Nick Chubb

Poll: Which Rookie RB Will Rush For Most Yards In 2018?

In selecting their third first-round running back of this century, the Giants continued to show how they regard this position despite its marginalization over the past several years. Saquon Barkley is the odds-on favorite to win offensive rookie of the year.

However, the running back position produces annual mid- or late-round surprises — from Devonta Freeman to Jordan Howard to Kareem Hunt — that end up providing immense value to certain teams. The Giants obviously have an incredibly gifted ball-carrier set to take handoffs from Eli Manning, but which of Barkley’s peers is in the best position to challenge him (and the quarterback contingent) for the OROY honor?

The other two first-round RBs look to be less equipped for a strong challenge due to circumstances.

Sony Michel‘s prospects of being an immediate ground producer may have been better on a different team. While the Patriots boast one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, Bill Belichick notoriously finds myriad usages for his backs and involves nearly all of them. Although, Dion Lewis‘ departure after a 180-carry season opens the door for someone to take over as New England’s primary back. And Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 156 totes at Georgia last season. Rashaad Penny looks to be behind Chris Carson to start the season, and the surprise first-rounder may be given time to develop for a Seattle team that’s struggled on the ground for a few years now.

After Round 1, however, it becomes a bit more interesting. The Buccaneers did not possess a formidable depth chart at running back prior to investing their second-round pick in USC’s Ronald Jones. In 2017, Jones rushed for 1,550 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns. He could well be an early-season starter, with the likes of Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber in his path toward a first-string role. Chosen just before Jones, Nick Chubb will have to contend with Carlos Hyde in Cleveland this season for the revamped Browns. Chubb, though, notched three 1,000-yard seasons in the nation’s toughest conference.

Kerryon Johnson looks to be set to start in a committee in Detroit, but the Lions have been desperate for a surefire ground producer for years now. And they view Johnson as a three-down backLeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah reside in the Motor City carries picture, but neither would impede Johnson from a major role if he proves ready from the outset. Derrius Guice could have a quicker path to playing time in Washington. Considered by some the second-best back in this draft, the LSU product fell largely because of character concerns. However, Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 2016 on nearly 200 attempts and is expected to push for the Redskins’ starting job from the start.

Also expected to challenge for an early role: the Broncos’ Royce Freeman. The Oregon-developed talent posted three 1,300-plus-yard seasons with the Ducks, amassing a staggering 947 college carries. With the Broncos having moved on from four-year starter C.J. Anderson, only Devontae Booker (299 rushing yards last season) resides in the third-rounder’s path. Is he a threat to be the 2018 version of Hunt?

As for Barkley, he has the most obvious route to a full-time gig. Despite Jonathan Stewart now being in the Big Apple, the Penn State dynamo will factor in from the start of the Giants’ season. And the three-down back totaled at least 2,300 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back years for the Nittany Lions. The Giants have questions up front, having lost Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but they added multiple UFAs — spearheaded by Nate Solder — and chose likely Day 1 starter Will Hernandez in Round 2.

So, will Barkley’s situation be too much for the rest of this class to overcome, a la Ezekiel Elliott? Or will one of the later-round picks emerge in Hunt fashion? Is there a Day 3 dark horse in this year’s class in the mold of Freeman or Howard? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Sign RB Nick Chubb

The Browns have signed rookie Nick Chubb, according to a tweet from the running back’s agency. As dictated by his slot, Chubb will receive a four-year deal worth about $7.4MM with a $3.45MM signing bonus. He’ll carry a modest cap number of $1.342MM in 2018 with modest increases between now and 2021. 

Chubb became the second of the Browns’ second-round picks this year when he was selected at No. 35 overall. After running for 1,345 yards in his final year at Georgia, Chubb holds promise as a solid all-round back at the pro level.

Many evaluators feel that Chubb is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. That’s not necessarily a major dig on Chubb, given that many running back prospects have struggled with ball security and other basics in the NFL. However, he doesn’t profile as the fastest back in the league and his lack of usage on passing downs in college leaves some mystery about his ball-catching and blocking abilities.

Fortunately for the Browns, they already have a dynamic pass-catching back in Duke Johnson and an established runner in Carlos Hyde. Chubb won’t be tasked with a large workload right off of the bat, which should allow him room to progress at a reasonable pace.

As shown on PFR’s draft pick signing tracker, the Browns have just two picks left to go in No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and No. 4 overall choice Denzel Ward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Sutton, Chargers, Landry

The Cowboys exited Round 1 without taking a wide receiver, but the team is aiming for one in the second round. Dallas is hoping SMU’s Courtland Sutton is available, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. La Canfora notes the Saints are also interested in Sutton, whom some mocks had going in Round 1. New Orleans’ interest is noteworthy due to the deep arsenal of wide receivers on its roster, with Cameron Meredith now in the fold and Brandon Coleman having re-signed. But Ted Ginn is now 33. The Cowboys, conversely, need a wideout now after cutting Dez Bryant. Coupled with the news of Jason Witten‘s rumored departure and it’s logical to assume the Cowboys will exit Day 2 with a pass-catcher. Dallas’ next pick is at No. 50, and rumors of a possible Earl Thomas swap have emerged. Should the Cowboys unload their second-round selection for the All-Pro safety, they will almost certainly miss out on Sutton being there. And they may even have to trade up to land him regardless.

Here’s the latest from the draft world as Day 2 looms:

  • The Chargers have not drafted a quarterback since 2013, but La Canfora tweets a lot of buzz has surfaced about the Bolts’ interest in Mason Rudolph. Viewed as this draft’s sixth-best quarterback prospect, Rudolph may require the Chargers to trade up. The Bolts did their homework on this draft’s quarterback prospects, and that included a workout with the Oklahoma State passer.
  • And the Bolts are indeed considering a trade-up from their No. 48 position, per La Canfora, who adds the Chiefs are inquiring about a move north as well (Twitter link). Kansas City considered moving into the back end of the first round but decided against, and Brett Veach said those talks weren’t too close to producing a deal. However, the Chiefs don’t pick until No. 54 and have several needs across their defense.
  • Boston College standout pass rusher Harold Landry is still be on the board entering Round 2, and injury concerns may be at the root of it. Some teams have flagged Landry for medical reasons, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), adding knee and back issues have impeded a possible pick. Landry played in only eight games for Boston College last season, missing time with an ankle malady. However, he registered 16.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a junior in 2016. It may be up to a team that doesn’t view Landry’s issues as enough of an investment deterrent to take him off the board Friday night.
  • The Browns are high on Georgia running back Nick Chubb, La Canfora notes (via Twitter). Cleveland was linked to Saquon Barkley but didn’t have a chance to get him at No. 4. John Dorsey acquired the reigning NFL rushing champion, Kareem Hunt, in the third round last year. The Browns recently signed Carlos Hyde and have Duke Johnson entering a contract year.
  • Former Wichita State basketball player Shaq Morris has an interesting decision on his hands, it appears. Morris is determining if he will try to make an NBA push or, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter), try his hand at an NFL career. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound athlete averaged a career-high 14.0 points per game last season for the Shockers and finished as the now-American Athletic Conference program’s all-time dunks leader. Garafolo reports Morris has hired NFL agent David Canter and will entertain interest from teams. Morris played high school football and may be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Antonio GatesJulius Thomas and others whose college careers mostly commenced on basketball courts.

NFL Draft Rumors: Patriots, Key, 49ers

After losing Nate Solder in free agency, the Patriots are on the lookout for offensive tackle help. With that in mind, the Patriots hosted Texas tackle Connor Williams on a visit on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Thanks to the Brandin Cooks trade earlier this offseason, the Pats are armed with two picks late in the first round. Williams could be available when the Pats are called to the podium at No. 23, though the league-wide need for tackles could result in the 6’6″ lineman going higher.

Here’s the latest batch of NFL draft news:

  • LSU outside linebacker/defensive end Arden Key worked out for the 49ers on Wednesday and will move on to the Raiders on Thursday, Rapoport tweets.
  • South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, who could be the first tight end to come off of the board, visited the Dolphins on Wednesday, Rapoport tweets. Miami is reportedly high on him, but he has also met with the Seahawks, Chargers, and Lions, according to Rapoport. As previously reported, the Vikings met with Goedert last week.
  • Cornerback Isaiah Oliver has had workouts/visits with the Eagles, Falcons, Bears, Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Panthers, Patriots, Saints, Broncos, and Cowboys, sources tell Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Miller personally believes that he would be a great fit for Arizona. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Oliver ranked as the 36th best prospect in this year’s draft and it would be no surprise to see him go in the first round.
  • Georgia running back Nick Chubb will visit with the Buccaneers on Wednesday, according to Josh Norris of NBC Sports (on Twitter). Chubb has been lauded for his power and ability to run on the inside and figures to be a second round pick.
  • The Lions hosted Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson for a visit on Tuesday, Rapoport tweets. Johnson was recently bumped from Jeremiah’s top 50 but should still garner consideration in the second round.

Running Back Notes: Martin, Elliott, Lacy, Bell

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin hasn’t seen the field since the second week of the season, but the 27-year-old may finally have a definitive return date. Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the team is optimistic that Martin will return for next week’s contest against the Bears.

“We’re hopeful that after these three days off that maybe he has a shot at Chicago,” Koetter said (via Alex Marvez of Sporting News). “But hamstrings seem to linger a little bit. We’ll have to wait and see.

“These hamstrings are just delicate. He was 90-plus percent back and doing his rehab run one day and he tweaked it again. (Bucs trainers) kind of had to go back and start over.”

Martin rushed for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns last season, and the organization rewarded him with a five-year, $36MM extension. The former first-round pick collected 85 yards on 25 carries in 2016 before being sidelined with the hamstring injury.

Let’s take a look at some other notes pertaining to the NFL’s running backs…

  • Domestic violence accusations have surrounded Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott this season, and an incident report from the Aventura (Fla.) Police Department (obtained by USA Today’s Tom Pelissero and A.J. Perez) said the player’s ex-girlfriend/accuser also accused the athlete of abusing her back in February. The police said there were no visible signs of injury, and Elliott was not arrested. The writers say it’s unclear whether the NFL knew about these previous allegations.
  • There are several big-name running back prospects in this year’s NFL draft, but one scout believes the depth is overrated. “This was billed as some elite running back class—it’s not,” the scout told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. [Leonard] Fournette is a freak, but everyone knows that. Dalvin Cook is exciting, but he’s not close to last year’s first-rounder [Ezekiel Elliott]. [Nick] Chubb is a third[-rounder] from what I’ve heard in our group. The big kid at Texas [D’Onta Foreman] is the one to watch if he comes out. I like him better than Derrick Henry.”
  • ESPN.com’s Field Yates previews the “biggest upcoming roster decisions” for each NFL team, and the writer points to two team’s running situations. With Eddie Lacy set to become a free agent, the Packers will have to decided whether they want to invest in the veteran or go a different route. If the team does look to replace the 26-year-old, Yates believes they’ll do so via the draft.
  • Meanwhile, Yates also looks at the situation in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell. As the 24-year-old slowly creeps towards unrestricted free agency, the writer wonders whether the team will spend to keep one of their homegrown talents.