Which running backs are best equipped to handle a heavy workload in the 2019 NFL draft?
The Chicago Bears have met with more running backs than any position in the draft. This four-part series has broken down which of the backs that they have been linked fit most what they are looking for. Before the combine, the Bears mentioned a pass catcher, with lateral agility, third level plays and the ability to carry a full workload were things worth considering.
After highlighting the top pass catchers, the most agile, and the big run hitters, we now will look into which backs are most capable of handling a heavy workload. Below are the winners and losers from the previous posts.
Best Pass Catching Options: James Williams, Alexander Mattison, Mike Weber, Darrell Henderson, Trayveon Williams, Bruce Anderson
Most Elusive Options: James Williams, Darrell Henderson, Bryce Love
Third Level Winners: Miles Sanders, Darrell Henderson, Devine Ozigbo, Dexter Williams
Pass catching Red Flags: Miles Sanders, Devin Singletary, Bryce Love, Dexter Williams, Myles Gaskin, RyQuell Armstead, Josh Jacobs
Elusive Red Flags: Trayveon Williams, RyQuell Armstead, Myles Gaskin
Third Level Red Flags: Myles Gaskin, James Williams, Josh Jacobs, Alexander Mattison
% of carriers:
In college, which backs dominated their offense? Which backs did offensive coordinators consistently go back to early and often throughout games? These are the backs that the handled the highest percentage of their team’s offensive workload.
10-20%: Josh Jacobs, Mike Weber, Bruce Anderson
It is no surprise to see Josh Jacobs see the lowest percentage of work. He split time with a plethora of talent at Alabama. The same can be said with Weber at Ohio State. Anderson is easily the disappointment here, as he was not the center of the North Dakota State offense. He is starting to rack up too many overall questions to be a thought before round seven.
21-26%: Miles Sanders, James Williams, Devine Ozigbo
Sanders and Williams are not surprising, either. Sanders sat behind Saquon Barkley while Williams was featured in the passing game more than any other back. His combined passing and running game usage is near the top. Ozigbo is a bit surprising as he is a power back in the Big 10. However, Nebraska lost enough to where his lack of passing game impact took him out of games.
28-35%: Alexander Mattison, Bryce Love, RyQuell Armstead, Dexter Williams, Myles Gaskin, Darrell Henderson, Trayveon Williams
If rounding up Mattison is at 29%, and Williams at 34% rounding down, which seems to be the standard for these college backs. These backs have shown that while they were not overused in college, that they can handle heavy workloads.
37-42: Devin Singletary, Benny Snell
These backs carried their teams. Being able to handle heavy workloads is good to see on both sides. However, with Singletary you wonder about his long-term stability at his size, Snell continues to show that he was a volume accumulator rather than a true producer.
Yards Per Carry
It is one thing to consistently get the ball. It is another to take that high percentage of carries and turn it into consistent work. Who churned out the best rates of these high volume players?
Under 5.0: James Williams, Alexander Mattison
Mattison just does not have the big play in him. He has the vision to burst for 4-5 per touch, and the passing game impact to get respect but is what he is as a big play threat. James Williams has always been looked at as limited in between the tackles, as he excelled in the passing game.
5.1-5.7: Benny Snell, RyQuell Armstead, Josh Jacobs, Myles Gaskin
Snell was able to do something with those carriers, which is good to see. However, he is in a tier with some of the least impressive backs in most other categories, exemplifying how low James Williams and Mattison are in the lower tier.
5.8-6.5: Mike Weber, Miles Sanders, Devin Singletary, Bruce Anderson, Bryce Love, Dexter Williams, Trayveon Williams
This seems to be the sweet spot for yards per attempt as well. Love, Dexter, and Trayveon Williams hit the mean tier in carriers and yards per carry, showing that they can hold up in the NFL with a workload. Dexter Williams is slowly coming back to the pack after being a negative in the passing game. He is a boom-bust player in his running style and as an overall prospect. The big plays also help Trayveon Williams, who struggled to create at times, but makes up for his inconsistency with an ability to handle a heavy workload and pop big runs.
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7.1: Devine Ozigbo
Ozigbo is an impressive tier to himself over 7 yards per carry. He did not get a heavy workload but showed as a big back who could break big runs.
8.9: Darrell Henderson
Henderson is the best back in the class and it is highlighted by how far he stands away from his competition. It is not only in this category, though. Henderson has not fallen below average in any category and has been an extreme outlier in most.
We all love the underdogs and the small back disproving the odds with acts of strength. The reality is these things rarely happen. To maintain durability in the NFL for a long time, a back needs muscle on his frame to take big hits. Who are the bigger backs that Chicago has contacted?
200 and under: James Williams, Bryce Love
The early winner James Williams has shown that while he is efficient, he would be a piece of the group, not a back who gets 20 carries per game. Love is also looked at as a complementary piece.
200-210 pounds: Devin Singletary, Myles Gaskin, Trayveon Williams, Darrell Henderson, Bruce Anderson
These backs are close to having the size, and Williams, Singletary, and Henderson have shown it at a smaller level. Still, in best application these are still complimentary pieces, especially considering the limitations of Singletary, Gaskin, Williams, and Anderson.
211-220: Mike Weber, Miles Sanders, Dexter Williams, RyQuell Armstead, Josh Jacobs
These are the backs big enough to handle a bigger workload. Once again, the appeal of Sanders shows in that he has an athletic upside, limited touches and potential for a heavier NFL workload. Questions arise in how polished of a player he is.
Over 220: Devin Ozigbo, Benny Snell, Alexander Mattison
Ozigbo showed poorly as a pass catcher, and average in elusiveness. However, in showing that he can hit big plays and handle heavy workloads, he certainly has to be on the radar.
Best 3-down options: Benny Snell, Devine Ozigbo, Alexander Mattison, Dexter Williams
Red Flags: James Williams, Bryce Love