What do NFL teams look for when selecting who should be their primary running back? As the professional teams start to get ready for training camps and then the preseason, this will be a question on pretty much every coach’s mind, and it will be in the thoughts of almost all serious football fans, too. Let’s take a look at the RB position, and try to figure out what makes a good running back in the NFL.
Let’s start by looking at the battle going on for the position on the New England Patriots. Last year, both of the top RBs on the team ended the season battling injury. LeGarrette Blount had an up and down season, only to end it on the IR. Dion Lewis also ended the season there. The Patriots have a huge hole in their running game, and this leaves the door wide open for the position right now. It also gives us a fair look at what factors into management’s decision.
First, you need to know that the fundamentals of the game are important. No one is going to make the starting roster on an NFL team and not have a fast 40 yard dash. Next, you need to look at the back’s ability to shake off defenders. Looking at these two factors alone, we can see that Lewis has the edge. He is fast and one of the hardest to tackle running backs in the league. Even with a weak performance last season and only playing seven games, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. His best season is 5.3, and that’s far more indicative of his talent. Blount only averaged 4.3 last year. Also, the team is strongly considering James White in this slot. White played in 14 games last year, but saw very limited action. He has been more of a backup than anything, but if the need be, the Patriots are ready to give him more playing time.
As a side note, the best average in the NFL last year was 5.6. This was accomplished by Karlos Williams of the Buffalo Bills. He only played 11 games last season, so there is likely to be a similar situation in Buffalo at RB as there is in New England. It’s also important to note that this line of thinking will likely be the same with every single team as they finalize their rosters. There will be a focus on fundamentals first, and then looking at how that player can convert their raw talent into statistics on the playing field. Yes, there’s always a chance that midseason changes will be made, but the stronger a roster is before the first game of the year, the better.
This might seem like a theoretical at best thing to look at, but it’s not. These are the factors that NFL execs and coaches look at when selecting who is going to see the most action at RB. They look at this because these are things that are the best determination factors when it comes to success. And if these are what pro coaches look at to try and predict success, they should be looked at by you if you are going to be playing fantasy football of any sort. And if you’re just a casual fan, knowing these things will help to enhance your enjoyment of the game and help you to better understand the thought processes that go on behind the scenes. In the NFL, stats are not nearly as helpful for fantasy play as they are in other leagues, like the MLB or the NBA, but they are still a good look at what a player will do on average.