After working out multiple running back prospects prior to the draft, all indications point towards the Eagles drafting a running back this year. We don’t know exactly how high the team values that spot because they definitely have more important needs. However, it seems like they’ll look for a potential backup for LeSean McCoy.
Right now, it’s hard to gauge what type of running back they’re most interested in. They’ve looked at backs with a variety of different styles. Some have been guys built on speed, while others are built on power.
I’ve always been a fan of the Eagles having a big running back who can slam the ball up the middle when necessary. Jerome Harrison seemed to fit that kind of mold last season, but the Eagles rarely used him. Keeping that in mind, I don’t want to see the Eagles draft a bigger back if they don’t intend on using his skill set.
One of the biggest assets the Eagles probably evaluate when looking at young prospects is their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Running backs in the Eagles system have to be able to catch just as well as they can run, if not better.
I do believe the Eagles will draft a running back this year, and here are five mid-round players they could be considering.
5. Alex Green, Hawaii
Standing at 6’0″ and 225 pounds, Green is a big back the Eagles chose to bring in for a workout.
As a senior at Hawaii, Green ran the ball 146 times for 1,199 yards. Despite the strong senior campaign, Green projects as a mid or late day three player. A lot of this is because his senior year was his only impressive season at the division one level.
This makes a lot of scouts skeptical, but at the same time, he doesn’t have the same kind of wear and tear that other backs in his class do. However, many believe he’ll end up with this type of wear and tear if he doesn’t change his upright running position.
Green seems to be more of a hit or miss type prospect. Teams have to love the size he possesses, but he ran out of a spread offense in college and doesn’t have a whole lot of experience at a high level of play.
The Eagles could look at Green late in day three to add some size to their backfield.
4. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
At 5’6″ and 196 pounds, Rodgers may be small. However, he showed a lot of toughness in college and never ran the ball less than 250 times in a single season. He made the most of those carries and never failed to run for less than 1,100 yards in a season.
I can already tell that this isn’t a guy that many Eagles fans won’t be very high on. I’m weary about him myself, but I do think he presents some value. Don’t base too much of your judgment on Rodgers as a runner, because how often do the Eagles use their backup running back anyway?
Outside of running the ball, Rodgers was also successful as a receiver in college. During his final two seasons at Oregon State, he combined for 122 receptions for 809 yards and four touchdowns. He can make defenders miss and has the ability to get up the field quickly.
Also, Rodgers could be used in the return game, something the Eagles could use some help in.
Rodgers will be a day three pick, and could do some positive things for the Eagles. However, it’ll be interesting to see what the Eagles front office thinks.
3. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
Out of Kansas State, Thomas is another running back the Eagles hosted for a personal workout.
Thomas stands at 6’0″ and 230 pounds, and is one of the bigger running backs available in his class. He has no problem taking on a big workload, carrying the ball 298 times last season and 247 times the year before.
With his size and power, Thomas could be more of a complimentary back to LeSean McCoy. If the Eagles are looking for a change of pace kind of guy, Thomas definitely fits the bill. He’s not a home-run hitter when he touches the ball, but he can pound the ball hard, especially around the goal line. In two seasons at Kansas State, he scored 30 rushing touchdowns.
Thomas isn’t one dimensional and proved that he can also catch the ball. In 2009, Thomas recorded 25 receptions for 257 yards. In 2010, he had 27 catches for 171 yards.
If the Eagles are looking for more of a role player than a home-run hitter, Thomas is a guy to keep an eye on.
2. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
After a very dominating season as a senior, Hunter is still projected as just a third round selection. A weak running back class doesn’t help, but he should still be a steal for whichever team selects him.
As a senior, Hunter ran for over 100 yards in nine out of the 13 games he played in, including opening his senior year with a 257 yard performance. On the year, he ran for over 1,500 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. These were almost identical numbers to the one’s he put up his sophomore year. If Hunter hadn’t spent part of his junior year injured, he very well may have run for over 1,500 yards three consecutive seasons.
Many knock Hunter’s size because he’s only 5’7″ and 199 pounds. However, he proved that he can take on a heavy workload with success, doing so at Oklahoma State.
The Eagles held a workout with Hunter, and I’m sure they focused a lot on his pass catching ability. During his college career, Hunter only recorded 63 receptions.
Hunter is a solid runner and I think he could be successful with the Eagles, taking some carries away from LeSean McCoy when necessary.
1. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
I’ve talked about Murray multiple times now leading up to the draft and he’s still my favorite. I believe he’ll bring a similar skill set to the NFL that LeSean McCoy brought with him when he was drafted.
Like Shady, Murray could definitely afford to bulk up when he reaches the NFL, but that’s not something I’m overly concerned about. People may think he’s undersized but he ran the ball 282 times as a senior and had 71 receptions. That’s a lot of touches.
Murray has the type of play making ability to score every time he touches the football. Adding depth like Murray would make the Eagles offense even more dynamic.
As I’ve already stated, running backs in the Eagles system have to be able to catch the football out of the backfield. This is something Murray demonstrated quite well while at Oklahoma. In his junior and senior year, he had a combined 112 receptions for 1,116 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Eagles may have to draft Murray a little higher than some of the other backs but there’s no doubting the impact he could make.