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Factoid

1st-round backs

NFC game features running backs picked in first round

San Francisco is playing Detroit in the NFC Championship, assuring that a first-round running back will be represented in the Super Bowl. That’s notable, with it becoming a devalued position.

Christian McCaffrey was the 8th pick of the 2017 draft, while the Lions selected Jahmyr Gibbs 12th in the draft last April. Both backs contribute in both the running game and as pass catchers.

The more common route nowadays if for teams to fill the running back position with cheaper alternatives. On the AFC side, Isiah Pacheco was a 7th-round pick, while Gus Edwards wasn’t drafted at all. The Ravens got some explosive runs from Keaton Mitchell earlier in the year; he also wasn’t drafted.

Below see the 28 running backs who’ve run for at least 50 yards in Super Bowl games in the 32-team era (since 2002). Ten of these running backs (including Joseph Addai twice) were first-round picks, but seven of them entered the league as undrafted free agents (in bold). Eight of the players began their careers with other teams, and I’ve got them tagged with black dots.

Note that only three of the players listed below were (like McCaffrey and Gibbs) selected in the first half of the first round, but all three began with other franchises: Leonard Fournette, Thomas Jones and Marshawn Lynch. (This would also be the case with McCaffrey, should San Francisco win on Sunday.)

Note that the chart below shows only players who ran for 50 yards in Super Bowl games. Todd Gurley and Reggie Bush were both top-10 overall picks who played in Super Bowls, but neither ran for 50 yards in those games.

RUNNING BACKS: 50 RUSHING YARDS IN SUPER BOWLS
YearPlayerRdOppResultAttYdsTD
2002Michael Pittman, T.B.4Oak.W 48-21291240
2006Dominic Rhodes, Ind.FAChi.W 29-17211131
2006• Thomas Jones, Chi.1Ind.L 17-29151120
2012Frank Gore, S.F.3Balt.L 31-34191101
2019Damien Williams, K.C.FAS.F.W 31-20171041
2014• Marshawn Lynch, Sea.1N.E.L 24-28241021
2004Shaun Alexander, Sea.1Pitt.L 10-2120950
2018Sony Michel, N.E.1LARW 13-318941
2004Willie Parker, Pitt.FASea.W 21-1010931
2013• LeGarrette Blount, Phil.FAN.E.W 41-3314901
2015C.J. Anderson, Den.FACar.W 24-1023901
2026• Leonard Fournette, T.B.1K.C.W 31-916891
2000• Antowain Smith, N.E.1Car.W 32-2926831
2006Joseph Addai, Ind.1Chi.W 29-1719770
2009Joseph Addai, Ind.1N.O.L 17-3113771
2022Isiah Pacheco, K.C.7Phil.W 38-3515761
2004• Corey Dillon, N.E.2Phil.W 24-2118751
2016Devonta Freeman, Atl.4N.E.L 28-3411751
2011Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG7N.E.W 21-1717721
2021Joe Mixon, Cin.2LARL 20-2315720
2020Clyde Edwards-Helaire, K.C.1T.B.L 9-319640
2010Rashard Mendenhall, Pitt.1G.B.L 25-3114631
2020Ronald Jones, T.B.2K.C.W 31-912610
2012Ray Rice, Balt.2S.F.W 34-3120590
2021• Raheem Mostert, S.F.FAK.C.L 20-3112581
2017• Jay Ajayi, Phil.5N.E.W 41-339570
2008Willie Parker, Pitt.FAAri.W 27-2319530
2010James Starks, G.B.6Pitt.W 31-2511520

—Ian Allan

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