Currently the Washington Redskins have four running backs with experience and a fullback, they will keep at least four backfield options, possibly five. Here is how they rank, including predictions for where they end-up. Tiers are based off of what their expected value is for 2013, due to a combination of past production and likely potential. Overall potential, or contract status is not really taken into account.
Description: Top level starter, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won’t face any competition for his job.
-Morris burst on to the scene last year as a 6th round rookie, and ended up second in the league in rushing. He was tremendous throughout the year and in any other year would have probably won rookie of the year award. He was the perfect complement to Robert Griffin III in the Redskins offense and was instrumental in the Redskins success last season. Morris did much of his damage on his own, as he gained over 1,000 yards after contact last season. Morris should continue to be one of the premier backs in the league, though he does need to improve as a pass catcher. His total yardage may drop off some, as his carries could go down some in an effort to take some of the workload off his shoulders.
-Young has become one of the premier fullbacks in the league. Not only is he a strong lead blocker and personal protector for the quarterback, but he can be an offensive weapon as well. He is both a solid runner and good receiver out of the backfield. Young only got 22 touches last season, but was effective last year gaining 169 yards and scoring two touchdowns. He should be inline for more touches this upcoming season, and should be expected to play between 30-35% of the offensive snaps.The only thing limiting him is the decreasing role of the fullback in the NFL, and the fact that his snaps will likely max around 35% of the offense, putting him behind the 3rd receiver and about on par with the 2nd tight end in the offense.
Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Should both easily make the team and start.
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Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won’t consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.
Helu Jr. was the Redskins 4th round pick in 2011. He had a fairly productive rookie season, particularly when he got a chance to be a starter during the 2nd half of the year. Nagging injuries ended up limiting him that year, but he still had a strong rookie campaign. He’s got good speed and agility, as well as receiving ability. He may never be a feature back, but could be a good change of pace/third down back option. Injuries are a concern as they wiped out nearly his entire 2012 campaign, and reports are his recovery has been slow going forward. If healthy he’s a good option, but that unfortunately could be a big “if”.
Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He’s a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.
-Royster was a 6th round pick in 2011, and while he didn’t make the team from the start, he did make a splash later in the year with back-to-back 100 yard rushing games to close the season. He lacks good speed, but has good vision and can work in the Redskins zone blocking scheme. Though he was expected to play a bigger role last year, preseason injuries allowed Alfred Morris to pass him on the depth. Royster dealt with a nagging knee injury early in the season, but never showed any ability to take snaps from Morris. Royster finished with just 23 carries and 15 receptions last year. He will need a strong training camp/preseason to maintain a roster spot this year, and probably is no better than a 3rd back.
Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn’t really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn’t even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn’t be considered a starting option at all.
-Keiland Williams was an undrafted rookie with the Redskins in 2010. Due to injury he got some playing time, and averaged 4.0 yards per carry on 65 attempts, while adding 39 receptions and a total of 5 touchdowns. Williams was waived in 2011, and picked up by the Detroit Lions. He was cut this past year, and signed with Washington for depth late in the season, but didn’t see any action on offense. Williams is more of a hybird fullback/running back, who does help out on special teams. Though he’s a long shot to make the team he does offer some abilities that could help the team.
Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn’t even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.
What do you think? How would you rank the Redskins backfield options? And do you think they should look to upgrade?