What’s the value of an NFL running back these days?

Running backs used to be the stars – or at least co-stars with quarterbacks – in the NFL.

Remember Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, John Brockington, Franco Harris and others? It seems that every good team in the 1970s and early 1980s had a star running back. Not so anymore.

As talk in Cleveland ahead of the 2012 NFL Draft began to focus on potentially picking Alabama running back Trent Richardson high in the first round, we took a look at today’s value of an NFL running back, researching records going back to the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

What we found is that running backs are less likely to go high in the draft, and good teams have become far less likely to depend on the run. Read our findings and associated graphics.

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