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How draft status shafted Seahawks RB Chris Carson in ESPN position rankings

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Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

In each of the last two seasons, Seattle Seahawks starting running back Chris Carson has given the team production far in excess of what one would normally anticipate from a seventh round draft pick. Add in that Carson had not been a full time starter in college at Oklahoma State, after being benched as a freshman at Butler Community College. However, in each of the past two seasons Carson has easily eclipsed the thousand yard mark, while also adding sixteen touchdowns on the ground. In particular his ability to break tackles and his elusiveness make him extremely valuable in short yardage situations.

However, in spite of his production on the field, here are the top ten running backs in the league according to a recent poll of NFL executives conducted by ESPN, Carson didn’t even crack the top ten.

While it would certainly appear true that Le’Veon Bell received a reputation ranking, it might be more accurate to state that all the players on the list received draft status rankings. Specifically, here’s a look at where the players who made the top ten were drafted.

  • Saquon Barkley: Round 1, Pick 2
  • Christian McCaffrey: Round 1, Pick 8
  • Ezekiel Elliott: Round 1, Pick 4
  • Alvin Kamara: Round 3, Pick 67
  • Derrick Henry: Round 2, Pick 45
  • Dalvin Cook: Round 2, Pick 41
  • Nick Chubb: Round 2, Pick 35
  • Joe Mixon: Round 2, Pick 48
  • Josh Jacobs: Round 1, Pick 24
  • Le’Veon Bell: Round 2, Pick 48

Those rankings are comprised of four first rounders, five second rounders and a lone third round selection. That’s zero Day 3 selections and zero undrafted free agents, in spite of players like Carson, Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones providing quality play on the field while lacking draft status. In fact, here is a list of the top ten backs by rushing yards over the last two seasons, with their draft status included.

Top ten running backs by rushing production 2018-2019 with draft status

Rk Player Draft G GS Att Yds TD
Rk Player Draft G GS Att Yds TD
1 Ezekiel Elliott 1.4 31 31 605 2791 18
2 Derrick Henry 2.45 31 27 518 2599 28
3 Nick Chubb 2.35 32 25 490 2490 16
4 Christian McCaffrey 1.8 32 32 506 2485 22
5 Chris Carson 7.249 29 29 525 2381 16
6 Saquon Barkley 1.2 29 29 478 2310 17
7 Joe Mixon 2.48 30 28 515 2305 13
8 Todd Gurley 1.1 29 29 479 2108 29
9 Phillip Lindsay UDFA 31 24 416 2048 16
10 Marlon Mack 4.143 26 22 442 1999 17

So, in spite of top five production over the past two seasons, Carson still doesn’t get the recognition of the players who have performed similarly on the field, but who were drafted higher when entering the league. Basically, it appears these 50 front office personnel and executives may have given just as much, if not more, credit to what these players did prior to entering the NFL than to what they have done since entering the league.

This is yet another example of how draft status can have such a significant impact on a player’s career during their time in the league, even once there is more than enough film to show what a player brings to the field at the NFL level.