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Jonathon Brooks

Modest crop of incoming rookie backs

I haven't seen much consensus as to who the best running back in the draft is. Trey Benson and Jaylen Wright are frequently mentioned. Blake Corum has his fans. Based on what I've seen, Jonathon Brooks is intriguing (and who doesn't want yet another spelling of the name Jonathan in the NFL).

Stuck behind both Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson previously, Brooks had a breakout season for Texas last year, running for 1,139 yards and also catching 25 passes in 11 games, with 11 touchdowns. He runs with a mean streak, initiating contact and breaking tackles. At 6-0 and 216 pounds, he's bigger than some of the other backs getting attention in this class.

Brooks isn't getting a lot of talk as the first running back drafted, but I like his tape more than the other backs I've looked closely at. What hurts him is that he tore his ACL in November, a late enough injury that you wonder how much he'll even play as a rookie. Not a guy who should be on the radar in redraft leagues, probably, no matter where he gets drafted.

But in dynasty league rookie drafts, you can downplay those concerns, and I'll be doing so. Plenty of quality running backs didn't do much in their first seasons for one year or another, then went on to have strong second seasons (and more).

I took a look at all running backs drafted in the first three rounds since 2000, who had under 50 carries (for one reason or another) in their rookie seasons. How did those backs fare in Year 2?

I came up with 44 previous running backs, including one 2023 guy (Kendre Miller). Some of those guys missed their entire rookie seasons due to injury (Willis McGahee, Travis Etienne), while some were just stuck behind quality starters (James Conner, Brian Westbrook). All had 0-49 rushing attempts in their first seasons. A decent number of them came back and churned out good numbers in a year later.

Table shows those 44 backs, with the round they were drafted, the number of rushing attempts in Year 1, and their production (including PPR ranking) in Year 2. Table sorted by that ranking. About a quarter of them (10) put up top-30 production in their second seasons. Six more at least ranked in the top 40. Several others went on to have some success down the road (Deshaun Foster, LaMont Jordan and a couple of Patriots: Shane Vereen and Damien Harris).

20173James Conner, Pitt.329734971470136
20011Deuce McAllister, N.O.1613883521740168
20031Willis McGahee, Buff.0112816912971314
20081Rashard Mendenhall, Pitt.1911082611369817
20211Travis Etienne, Jac.011253161441517
20112Mikel Leshoure, Det.07982141012918
20023Brian Westbrook, Phil.466133329451320
20202A.J. Dillon, G.B.468033131116723
20182Ronald Jones, T.B.237243091033625
20031Larry Johnson, K.C.205812788591127
20102Ben Tate, Hou.0942981040432
20163Kenyan Drake, Mia.33644239883433
20153Ty Montgomery, G.B.3457348805333
20041Chris Perry, Cin.2279328607234
20193Darrell Henderson, LAR39624159783636
20001Trung Canidate, St.L.3441154595639
20022DeShaun Foster, Car.0429207636242
20081Felix Jones, Dall.30685119804343
20053Vernand Morency, Hou.46434118552250
20012LaMont Jordan, NYJ39316160476351
20113Alex Green, G.B.3464125589053
20193Damien Harris, N.E.469152743253
20112Shane Vereen, N.E.15251149400458
20182Derrius Guice, Wash.024579324369
20102Montario Hardesty, Clev.0266122388074
20033Justin Fargas, Oak.4012668194185
20022Maurice Morris, Sea.3223932271186
20203KeShawn Vaughn, T.B.2618026206290
20112Ryan Williams, Ariz.0164442080101
20163C.J. Prosise, Sea.3023871100106
20122Isaiah Pead, St.L.102178990108
20132Christine Michael, Sea.18175121870110
20073Lorenzo Booker, Mia.285311640119
20122LaMichael James, S.F.275916750124
20063Brian Calhoun, Det.73535700125
20223Tyrion Davis-Price, S.F.34210210137
20073Garrett Wolfe, Chi.31690691141
20033B.J. Askew, NYJ22312350146
20203Darrynton Evans, Tenn.14711180147
20213Trey Sermon, S.F.41190190149
20072Chris Henry, Tenn.313030167
20072Kenny Irons, Cin.00000999
20053Maurice Clarett, Den.00000999
20233Kendre Miller, N.O.41??????????

Most of the first-rounders, like McGahee and Etienne, went on to do good things. Brooks won't be selected in the first round. But most of the guys who washed out were third rounders, and I think Brooks has a chance to be drafted in the second. (A chance; I'm not predicting it.)

Regardless, he's a guy I'll be interested in in my rookie draft, especially if he does gain enough interest to be selected in the second round. Even if expectations should be modest in his rookie season.

--Andy Richardson

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