PFT Draft: RBs show me something in 2023
From Eagles’ Kenneth Gainwell to Vikings’ Alexander Mattison, Mike Florio and Peter King name which RBs have the most to prove in 2023.
- Pop-up draft on this Friday "PFT Live." A combo-- and Daniel Jones cannot be an answer to this one, Peter, because it's only running backs who need to show me something in 2023. Pop-up running back, show me something draft, I'll give you the first selection.
- Well Mike, the one guy who I think really-- and this is going to sound odd because I don't even think he's going to get the first carry for his team, but one of the reasons that the Eagles are not really stressing what happened to them last year is Kenneth Gainwell played well down the stretch, he played very well in the playoffs, and he proved that he can handle more of the load than he had ever been asked to handle in Philadelphia. I think you're going to see Kenneth Gainwell this year become, if not, a sole number one. I think he's going to be close to a co-number one in a talented stable of running backs in Philadelphia.
- Yeah. They added DeAndre swift after the Lions used the 12th overall pick on Alabama running back, Jahmyr Gibbs, but they've got plenty of guys they can count on, but somebody needs to step up and be the number one guy. I like that one. One of the continuing themes in recent weeks has been what are the Vikings going to do with Dalvin Cook. It feels like it's a matter of time before he's gone.
He's gone from their Twitter header, replaced by my first selection, Alexander Mattison. He's got four years in the NFL. He has performed well in the games when Dalvin Cook is injured, but he doesn't have that home run threat, that ability to break it and just go like we see Cook do.
Mattison needs to step it up this year. He needs to run hard. He needs to get faster, if that's physically possible given the four years he has in the NFL. But he's the guy now in Minnesota. Doesn't have a huge contract, but he's clearly going to be the guy, and he needs to step up and give the Vikings that running game to balance out their passing game.
- Mike, my next guy is going to be Bijan Robinson. There has been a tremendous-- there's been an overload of information about Bijan Robinson. I dare say that Bijan Robinson in this draft was more famous and more anticipated than Saquon Barkley was four years ago, and the reason I say that is because I think people look at Bijan Robinson as a guy who can also be a slot receiver.
And as Steve Sarkisian, the coach at Texas told me a month or so ago, he had the best hands on our team. And if we needed to, if we had a need he could have easily played in the slot for us. And so, I think Arthur Smith in Atlanta is looking at Bijan Robinson as a guy who not only will be used in the backfield, but will be used consistently in 4 and 5-wide receiver sets.
And I'll just say one other thing. Not a lot of pressure on Bijan Robinson because remember last year, Tyler Allgeier sort of came out of nowhere. The big thumping AJ Dillon kind of back, physical back, and he was over 1,000 yards for the Atlanta Falcons.
And I think what you're going to see this year is you're going and one of the reasons I'm bullish on the Atlanta Falcons and why this is a story for another day, but I think the NFL's going to regret not putting the Atlanta Falcons on primetime. I just think that is an opportunity missed.
Can you imagine on the field at the same time, Tyler Allgeier, Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Jonnu Smith, Kyle Pitts. I mean, if Desmond Ridder is competent, that team can put up 28 points a game. And so, I just like Bijan Robinson in whatever role he's going to fill in this offense, but it's going to be a significant one.
- You mentioned all those names, and you didn't mention Cordarrelle Patterson. He's there too. It's amazing.
- You're right about that. My fault. My fautl.
- They can still rectify the situation by flexing the Falcons to a Sunday or Monday night late in the season. The Falcons play their way into that consideration. Next one for me, I'm going to go JK Dobbins, the Ravens running back, who had a very promising rookie season, torn ACL training camp second year. Last year, is he ready? Is he not ready? He had a couple 100 yards. I think this is the year. This is it, up or out for him. He either secures his future in Baltimore and cements his name as one of the top running backs, or it's just not going to happen for JK Dobbins. So this is it for him.
- You know, I'll give you one that you're probably going to just raise your eyebrows and say you got to be kidding me, but I'm going to give you Rashaad White of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And, to me, the reason is, OK, Rachaad White, they had an awful running game last year in Tampa, but I think one of the things that the Buccaneers have done-- and I don't think the Buccaneers are going to be very good. Obviously, I had them ranked 31st in my rankings last week.
But they have to, I mean have to, be able to run the ball, and I think that has been part of what this offseason has been about for Todd Bowles and that offensive coaching staff because they need somebody to take the pressure off a new quarterback in Baker Mayfield, and receivers that, quite honestly, have gotten physically worn down at the end of years. So I think Rachaad White is going to get plenty of chances, and he must come through for Tampa to not be at the bottom of that division.
- Plenty of talk before the draft about what they expect from him. They didn't go out and add someone who would undermine White's status. There was some talk of Bijan Robinson, Lingard at 19 they would take him. Obviously, he didn't. I agree with you. White's going to have every opportunity.
Last one for me, mentioned Dalvin Cook earlier. How about James Cook, his younger brother who's entering year number two with the Buffalo Bills? He's currently estimated to be the top guy on the depth chart with Devin Singletary gone. Damien Harris is in. Latavius Murray is in. Nyheim Hines is still there, they just don't use him offensively.
Cook has the opportunity to become the running back the Bills desperately need to balance out the Josh Allen-centric offense. Cook could be the guy He's in the building. He did well last year. They like him. This is his opportunity to build the kind of legacy that his brother Dalvin did in Minnesota.