KC Chiefs: Mid-round running backs who make sense in 2022 NFL Draft

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 31: James Cook #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs carries the ball in the second quarter of the game against the Michigan Wolverines in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 31: James Cook #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs carries the ball in the second quarter of the game against the Michigan Wolverines in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Kansas City Chiefs currently find themselves with a whopping eight picks in the first four rounds of this month’s NFL Draft. That is a ton of draft capital. While we’ll have to wait and see if KC actually makes all eight of those picks or if they will deal some of them for proven veteran players or to move up in the draft, there is at least the potential for them to add a lot of prospects to next year’s roster.

I am an advocate for one of those picks being used on a running back, but not all of Chiefs Kingdom agrees with that idea. If you follow me on Twitter you already know that I’m a mock draftaholic. I’ve noticed that when I post a mock that has the Chiefs taking a running back in the 3rd or 4th round, I will sometimes get comments like, “No running backs, we’re fine there and have much bigger needs.”

I wondered if these comments were a vocal minority or if a lot of Chiefs fans felt this way. I posted a Twitter poll over the weekend that asked “Would you be happy/fine with the Chiefs drafting an RB in rounds 3-4 of this year’s draft?” The results showed a definite split in fan opinion. As of my writing, this roughly 55% said they did not want the Chiefs to target a running back in that range. I’m here to tell you that 55% of fans are wrong.

The Kansas City Chiefs have Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones under contract, but would it be wise to add another running back in the draft?

First, I think some fans have the wrong view of 3rd and 4th round picks. Teams, especially good teams, shouldn’t be drafting to fill current holes in those rounds. The odds of 3rd/4th round picks walking in on day one and being the starter at any position are unreasonable the vast majority of the time. The best teams draft players in that range that have the potential to become starters in the next few years. They aren’t thinking about the roster today when they draft them, they’re thinking about the roster two years from now.

Yes, the Chiefs have Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones to be the primary running backs this year, but Jones is on a one-year deal and, thus far, CEH hasn’t played well enough to be deserving of a second contract.

Beyond that, running backs taken in this range have provided good value and success rate. Here is a list of just some of the running backs taken in the 3rd or 4th round over the past five drafts: Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, D’Onta Foreman, Samaje Perine, Tarik Cohen, Jamaal Williams, Darrell Henderson, David Montgomery, Devin Singletary, Damien Harris, Alexander Mattison, Tony Pollard, Nyheim Hines, Chase Edmonds, Zack Moss, Michael Carter, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Chuba Hubbard.

I believe this range represents the “sweet spot” for drafting a running back. While I was against the Chiefs using a valuable 1st round pick on a running back when they drafted Edwards-Helaire, a 3rd or 4th round pick is a different story. Because the NFL doesn’t value the running back position as much as in years past, there is still starting-level talent available in these rounds. You can land your future starter without investing an early pick or big contract dollars.

So drafting a running back in this range when they currently have two picks in both of these rounds would be a smart investment. It would potentially allow them to let Edwards-Helaire walk when his contract is up and/or keep them from having to pay Jones a bigger contract next year if he plays well in Kansas City this season.

Plus, there is still room for them to add another back that could contribute this season and there are backs that may be available in that range who could fill those needs quite nicely. So let’s look at which backs might make sense for K.C. to target in this draft class.