LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013. It then seemed somewhat odd that the Eagles showed interest in RB prospects Carlos Hyde and Tre Mason, 2 of the top RBs in the recent draft class. That led me to believe the Eagles wanted to add a runner somewhere in the draft.
The Eagles traded backup Bryce Brown and then didn’t draft anyone. Instead of bolstering or improving the unit, the group weaker. Or maybe “less talented” would be a better description. No one can argue that Brown has tremendous potential. At the same time, his lack of consistency drove everyone crazy.
The Eagles did add a pair of talented UDFA runners over the weekend. And then we got more news on Thursday night.
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) May 15, 2014
Smith is a player I liked back in 2012. Here is something I wrote about him back then.
Michael Smith is a really interesting player. He split time at RB and FB. Normally that’s not a big deal, but Smith is just 5’8, 205. He doesn’t play small. There are plays when he will act as a lead blocker. And Smith has some pop. Good cut blocker. Tough guy.
Don’t think of him as some grinder, overachiever either. Smith had a great showing at the USU Pro Day. The numbers don’t come from a great source (local media), but reports say Smith ran 4.35. He also had a 40.5 VJ and 10’6″ BJ. Those are great numbers if accurate. Smith is a very interesting late round target. He can run, catch, and block. Should be an excellent STer. Reminds me of former Eagle/Charger RB Eldra Buckley, except that Buckley only ran about a 4.50. Smith has the speed to be a good role player on offense. Buckley was just an effort guy.
Smith hasn’t panned out in the NFL. He has played in one NFL game and has 3 KORs to show for that. He has yet to run the ball or catch a pass. I doubt he would come to Philly and magically become a star, but he would be a good fit for the offense and certainly has NFL athletic ability. He’s absolutely worth a look. Smith did miss the 2013 season due to an injury to a ligament in his foot. You hope he’s healthy now, but do wonder why Tampa cut him instead of seeing if he could pan out for them.
Shady McCoy is the only certainty when it comes to discussing the RB situation.
Darren Sproles came over in a trade and it will be exciting to see how the team uses him, but he will be a limited runner. He has never had more than 93 carries in a season. Sproles is a receiver, returner and then a runner.
Chris Polk started to emerge last year. By the end of the season, Polk was getting snaps as the primary backup. He is completely healthy and knows the offense. This will be his chance to really take hold of the backup spot and show that he deserves regular touches.
A 1-2-3 punch of McCoy-Polk-Sproles is just fine.
The question is what happens if McCoy gets hurt for more than a game or two. Could Polk and Sproles keep the offense going? Chip Kelly wants to run the ball. He’s not going to pull an Andy Reid and start throwing 42 passes a game. Kelly needs the backup RBs to be able to keep the offense moving on the ground. This is where Sproles is a bit awkward. You can’t count on him for more than a few carries. Polk would have to shine and it is possible another RB would get touches.
Matt Tucker is a bit of a mystery man. He looked good in the spring, but was less impressive in the preseason games. He finished with 25 carries for 89 yards. His long run was 12 yards. Tucker caught 3 passes. Tucker spent time on the practice squad and roster during the year, but didn’t get any touches. He could prove to be a good #4 RB, but needs to stay focused. Some young guys struggle with that.
As for the UDFAs, I like Henry Josey. I don’t know that I ever see him as a starter in the NFL, but he’s got the skills to be a role player.
Josey has some spring in his step. He is a N-S runner that shows pretty good vision. He is able to make one-cut and then get upfield, which is what Chip Kelly wants to see. Josey isn’t going to dance. He’s 5-8, 194, which is similar to Charlie Garner’s size. And Josey ran 4.43 at the Combine so he can deliver big plays when he gets into open space.
David Fluellen is 5-11, 224. He only runs 4.7 and you see that on his tape.
If you want to feel better about him, watch his highlights.
Fluellen is a N-S runner, which suits his body type and athleticism. At his best, he looks quick in traffic and runs to daylight. At his worst, he looks slow on the field and you wonder if NFL defenders will just eat him up.
The Eagles have a solid set of RBs. McCoy is as good as it gets, but after that things are less certain. The hope is that Polk will be at the best of his young career. That will help a lot. Can Tucker take the next step and really challenge for a roster spot? Can Josey come in and play well enough to be in the mix for a roster spot or practice squad spot? If Michael Smith signs, can he stay healthy and can he play well enough to challenge for a spot?
It is possible that the Eagles will be shopping for RB help by mid-August or it could turn out to be one of the stronger positions on the team. It really depends on how the young guys do.