The Running Back the Eagles Will (Probably) Draft, Part 1

In this segment I will determine the few players that the Eagles will likely pursue in the draft at each position of need, and when they will select them.

As we discussed in our positional breakdown of the Eagles and their offseason needs, the Birds don’t have a true number 1 running back that can work all three downs and take pressure off the passing game and Carson Wentz.

Jay Ajayi, RB, will likely leave the Eagles for free agency this offseason.Credit PhillyVoice

The Eagles ask a lot of their running backs- they are expected to be able to block and be a receiver on top of their running duties. While the Eagles are predominantly a pass-heavy team, if they could implement a sturdy number 1 running back then their play-action game and Wentz’s health can only be improved.

Remember how bad the Eagles receivers were during Wentz’s rookie season? They had a bad Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews when he dropped every other pass, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, and Josh Huff, and Wentz still managed to make plays, and the Eagles were able to win games with a rookie coach and QB.

The next year, they added WR talent and the offense exploded. Wentz was nearly an MVP until his injury, and the Birds got their first ring.

They were also helped through the work of a solid running game in LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, but Blount is gone and Ajayi probably is, too. This helped take pressure off Wentz and the passing game, while chewing up clock and tiring out defenses. Hence, the need for a stud running game, lead by a stud running back.

The Prospect: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

The first running back that we will look at is Rodney Anderson. Anderson is Underdog’s fourth-highest rated RB in the draft, and received an 84.5 rating in the first round of player grades.*

Anderson is 6’1″ and just shy of 220 lbs, making him one of the bigger backs in the draft. He doesn’t move like one of the bigger backs, though, as he is has the speed to break off long runs.

*In this segment I’ll offer some of the tape I watched on these prospects (see my big board post to see my rules on each prospect) as well as a highlight reel, if available. This way you can watch what each player is capable of in the highlights, but getting the complete picture of their game through the tape.*

Here is his tape from a 2018 game against Florida Atlantic University (FAU):

Though it’s a short film, Anderson scores twice and contributes in the passing game and also makes a couple nice blocks. At 1:10 in the video, Anderson shows off his vision in the midst of some downfield blocks to find the lane for a TD. At 2:20, he also shows off his speed on the outside, and his ability to run through arm tackles.

Here is another highlight reel from his career:

Oklahoma has a pretty good history of producing running backs for the NFL, including Adrian Peterson, Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.

Anderson’s biggest concern entering the NFL is his durability, as he has had three season-ending injuries in his four years at Oklahoma. This injury history will absolutely affect Anderson’s draft stock, and Matt Miller predicts Anderson will be drafted in the fifth round.**

*Underdog’s first round of ratings were based on performance on tape, and not on potential or injury history. The grades were out of 100, and the highest rated player received a grade of 96.25 (Nick Bosa), for reference.

**Underdog primarily follows Matt Miller of Bleacher Report regarding mock drafts and draft stock of players, though we have had plenty of differing opinions over the years. This year, for example, Miller has Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen as his 3rd best prospect in the draft, whereas Underdog has him rated at 42. So we take Miller’s opinions as legitimate, but we are not afraid to disagree with our most respected expert opinion.

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