Broncos Draft Fits: 5 Running Backs to Watch

Keep an eye on these five running backs when the Broncos go on the clock in the 2021 NFL draft.

In the NFL, the valuation of running backs is going down. Teams that have handed out big contracts to running backs in recent years have quickly come to regret it. 

This has led to tropes like “running backs don’t matter” or “use them and abuse them on the rookie deal” around the NFL. Seeing the trends, there are very few exceptions where those two maxims don’t apply. 

Translation: the Denver Broncos should be looking at running backs in the 2021 NFL draft. There are plenty of good running back prospects for Day 3 this year and Denver should definitely take one to better its running back depth. 

In the video above, I break down in-depth five of the many running back prospects that would fit the Broncos. Meantime, here's the list. 

  1. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
  2. Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
  3. C.J. Verdell, Oregon
  4. Javian Hawkins, Louisville
  5. Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech

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The NFL is trending away from drafting running backs earlier because the positional value is still low. Teams are starting to look late Day 2 (round 3) and Day 3 (rounds 4-7) to add help at running back, including the Broncos — a team that could use some depth at the position. 

This past season, Melvin Gordon — the free-agent addition (two years, $16M) — struggled early on but turned it around. Fumbles continued to be an issue this season as it has been his whole career. 

Meanwhile, Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent this offseason and his play this year was really hit-or-miss with inconsistencies. Injuries were another issue with Lindsay in 2020 as he battled a turf-toe, concussion, and knee. 

Then there is the former third-round pick Royce Freeman, who has not lived up to his draft pedigree. If the Broncos tender and keep Lindsay this year, that would mean all three running backs mentioned above will be unrestricted free agents in 2022. 

All eyes are on new GM George Paton to see if Lindsay gets RFA-tendered. If that doesn't happen, the Broncos' need for a running back becomes even more pressing and imminent. 

Don't forget to check out the video above to find out why these five running back prospects make sense for the Broncos. 

Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel and @MileHighHuddle