Why the Kansas City Chiefs Should Not Draft A Running Back Early

Chiefs Draft Running Back

The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions, but now is no time to live in the past. The NFL Draft is just a few short months away, and several analysts around the country expect the Chiefs to invest one of their early picks in a running back. While there are several talented runners in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chiefs are better off ignoring the need and drafting other positions. Running backs simply aren’t important enough to justify an early selection, and Andy Reid has a history of turning just about anyone into a successful running back.

NFL Draft: Taking A Running Back Early A Bad Choice for Kansas City Chiefs

Invest in Defense

Patrick Mahomes and the offense (deservedly) get most of the praise for the Super Bowl run, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the defense. The unit was surprisingly effective for the majority of the season, despite a relative lack of talent in the secondary. You can’t bank on the unit playing above the sum of its parts for a second straight season and Kansas City should do everything they can to improve their defensive talent.

The 2020 cornerback class has a clear CB1 in Jeffrey Okudah, but the rest of the class is completely up in the air. Considering the confusion on the board, there is a realistic chance that the Chiefs end up with someone like C.J. Henderson, A.J. Terrell, Jeff Gladney, or Kristian Fulton. Grabbing a player like this would immediately improve Kansas City’s coverage unit, and recent data studies show that coverage is the most important part of building a defense.

Even if all those cornerbacks are off the board when the Chiefs are on the clock, there should be plenty of good linebackers available. Isaiah Simmons is going to be a top-10 pick, but guys like Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen have a good chance of being around at 32. No matter who the Chiefs pick, they’ll have more of an impact than any possible running back.

Running Backs Don’t Matter – Don’t Draft Them Early

Recent analytics studies have proven that running backs simply do not move the needle in today’s NFL. Passing is more efficient than rushing, and you don’t need to run the ball in order to effectively use play action. Based on all measurable data, successful teams should be doing everything they can to build around the passing game.

Even if you feel that the running game is more important than data can measure, the actual running back doesn’t have much to do with the actual success of the rushing attack. In order for a run to be successful, you need to have strong blocking up front and a smart playcaller. Without that, it’s hard for any running play to work out. The running back market is currently saturated with players capable of reading a rushing lane and following blocks, so investing a top resource in a replaceable position like that just doesn’t make sense.

If anyone should know about the replaceability of the position, it’s the Chiefs. Back in 2018, Kansas City released star running back Kareem Hunt after video surfaced of him kicking a woman at a casino. With Hunt out of the picture, Kansas City turned to Damien Williams, an unremarkable talent that couldn’t even make it on the Miami Dolphins. Despite the obvious drop off in talent, Williams was still able to do just about everything that Hunt could. Even in the passing game, most of the production came from Reid’s scheme rather than the talent of the running back.

You Have Patrick Mahomes

Even if running backs did matter, the Kansas City Chiefs shouldn’t be trying to win by running the ball. Patrick Mahomes is the best young quarterback in football and is easily the most dangerous weapon in the game. Kansas City should be throwing the ball as much as humanly possible, and that’s what they did in 2019. The Chiefs had the highest early-down passing rate in the league, and it led to a Super Bowl.

Investing a high pick in a running back means that he’ll be a featured part of the offense. Featuring him in the offense means that the running back will get more touches which, in turn, will take the ball out of Mahomes’ hands. Ironically enough, getting a great talent at running back could actually make the offense worse. The Chiefs should invest in defense early and draft a guy like A.J. Dillon in the fourth round.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images