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PFF ranks Commanders running back among top 32 in the NFL

We are at the point of the offseason where we see positional rankings. Last week, Pro Football Focus ranked the NFL’s top 32 quarterbacks. Now, PFF has ranked the league’s top 32 running backs.

The Washington Commanders have two running backs who could be considered for such a list: Brian Robinson Jr. and Austin Ekeler. Robinson is entering his third NFL season in 2024, while Washington signed Ekeler in March to serve as Robinson’s backup and the ideal change-of-pace back due to his strength as a receiver.

PFF did rank one, but it wasn’t Robinson. Ekeler came in at No. 29 with the following explanation:

Ekeler has been a curious case at running back. He has yet to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in his career, but his proficiency as a touchdown scorer is undeniable. Ekeler led the NFL in total touchdowns in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, scoring 38 total touchdowns in that time — more than any other skill player.

However, his overall performance dipped across the board in 2023. Ekeler earned a 60.2 grade and rushed for 628 yards and five touchdowns while averaging just 3.5 yards per carry.

Ekeler was phenomenal as a dual-threat back from 2019-22 but struggled last year, mostly due to a nagging injury. The Commanders signed him to a two-year deal in the offseason, and he reunited with his former Chargers head coach, Anthony Lynn, who coaches running backs in Washington.

But why not Robinson?

Robinson faced multiple obstacles last season yet thrived when given opportunities. As a rookie, he rushed for 797 yards despite being shot twice in the leg in the preseason. Robinson missed the first four games but returned in Week 5. He was never 100% during his rookie season but still produced solid numbers.

In 2023, Robinson was healthy and rushed for 733 yards, but his yards per carry were slightly up in an offense where former offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy refused to run the football. Robinson did show how valuable he could be as a receiver, catching 36 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

New offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is building an offense that will support rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels with a strong running game. Robinson and Ekeler could both have a big season in 2024.

But we have to ask, how is Robinson not ranked as a top-32 back? That’s silly.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire