It’s very likely that the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles will be in the market for a running back this season. Josh Adams has opportunity to make his case as the lead back, Corey Clement is still looking to recapture his 2017 form, and Wendell Smallwood perpetually falls behind the depth chart as seasons wear on. Regardless if Adams claims the temporary throne, they’ll still likely be looking for fresh depth and perhaps a feature back.
If they’re looking for a bell-cow back in this 2019 NFL Draft class, they’ll have to squint really hard. It’s early in the process but we know this much: there is no Saquon Barkley in this class. Not even close. It ‘s early in a process that is about to ramp up quick, but there’s so little top tier talent from this group that there’s a solid chance no running back will go first round.
The two top names that could sniff that area (I mean, Rashaad Penny went round one, right?) are Iowa State’s David Montgomery and Alabama’s Damien Harris. Both play today if you’re wanting to catch their games live. Montgomery takes on Drake (no, not that Drake) at noon and Harris will be featured in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. I’m a fan of both backs but don’t see either as first round talents.
If you’re looking for a running back that can handle a big workload and isn’t garnering a lot of buzz yet, you have to look to the state of Florida. He’s not a Gator, or a Nole, or even a Knight. He plays ball at Florida Atlantic, his name is Devin Singletary, his nickname is “Motor”, and he has scored 52 touchdowns in the last two years.
RB-heavy NFL Draft recap. #FAU RB Devin Singletary isn't receiving nearly enough national attention, but he is a RB1 candidate.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 12, 2018
Over the last two seasons, Singletary leads the FBS w/ 52 rush TDs - No. 2 on the list is 21 TDs (!!!) behind him.
If Dane Brugler is hyping a prospect, you should probably get to know him. So that’s what I did. I fired up the VCR and watched the tape. I came away impressed. Singletary’s 5’9”, 200 pound frame mixed with his excellent contact balance are a handful for defenders, who rarely take him down without help.
Keep the other backs, bring me FAU RB Devin "Motor" Singletary - pic.twitter.com/GVX3xshGMe— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 30, 2018
Singletary possesses a good understanding of tackling angles and has the play strength to absorb contact while keeping his feet churning. The much respected Matt Waldman recently raved about his polished stiff arm and he consistently brings the fight to defenders trying to go low with forearm blows.
Pro Football Focus credits him with 89 broken tackles this season, which leads all other backs in the country by a comfortable 26. That’s an improvement on last year’s tally, when he broke 83 tackles. He’s been doing his thing for a while, amassing 714 carries, 4,289 yards and 66 touchdowns in his career at FAU.
Beyond melting contact like butter, Singletary is a patient runner who presses the line of scrimmage with a plan. His best runs come when he flashes the ability to manipulate and displace unblocked second-level defenders.
Love this from Singletary, watch how he moves this LB - pic.twitter.com/uKOVAftMHA— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 30, 2018
Even on runs that are dead to rights from the snap, Singletary showcases the ability to make something out of nothing.
FAU RB Devin "Motor" Singletary with one of the best 1-yard runs you'll see (sorry 44 ) - pic.twitter.com/hPadlJqI88— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 30, 2018
There’s still a question if the true Junior will declare, but with over 700 carries to his name and a draft class lacking top tier running back talent, it would be a surprise to see him return and invite more tread on his tires for free.
His game isn’t perfect; he has very little experience as a receiver and doesn’t possess “home run” speed, so the draft process and testing will be big for his wallet. Despite those flaws and unknowns, Singletary’s vision, power, and proven production could lead to his name being called as early as Day 2.