The phrase ‘QB factory’ excited a lot of Eagles fans this offseason and understandably so. But while the focus on building a shiny line of signal-callers may be a new one for the coaching staff, the team are currently reaping the rewards from a conveyor belt that has been spinning a little longer – that of Eagles running backs.
Since the inception of the Doug Pederson era, the Eagles have found tremendous value at the running back position by utilizing undrafted free agency and practice squads. Duce Staley’s coaching ability is worthy of all the praise in the world and this may mark the fourth year in a row where an undrafted free agent not only cracks the roster, but makes a significant impact.
If you’ve forgotten some of the previous products to come off the belt, here’s a quick refresher:
An undrafted free agent in 2017, Corey Clement’s iconic Super Bowl 52 performance will forever be etched in stone. Injuries have hampered his career since, but it certainly seems as though he’s pushing back in the right direction and is a shoo-in to win the RB3 role. To date, Clement has 580 rushing yards, and 315 through the air, accounting for 8 total touchdowns.
A lot of people are quick to forget that Josh Adams actually led the Eagles in rushing in 2018 – amassing 511 yards and averaging 4.3 yards per carry after an injury-plagued backfield fell to pieces. Now a New York Jet, Adams was no stranger to the injury bug as an Eagle and may not find a starting role for quite some time so long as Le’Veon Bell is in the picture. However, his north-south running style was pivotal in pushing the Eagles to a second consecutive playoff berth.
Few people were as excited as I when I heard that the Eagles had poached Louisiana Tech’s Boston Scott from the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints.
Scott, who is built in the same vein as Darren Sproles, will enter 2020 as the RB2 behind Miles Sanders after amassing 245 yards on the ground, 204 through the air, and 5 touchdowns last year. At 5’6, 203 lbs, Scott can stretch the field with ease and proved to do exactly that when depth wore thin.
Against the Giants in week 17, Scott recorded 3 rushing touchdowns as well as 138 total scrimmage yards. Scott was the latest practice squad product who burst into the scene in truly explosive fashion. The question is, who’s next?
With only 215 college carries under his belt and lacking a comprehensive collection of tape and a poor combine performance, the son of infamous boxer Evander Holyfield signed with the Panthers as a UDFA last year, where he turned many heads. Across four games, Holyfield averaged 4.8 yards per carry, tallying 79 yards on 19 attempts. He even caught 6 passes, which is more than he caught in his entire final season as a Georgia Bulldog.
The Eagles were quick to snap him up after he fell through the cracks and without addressing the loss of Jordan Howard. In Training Camp, he’s shown a level of versatility that can only be commended as it’s not something commonly attributed to the 5’11, 215 lbs running back.
As things stand, Holyfield is the gatekeeper for the RB4 spot behind Clement, bringing that bruising style of attack between the tackles. The Eagles typically keep four running backs on their roster and Holyfield’s presence would give the Eagles that thumper they’re currently missing.
If Holyfield doesn’t make the cut. it’s likely because this man does. At 5’6, 163 lbs, Killins has been a surprise standout this Summer and a man who believes he’s the fastest player on the Eagles roster. If there’s one thing the team covet this year, it’s blazing speed. Killins and his 4.39 40-yard-dash time are in good stead, with that in mind.
He tallied 629 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 120 receiving yards in 2019 to go with 451 return yards and a return touchdown.
During his collegiate career, Killins tallied a total of 6,807 all-purpose yards while averaging an eyebrow-raising 6 yards per rush, 12.8 yards per catch, and 21.8 yards on kickoff returns.
Killins may well be the most exciting back of the group, but brings a lot of the same skills to the table as Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, but with far more zip and a lot less polish. He’s lightning in the bottle and at the very least, should have a place on the practice squad after shining in the Sun at the NovaCare Complex, with the ceiling of being used in one of those ‘flex’ spots throughout the season where he can garner some NFL experience depending on matchup and injuries.
Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire