. Assuming he shows up camp and plays the way they think he can, he’ll be the backup behind Travis Etienne. That one’s clearcut.

With Tyjae Spears, he’s probably also an AFC South backup. There’s been some chatter about Derrick Henry and his contract, but I don’t think Henry is going anywhere. If I’m drafting today, I’m operating under the assumption that Spears will be the No. 2 back there.

With Kendre Miller, there’s the added dimension of Alvin Kamara probably headed for a six-game suspension. But the Saints also signed Jamaal Williams in the offseason. I would think they’ll be using a one-two punch if Kamara misses some games. If Miller busts loose for a 50-yard touchdown in the preseason, that will change my thinking. For now, I see him as a modest prospect.

Devon Achane, I guess, I would consider the best of the third-round backs for now. He’s going to play. He’s small (5-8, 188) but with the speed to bust loose for big plays. And the Dolphins have a coaching staff that’s demonstrated some ability to scheme up plays. I would think they’ll be going with a committee approach at running back. They’ve got Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert and Achane, and I think they’ll all be playing a bunch.

—Ian Allan