With over a month left before the 2016 NFL Draft takes place, there is a slight front-runner for the Eagles' pick at No. 8 overall: Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott. But despite Philadelphia having a big need at the position, not everyone is on board with the idea. There's been a lot of debate about whether or not taking a running back in the first round is a good idea. Those against taking a running back early on generally argue that the position is devalued and the Eagles can find a player later in the draft.
But is that really the case? Speaking with media at the NFL owners meetings in Florida, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman made an interesting comment about the running back position. Via Jeff McLane of the Inquirer:
“There’s this narrative that you can get running backs in the fifth, sixth, seventh round and undrafted free agency,” Roseman said during a morning break. “But when you look back at the last ten years of guys that are really in the top ten in rushing, those guys are high picks.
“And so, when you find a special talent at that position, that guy who can run the ball, who can pass protect, who can catch the ball out of the backfield, that’s a unique weapon.”
When it comes to Elliott, that last line by Roseman is critical. The Ohio State alumnus is heralded for his well-rounded strengths. He's not just a good rusher. He's also very good in pass protection and he's shown excellent potential as a receiver. The Eagles' abysmal offense needs about all the help it can get, and if Elliott can make big contributions in multiple phases, he can be very valuable to Philadelphia.
It's possible Roseman is just posturing here. There's always a lot of intentional misdirection leading up to the NFL Draft each year. Maybe he merely wants other teams to believe the Eagles are considering Elliott when they actually have no intention of drafting him.
While hidden agendas must always be accounted for, it's at least worth noting Roseman isn't publicly ruling out a running back in the first round.