It’s been a busy offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles, especially when it comes to the backfield. After a season of injuries, setbacks, and question marks, the Birds finally invested heavily at the position.
Jordan Howard was traded for, Miles Sanders was drafted, and a new era was officially started. Jay Ajayi remains a free agent and it’s likely that we’ve seen the last of Darren Sproles after a bizarre and somewhat unfitting end to an electric stint in Phialdelphia.
The recent additions have left somewhat of a cluster however. Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and last year’s team-rushing leader, Josh Adams, will all have to scrap for every last rushing attempt this offseason, with all of them standing on the edge of a Knife. But lost in that battle is a running back who brings so much intrigue…
After watching DeAndre Carter get plucked off the practice squad by the Houston Texans earlier in the year, the kick returner position was in jeopardy while Darren Sproles focused on getting fully healthy. The Eagles snagged rookie running Boston Scott from the Saints practice squad in response and it didn’t take long for him to at least make some minor tremors.
Saints fans were reportedly quite annoyed at the move, after the 5’6, 203 lbs, rookie out of Louisiana Tech took the fanbase by storm in preseason. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, scoring a touchdown and amassing 121 yards on 25 carries, seeing time at both return spots as well.
The Saints had a crowded backfield, but the anticipation around Scott was naturally high, He ended his collegiate career with 1,840 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, after breaking out for a 1,000+ yard season as a Senior. It didn’t take him long to make an impact in Philadelphia, either.
Against the Texans, Scott returned four kicks for 24.0 yards a pop. In this contest, he had a nice 21-yard return and 14-yarder which he probably should have left in the end zone. Chalk it up to a rookie mistake. Most importantly, he made no major blunders and kept the ball safe in the most important game of his career to date.
Interestingly, when you turn on the tape, Scott is far more than just an undersized kick returner. His athletic testing is eyebrow raising in itself and his stunning acceleration shows up in a big way. Scott leaps out of his cuts with authority and is as slippery as they come, bringing back memories of Darren Sproles in himself.
But unlike another running back on this team who faces the same criticism (Donnel Pumphrey), Scott embraces contact. He runs hard, lowering his pads before impact and keeping his legs churning to ensure he falls forward. Even Wendell Smallwood struggles with that at times, which brings me to my next point.
His vision is truly what sets him apart. Scott has a low center of gravity which makes changing direction and cutting on a dime that much more effective, but it’s his vision that makes it all possible. While he can get lost in the pile sometimes, Scott is patient behind his blockers and runs with great anticipation.
Nobody is saying that Scott is going to burst onto the scene and somehow carve out a role adjacent to Miles Sanders, but with the Eagles still really needing to find some reliability at the return spots, Scott has experience at both, alongside a skill set that blends what can only summarized as that of a ‘Baby Darren Sproles’ and would arguably bring more to the table than a couple of the other backs on the roster.
The Eagles wanted to see what Scott could do in their system and will now have a full offseason to work with the Louisiana Tech Product. In a backfield loaded with talent and excitement, it could be this dark horse that does more than turn heads in the months to come, potentially displacing someone like Wendell Smallwood and fighting his way to becoming the Eagles secondary return option, as well as a very handy change-of-pace back who has value as a receiver and is just a nightmare in open space.