As the NFL has evolved into a more pass-happy league, the running back position has been devalued. Teams are throwing more, so quarterbacks, wide-receivers, and tight ends are more important than ever, while running backs have become something of a non-essential luxury.
This has led to many running backs, even the most elite, to fall in the draft. Between 2011 and 2015, only five running backs were drafted in the first round, with zero being drafted in the first rounds of the 2013 and 2014 drafts.
Fortunately for all fans of ground based offense, the running back position is making a comeback. While many teams aren't pounding like they used to, young backs such as Ezekiel Elliot, Melvin Gordon, and Leonard Fournette are reviving teams' enthusiasm for the position and making it less of a taboo to draft high or spend high on a running back.
While quarterbacks still are the most important players in the NFL, we're in the midst of a running back renaissance, whether they're being used as focal points, role players to take the pressure of the QB, or hybrids switching between the ground and air on the fly. The future of running back is bright, but the new landscape will certainly be more kind to some than others.