The Eagles have had a very successful offseason to this point, filling a huge array of needs through free agency. There are some new faces on defense and some familiar ones returning on both sides of the ball through some wizardry from Howie Roseman, but there is one glaring hole remaining; running back. It seems almost certain that the Eagles will be plucking from this year’s draft class to fill that void, but who should the Birds be targeting?
Instead of just picking a running back in the early-mid rounds, I decided to take ten running backs commonly linked to the Eagles and watch three games of each. Throughout that time, I’d make notes on each back and then grade them using a team specific criteria, since the Birds will want a running back with strong traits in specific areas. The full 18 minute breakdown is below but if you’d rather read scout reports etc, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page where you can click through each player ranked 10-1.
The grading criteria was as follows
Speed /10: Not just how fast the player can run a 40-yard dash, but do they have more than one gear? Can the continue to accelerate after an initial burst? Do they lose momentum when changing direction?
Versatility /10: Usage and efficiency as a receiving option.
Getting to the corner /10: This is big for the Eagles considering they like their backs to run East/West. Can the back beat a linebacker to the corner and can they turn the corner and continue to pick up speed?
Power/downhill ability /10: Does the runner lower his shoulder pads before contact? Can he hit the hole assertively? Can he push the pile in short-yardage situations? Do his legs keep churning after contact?
Body control /10: Does the runner keep a low center of gravity? Can he get skinny when he hits the line of scrimmage? When making hard cuts, is he able to explode out of them and shift his weight well or does he often let his legs get away from him?
Patience/vision /10: Will the running back be patient in waiting for lanes to open, or simply run in into his blockers? Can he turn a dead play into positive yardage? Is he too patient?
Effort /10: Will the running back push through contact as opposed to taking the easy way out on the sideline? Does he run with the same level of determination in the fourth quarter as he does in the first?
Pass protection /10: Willingness and technique.
Red flags /-10: Injury concerns/character setbacks.
Let’s get into the rankings…