The Philadelphia Eagles are one of a handful of teams that are expected to be in the running back market this off-season. Coming off a very disappointing season on the ground in 2018, they are determined to improve the position.
There are various routes the Eagles could go for their backfield situation. Philadelphia has some players already on the roster that could man the position again, there are multiple free agent options as well as some young Draft prospects that are eager to begin their NFL career. Below I go through the pool of options the Eagles have presented to them this off-season.
Outside of Blount departing to Detroit, the Eagles have maintained the same group of backs for the past two seasons. Despite seeing great success in the 2017-18 Super Bowl run, they took a huge step back this past season, finishing 28th in total yards on the ground at a 3.9 YPC rate.
Jay Ajayi was off to a decent start before tearing his ACL in week 5. The 25yr old is definitely talented enough to be a premier back but worries about the health of his knees was a topic of discussion even before the ACL tear. With him up for a new contract this off-season, the Eagles may look another direction unless the two parties could come to agreement on a short term deal. Corey Clement, who also went out with a season ending injury, struggled heavily during his 11 games of action this past season. He looks to be more of a situational back and pass catcher out of the backfield which is still quite valuable in a Doug Pederson ran offense.
For the most part, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood carried the load in the postseason. Sproles, who turns 36yrs old this summer, is figured to retire while Smallwood is effective enough to secure a backup position on the roster.
Josh Adams was the story of the season in the Eagles backfield though. He certainly proved his worth as a UDFA, leading Philadelphia in rushing with 500+ yards on the ground. Oddly enough, Pederson didn’t incorporate Adams into the postseason game plan. He’ll most likely be back next season and will be in the mix to start if the same group of backs return.
Believe it or not, there’s an abundance of talented running backs on the Free Agent market this year but the headliner of the class is LeVeon Bell, who held out all of the 2018 season to secure a big contract and avoid injury. Bell would be an ideal fit in a Pederson led offense but the 26yr old is expected to become the highest paid back in the league. Philadelphia may find a way to make room for him but it’s unlikely with multiple other needs on the roster. Never count out Howie, though.
A cheaper option would include Saints RB Mark Ingram, who could certainly produce top 15 back numbers in a system that figures to be a committee. Ingram has shared the backfield with Alvin Kamara the past few seasons and still tallied multiple 1,000 yard seasons.
Telvin Coleman, Adrian Peterson, and Latavius Murray round out the rest of the top options. Coleman would be an intriguing fit considering his youth and dual threat ability in the backfield. He would possibly be a long-term resolution for an Eagles franchise that seems to switch their premier back every season since the departure of Shady McCoy.
The 2019 NFL Draft Class isn’t one of the strongest for the running back position but still holds a lot of talent. Despite being a backup for the entirety of his collegiate career, Josh Jacobs figures to be the top back taken in the class. He possesses the ability on both the ground and through the air to be a premier back in the league. David Montgomery out of Iowa State is another headliner. Just like Jacobs, he could produce in the pass game as well. His shiftiness in open space is eye opening and allows him to break off some big plays.
Guys like Damien Harris, Benny Snell, Devin Singletary, and Elijah Holyfield are the other tier of backs in this class that could be had in the mid rounds. Snell was a record breaking back out of Kentucky while Holyfield produced a 1,000 yard season at Georgia in his first season of starting, a school that has produced some premier NFL backs as of late.
Rodney Anderson could be an interesting late round option. The Oklahoma back has dealt with multiple injuries over his collegiate career including a broken leg, fractured vertebrate and etc. Although the injury risk is evident, Anderson is still a 1st round talent when healthy. He rushed for 1161 yards and 13 touchdowns in his only full season.
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Jordan is the founder of Sports Are Philly and a graduate of Misericordia University.
You can follow him on Twitter @darealjlaw.