NFL Combine preview: Running backs that Eagles fans should watch

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The NFL Combine finally starts this week. It’s been a long offseason, hasn’t it?

The running backs take the stage on Friday, February 28th, and Eagles fans should be paying close attention.

Why? Well, because there are currently only two running backs on the roster who saw any snaps in 2019: Sanders and Scott.

Corey Clement is a restricted free agent and is coming off a shoulder injury that kept him out all but four games. In those four games, he saw three snaps on offense and 59 on special teams.

Jordan Howard is a free agent and is most likely going to find a more lucrative, and starting, job elsewhere.

Darren Sproles has retired. The only other running back on the roster is Elijah Holyfield.

Prior to Howard getting hurt, it was a true three running back rotation between Howard, Sanders, and Sproles/Scott. After Howard went down, it turned to the Miles Sanders and Boston Scott show, with some Jay Ajayi sprinkled in.

Doug Pederson loves his three running back rotations and, if the Eagles don’t address the running back depth in free agency, you can bet that he will want a running back drafted. Don’t expect a day one or day two pick on the position, but day three could lead to some gems being found. Here are some day three prospects to watch this week.

*Measurements are from Combine results on 2/25/2020

Lamical Perine

What’s the best compliment to Sanders’ and Scott’s elusiveness? Power.

That’s what you’re getting in Lamical Perine.

Watch as he drags defenders:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1218562979551236096

His balance off contact is tremendous and shows it often:

He’s aggressive in pass protecting and holds his own in that regard. He knows what he’s good at (inside runs) and doesn’t really look to extend his runs by bouncing outside. He’s also, as you saw in the video, very reliable in the passing game. Something very valuable in Doug Pederson’s offense.

Height: 5’10 3/4″

Weight: 216 lbs

A.J. Dillon

Want to talk about power? How about a human bowling ball?

A.J. Dillon is a sledgehammer in the running game. Watch some film on him below:

As much as Doug loves his 4th and 1 plays, Dillon is the perfect fit for that. Once he lowers his shoulder, he’s tough to bring down. He also has pretty good balance for a guy his size:

The main concern here is his agility and his receiving ability. He doesn’t have enough lateral quickness to bounce it outside, but he won’t be asked to do that in this offense.

He also had very limited reps in the passing game, catching 21 passes total in his three years. However, Jordan Howard came to the Eagles with very limited pass-catching experience and still made it work, before getting hurt.

Imagine Sanders and Scott wearing out defensive lines with their speed and then Dillon comes in to truck inside? Vice versa? The Eagles rushing attack could have an Earth (Dillon), Wind (Scott), and Fire (Sanders) trio to destroy defenses for a long, long time.

Height: 6’0 3/8″

Weight: 247 lb

Antonio Gibson

He’s not at the combine as a running back, he’s there as a wide receiver, but Gibson profiles as an NFL running back once drafted.

Being that he spent a lot of time at wide receiver in college, he doesn’t have a lot of reps being trampled by tacklers. Very good outlook for NFL purposes.

He had 38 receptions for 735 yards and 33 rushes for 369 yards, great all-round production.

He’s been compared to Percy Harvin, Kalen Ballage, Ty Montgomery, and David Johnson. Pretty all over the place. He has the skills to thrive in an offense like Doug Pederson’s. You can get him out in the slot while still deploying Miles Sanders in the backfield. You can deploy him in the backfield and get him out for a screen. He’s a multi-skilled player and can be a complementary Swiss army knife for the Eagles offense.

He also returned 23 kickoffs last season for a 28.0 yards per return. Another asset needed for the Eagles.

https://twitter.com/_SteveFrederick/status/1218549858719674368?s=20

Height: 6’0 3/8″

Weight: 228 lb

Rico Dowdle

The Draft Network’s Trevor Sikkema’s “late round steal“, Rico Dowdle runs with power.

The thing with Dowdle is his health:

Before missing two games with a knee injury, he was averaging 5.86 yards per carry. After he came back, he averaged 1.46.

He played in the East-West Shrine Bowl on January 18th and had six carries for 50 yards. This week will be a big week for him to prove his health.

He rushed for 2,167 yards in his four seasons at South Carolina and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. In his 428 carries, he never had a fumble.

Height: 5’11 1/4″”

Weight: 213 lb

Sewo Olonilua

Sewo Olonilua is a human freight train.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic highlights “freaks” each year, “Since the early 2000s, I’ve spotlighted the biggest Freaks in college football around this time of year. The premise: Showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day.”

Olonilua was one of those freaks coming into 2019.

He runs a 4.47, benches 470 lbs, cleans 475 lbs, and squats 770 lbs. He’s a monster.

He has incredible contact balance, he’s a freight train and incredibly difficult to tackle, and he can receive out of the backfield. He’s the kind of guy you want backing up a dynamic running back like Miles Sanders.

Height: 6’2 5/8″

Weight: 232 lb

Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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