PFF: Eagles’ RB Miles Sanders a Top-25 Running Back
The Philadelphia Eagles selected Miles Sanders in the second-round of the 2019 NFL draft, looking to find a running back that could be a multi-dimensional threat in both the run game and passing game.
We may never have seen what he could do as the lead back had it not been for injury to Jordan Howard last season. But when Howard went down, Sanders stepped in and showed what he could do in impressive fashion, becoming one of just seven rookies in league history to account for 800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards.
While Howard was having as fine season, Sanders added another dimension to the offense, prompting the Eagles to make Sanders the every-down back in 2020. Sanders is now No. 1 on the depth chart, with Boston Scott right behind along with a intriguing set of young backs.
According to Pro Football Focus, Sanders is the 23rd-best back in the NFL. But now the starter in Philadelphia he has a chance to prove he belongs higher up that ranking board.
Sanders did a lot of exciting things as a receiver out of the backfield in 2019, which was much-needed in an Eagles' offense that lacked receiving threats toward the end of the season. He caught 50 passes and averaged 10.2 yards per reception, which ranked second among 19 running backs with at least 50 targets. That's why he comes in on this list of the top 25 running backs in the NFL heading into next season.
The move to the Eagles lead back role seemed to bring out the best in Sanders, as he thrived with more touches, playing 72 percent of the team's snaps in the second half of the 2019 season.
This year, Sanders should see even more time, as Eagles head coach Doug Pederson indicated that the second-year running back would be his main ball carrier in 2020.
However, the reason that he's lower on this list than some may think he should be is that the rushing grade just wasn't there this past season. Despite what his 4.6 yards per carry would suggest, Sanders earned just a 59.5 rushing grade on the season. It speaks to the idea that his success on the ground was more a product of the PFF's highest-graded run-blocking offensive line in 2019 than it was his play as a runner. Sanders is a former five-star recruit — a natural athlete with the requisite burst, explosiveness and agility needed to be a high-level NFL runner. I'd expect the grade (and his ranking) to rise in 2020 with fewer fumbles as long as his vision continues to improve.
Inside the NFC East PFF put Sanders at 23rd, with Ezekiel Elliot coming in at No. 6 and Saquon Barkley at No. 4. No Washington back made the list.