Yesterday we began this series covering the Quarterbacks of the NFC East and discussing how great Carson Wentz was. Today we will move on to the other member of the backfield, the running back. Where the Eagles shine in the QB department, they lack in the RB department. Giants and Cowboys fans, beware, today you’ll get some vengeance.
Also, I want to note that although I do work at PFF and I do include grades and statistics in these articles, THESE ARE NOT PFF RANKINGS OF THE PLAYERS. These are my rankings. If you want to see PFF rankings, you’ll have to go to PFF. Without further adieu, lets get to the rankings.
1. Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 304 Att - 1434 Ru Yds / 77 Recs - 567 Re Yds / 9 Total TDs
PFF Grade: 72.3
Key Stat: Led the league with 25 running plays that resulted in 15+ Yd gains.
Zeke and Saquon are truly a 1A and 1B in not only the NFC East, but also the league. I’m giving Zeke the slight edge here due to his experience. Elliott is the Dallas offense.
2. Saquon Barkley - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 261 Att - 1307 Ru Yds / 91 Recs - 721 Re Yds / 15 Total TDs
PFF Grade: 85.9
Key Stat: Led the league with 706 Ru Yds coming on runs of 15 or more yards.
Barkley is one of my favorite players in the league. His explosiveness and ability to break tackles is reminiscent of some of the greatest to ever play the position. With 15 total touchdowns his rookie year on a garbage team, the sky is the limit for Barkley moving forward.
3. Derrius Guice - Washington
2018 Stats: :(
While Guice unfortunately tore his ACL prior to the 2018 NFL season, he was an absolute monster at LSU and looks to be a terror for years to come in the NFL. Heres a bunch of touchdowns from the 2016 NCAA season.
Every touchdown by Derrius Guice from the 2016 season. pic.twitter.com/PsClCvuRiZ— James Simpson (@JS_Football) April 1, 2018
While I think Guice will be great in the NFL, his high rank on this list is more of a statement of the condition of the running backs in the NFC East than it is a statement of his talent level.
4. Corey Clement - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 68 Att - 169 Ru Yds / 22 Recs - 192 Re Yds / 2 Total TDs
PFF Grade: 59.2
Key Stat: Second among NFL RBs with 12.3 Yards after Contact per Reception.
Clement had a very up and down 2018 season, but his raw talent as a receiving back excites me endlessly. I mean just look at some of these catches:
“Corey Clement, the rookie out of Wisconsin!” #OnWisconsin— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) October 24, 2017
What a catch, @CoreyClement_6!pic.twitter.com/wWaaid5hFr
And how about the catch from Corey Clement?! #SBLII pic.twitter.com/5au1E8T8j9— NFL UK (@NFLUK) February 5, 2018
Not only can he catch, but he can bust a move afterwards too.
Corey Clement with a huge catch and run on 3rd down! #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/EWsIlj7Jj7— FlurrySports (@FlurrySports) February 5, 2018
Its yet to be seen what the Eagles will do to address the the running back position in the coming months, it is a certainty that Clement deserves more touches in the coming season.
5. Josh Adams - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 120 Att - 511 Ru Yds / 7 Recs - 58 Re Yds / 3 Total TDs
PFF Grade: 68.1
Key Stat: Third behind Barkley & Elliott in terms of Breakaway % (a PFF stat to illustrate what percentage of the runners yards came on plays of 15 or more yards) with 36.6%
Adams busted onto the scene in 2018 and proved himself to be an NFL caliber player. While he is borderline useless in the passing game, his ability to run and create big plays is among the best in the division. Like Clement, it’ll be interesting to see how many touches Adams gets in the 2019 season.
6. Wayne Gallman - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 51 Att - 176 Ru Yds / 14 Recs - 89 Re Yds / 1 Total TD
PFF Grade: 58.1
Key Stat: Dropped 1/8th of the passes coming his way in 2018.
While Gallman didn’t do much in 2018 (see Saquon Barkley) he was actually pretty solid in 2017 for the Giants. Prior to that, Gallman was Deshaun Watson’s right hand man at Clemson. As long as Barkley is healthy, Gallman won’t get many touches but his talent level is intriguing.
7. Chris Thompson - Washington
2018 Stats: 43 Att - 178 Ru Yds / 41 Recs - 268 Re Yds / 1 Total TD
PFF Grade: 59.1
Key Stat: Among RBs in the division, QBs had a worse passer rating when targeting Thompson (94.6) than any other qualified RB in the division.
Thompson looked to be a good player a couple years ago, but in 2018 he was pretty miserable. In addition to being nonexistent in the running game, Thompson was fairly useless in the passing game, too. Unless something changes, Thompson doesn’t have much going for him these days.
8. Wendell Smallwood - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 87 Att - 364 Ru Yds / 28 Recs - 230 Re Yds / 5 Total TD
PFF Grade: 56.6
Key Stat: Longest run on the season was for 15 yards.
While the team seems to insist on keeping Smallwood around, with the potential losses of Ajayi and Sproles, he could find his way into more touches than he deserves again next season.
The Cowboys and the Giants clearly have the advantage here as of today. Washignton is somewhat of a wild card with Guice, and the Eagles have a handful of one-dimensional players that combine to resemble a decent running back corps. Advantage NYG & Dallas
Thanks to Pro Football Focus for all statistics involved in this article. Stay tuned to BGN as the series continues with the wide receiver position.