NFL teams were supposed to be shying away from lucrative investments in running backs. They were supposed to follow a path similar to the Dallas Cowboys, who built the league's best offensive line by drafting three lineman in the first round in four years (2011-14).
Guess that doesn't apply to can't-miss prospects talent like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey.
One year after a running back wasn't taken in the 2014 draft until the Titans selected Bishop Sankey at No. 54 — the second-straight year a running back wasn't drafted in the first round — business is booming for ball-carriers. Fournette and McCaffrey became the first running back pair to be taken in the top 10 since 2005.
Will the investments continue in 2018? Though the class doesn't have a Fournette or McCaffrey, there are a handful of intriguing players that could warrant high picks.
5. Justin Jackson – Northwestern
Despite rushing for 4,129 yards and 30 touchdowns in three seasons, Northwestern running back Justin Jackson remains under the radar and is never mentioned among college football's best.
The 5-foot-11, 193-pounder will be knocked for average speed and heavy college workload but there's no denying his all-around game, impact as a receiver and good-enough blocking skills. He's a solid day-two prospect who could solidify second-round status.
4. Ronald Jones II – USC
Ronald Jones II exploded during the second half of the 2016 season, rushing for 742 yards and nine touchdowns in USC's final five regular-season games.
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, is a rare big body that's very elusive in open space. He averages more than six yards per carry, can help in the passing game and is one huge season away from entering first-round consideration.
3. Derrius Guice – LSU
It didn't take long for Derrius Guice to go from "Leonard Fournette's backup" to dominating SEC running back. He had six games with at least 130 rushing yards in 2016, including two with 250 or more.
He looked miniscule compared to the 6-foot, 240-pound Fournette but has decent size (5-foot-11, 212 pounds) and is more elusive and explosive than the fourth-overall pick. Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry, ripped off a 96-yarder against Arkansas and had at least one 20-yard run in all but one 15-carry game.
2. Bo Scarbrough – Alabama
Bo Scarbrough has the size of Derrick Henry and the explosiveness of T.J. Yeldon and Mark Ingram.
After a quiet freshman year and start to the 2016 season, the 6-foot-2, 228-pound former five-star recruit found his way late last year, rushing for 454 yards and six touchdowns in Alabama's final four games. Scarbrough averaged 6.5 yards per carry, using the nation's best combination of power and speed to run over or run by defenders.
He has top-10 potential.
1. Saquon Barkley – Penn State
Nearly every year-before draft projections correctly picked Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette to be the first running back off the board in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Will it happen again with Saquon Barkley, the consensus top running back in the 2018 class?
Though Barkley reportedly ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash during winter workouts, the 5-foot-11, 223-pounder's game is not based on speed. He has incredible vision, can flourish on all three downs, is dangerous in the passing game 28 catches for 402 yards last year) and only needs more consistency to solidify his top-10 status.