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One of the best debates this NFL draft season is at running back. Three prospects have earned a legitimate chance to be the first taken at the position, and two others are compelling long shots.
D'Andre Swift (-180) is expected to be the headliner, but Jonathan Taylor (+140) and JK Dobbins (+800) could jump ahead of him if a team falls in love with their tools or collegiate production.
Could another RB shock on draft night with the right fit? Here are the odds from theScore Bet on the first back off the board:
If you're betting on talent, Swift is your guy. The Georgia running back entered college as a five-star prospect, and he showcased his versatility and smooth running style over three years with the Bulldogs, amassing 3,551 total yards and 25 touchdowns as a do-it-all back despite a somewhat limited workload.
Swift's ability to change direction is reminiscent of Vikings star Dalvin Cook and recent draftee Josh Jacobs, who was the first RB taken in 2019 when the Raiders selected him at No. 24. The value isn't great at -180, but Swift's potential as a three-down back gives him the best chance to be picked in the first round.
When you're 226 pounds and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds, you'll certainly turn heads come draft time. That's what Taylor did at the combine, which came after three consecutive 2,000-plus-yard seasons at Wisconsin, and 6,174 rushing yards with 50 touchdowns during his collegiate career.
Taylor boasts the production and tools, and he has a real shot at wowing a team with a late first- or early second-round pick. Is that enough to leapfrog Swift? The position as a whole will likely need to fall for Taylor to go first, but taking him at plus-money is the better bet than Swift at a short price.
If we were betting on which running back produces the best career, Dobbins would receive much shorter odds. Alas, an ankle injury kept the former Ohio State star from competing in the combine. Swift and Taylor then stole the show, leaving Dobbins as the odd man out.
Just turn on the tape, though, and you'll see Dobbins' rare combination of size, strength, speed, and instincts, which helped him post one of the most efficient collegiate careers in recent memory. At +800, it's worth a shot that an NFL team sees the same.
Unless the top three guys all fall to late in the second round - which is always possible at this position - it's hard to see Akers going ahead of them.
But the former Seminole possesses arguably the highest upside among running backs this year, so a team could set aside consensus projections to grab its guy, like Seattle did with Rashaad Penny a few years ago.
It won't happen. It probably shouldn't happen. But there's just something so intriguing about Edwards-Helaire, who profiles as the ultimate third-down back in today's NFL.
If a team in the second round values an exceptional situational player over a three-down guy, don't be stunned to see the LSU star off the board earlier than the others.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.