Eagles Outlook: Previewing the Battle for Backup Running Back
As the Philadelphia Eagles continue to forge ahead in an unprecedented offseason, projected position battles, such as backup running back, have taken shape. Miles Sanders is poised for a breakout sophomore campaign and Boston Scott's late-season emergence likely secured a role in 2020, but beyond that, there is much uncertainty.
While the team is expected to add a veteran running back to the mix at some point, Adam Caplan reported on the Inside the Birds podcast that the Eagles have interest in Carlos Hyde, a quartet of intriguing, in-house candidates will be vying for perhaps the final spot on the depth chart.
Clement will forever be remembered for his Super Bowl heroics, but injuries have limited the 25-year-old to 15 games over the past two seasons. When healthy, Clement has shown he can be a viable third-down option and an asset in the passing game. In fact, Clement, who caught just 29 passes in four years at Wisconsin, turned a perceived weakness into a strength at the pro level. The Glassboro, N.J. native also provides added value on special teams -- an essential trait for a deep reserve.
Barring the addition of a veteran running back prior to the start of training camp, the 5-foot-10, 220-pound runner will enter camp as the odds-on favorite to win the hotly contested final spot, but he should hardly be considered a lock.
Holyfield, who was signed to the Eagles’ active roster on New Years Eve ahead of the playoff run, will be among the more interesting players to monitor this summer.
Leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, the Georgia product garnered late-round buzz following a breakout junior campaign, but limited production coupled with poor testing numbers ultimately left Holyfield on the outside looking in once the draft came to a close.
The 5-foot-10, 215-pound runner plays with a punishing, downhill mentality and possesses outstanding contact balance when working through traffic. Holyfield also has remarkable patience at the line of scrimmage, as he often waits for his blocks to develop before accelerating through the crease. The 22-year-old is still very much a work in progress as a pass catcher, however, but Holyfield has the physical tools and upside to remain in the mix for a roster spot throughout the summer.
One of the more enticing roster hopefuls, Warren signed with Philadelphia as a undrafted free agent at the conclusion of April's draft. The Cincinnati standout amassed 2,979 all-purpose yards and 36 touchdowns over the past two seasons, electing to forego his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
Like Holyfield, Warren is a compact runner equipped to handle the heavy lifting at the next level, but also boasts nimble feet and adequate shiftiness for a power running back. Tough to bring down when he gets a full head of steam, the Bearcats' standout is known for consistently finishing his runs. Warren also has some versatility to his game, as he reeled in 51 receptions during his collegiate career.
Between his college production and innate intangibles, Warren offers a diverse skill set that figures to translate seamlessly to the pro game. The rookie's biggest challenge will be overcoming a shortened offseason, where the loss of invaluable practice reps and classroom time could prove to be costly.
Adrian Killins Jr.
The Eagles placed an emphasis on adding speed this offseason -- and they managed to sign one of the fastest players in college football in UCF's Adrian Killins Jr.
Killins, who signed as an undrafted free agent last month, rushed for 2,459 yards and 25 touchdowns, while adding 70 receptions for 864 yards and eight touchdowns in the passing game over his four-year Knights career. As a senior, Killins carried the ball 87 times for 629 yards, while averaging 79.6 all-purpose yards per game and producing 12 plays of 20 yards or more. Killins' senior showing earned him second-team All-ACC honors and an invitation to the prestigious East-West Shrine Bowl.
I had a chance to see Killins up close at the Shrine Bowl. The diminutive runner, who was listed at 5-foot-8, 164 pounds, had a fairly quiet week of practice, but exploded for seven catches for 91 yards in the game. Killins may not have heard his name called on draft weekend, but his explosive traits and special teams versatility have enabled him to compete for a highly coveted roster spot in the coming months.
Killins' game-breaking speed and elusiveness will undoubtedly make him a fascinating player to watch this summer, but his lack of size -- I understand he's now up to the high 170s -- and limited skill set will likely keep him off the roster. The rookie has traits worth developing as a utility weapon and returner, however, and could have a career similar to Dexter McCluster. If I had to guess, Killins spends 2020 on the Eagles' practice squad.