The Eagles surprised quite a few people with their selection of running back Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round. Several analysts and beat writers expected the Eagles to address the position with their third round pick due to a glaring need at the position, but as I stated in an article a few months ago..the Eagles could well be looking for a complimentary back as opposed to a lead rusher. In the article, I compared the attributes of both the Eagles and Chiefs 2015 committee backfields, in doing so it became clear what kind of back Doug Pederson was targeting and surprise surprise, Smallwood ticks every box.
If we first take a look back at the physical side of things to remind ourselves what a “prototypical Pederson rusher” would look like (assuming that retaining Mathews and Sproles/ deciding against drafting earlier was for this reason), we begin to see a lot of similarities between the four running backs. When you add Wendell Smallwood’s frame into the mix, it’s all too obvious as to why they drafted him.
Weight: 208 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.47
YPC (College): 6.64
Attempts (College): 238
Smallwood fits snugly in this group both in terms of his frame and his style of running..but what about the versatility side of things? It’s common knowledge that Pederson likes to utilize his backfield in more ways than one.
How does Smallwood stack up in these categories?
It almost seems too obvious to be overlooked. Smallwood is a perfect fit in Pederson’s hybrid west-coast Offense. The best part is? He’s also an established kick returner, having returned 30 punts for 541 yards in 2013. With Sproles not getting any younger, the Eagles may have found a slightly bigger engine that could..
At the small cost of a fifth round pick, the Eagles have found a back who perfectly embodies what Pederson is trying to implement in Philadelphia. Is he as dominant as Zeke? No. Is he as flashy as Henry? No. But is he the perfect compliment to a committee backfield that’s an established fullback away from turning heads in the NFL? Absolutely.