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Bishop Sankey is no pawn in this year’s NFL draft

By Danny O’Neil

INDIANAPOLIS – Run, don’t walk to the NFL draft.

It was the best path for Bishop Sankey after his junior season at Washington for any number of reasons.

Bishop Sankey’s predecessor, Chris Polk, was an example of the risk running backs take by returning to school. (AP)

“I felt like it was time for me to take my chances at the next level,” Sankey said.

Good. Better late than never is no way for a running back to approach the draft. Just ask Chris Polk, who could have left Washington after his junior season but chose to return in 2011 and then fell out of the draft entirely largely because of concerns about the condition of his shoulder.

That’s not to say Polk made the wrong decision. Draft position is hardly the only concern when it comes to a choice about leaving college. In fact, it shouldn’t necessarily be the most important concern.

But returning to school isn’t going to help a running back’s draft prospects, either. And for running backs, it can often hurt it given the punishment that is absorbed at that position. Sankey said Friday at the scouting combine that the concern over the physical toll of playing running back was a consideration.

“I think that may have played a small part,” Sankey said. “It wasn’t the main reason why I came out.”

Just where he will be picked is an intriguing question. Last year, not a single running back was chosen in the first round, and in fact, there were only five picked over the first two rounds of the draft.

There’s no consensus first-round pick among this year’s class of running backs, either. Sankey is considered one of the top five backs available, though a bit below Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Auburn’s Tre Mason.

Sankey is a physical, between-the-tackles runner with good lateral quickness, and is likely to be chosen in the first three rounds, which probably explains why he was right to be in a bit of a hurry to get to the NFL.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that only two running backs were chosen in the first four rounds of last year’s draft.