The running back position has been viewed as expendable in the NFL in recent seasons. Though, that doesn’t mean that teams won’t continue to utilize their running backs heavily in their offensive gameplans.
In today’s NFL, running backs are expected to be capable of running the ball and being a receiving threat in the aerial attack. Some running backs — more than others — are going to be put into situations to succeed in the upcoming season.
Over the course of the transactions that transpired offseason, it’s apparent that some running backs will have a chance to step into a more formidable role next season. In light of that, let’s take a look at three running backs that are poised to break out in the 2020 NFL season.
3. Ronald Jones
Of course, there was no bigger move to occur this offseason than Tom Brady choosing to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While it remains unclear how the New England Patriots will perform sans Brady, the Buccaneers offense immediately receives a boost.
During his time with the Patriots, Brady typically utilized his running backs as reliable targets in the passing game. Therefore, Ronald Jones figures to have an increased role in Tampa Bay’s backfield next season.
Just a season ago, while sharing touches with Peyton Barber — who departed in free agency — Jones totaled 1,033 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. Despite the Buccaneers taking Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jones should see an exponential increase in his production in 2020.
2. Austin Ekeler
When Melvin Gordon decided to holdout from the Los Angeles Chargers last season, Austin Ekeler took his place. In the four games that Ekeler started in Gordon’s absence, he provided a glimpse of what the Chargers offense would look like with him as the starter.
Altogether, in his four starts to begin the season, Ekeler garnered 490 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns. He would proceed to finish the season with 1,550 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns.
Seeing that Gordon signed with the Denver Broncos, Ekeler is poised to see the majority of the workload in 2020. Even though there’s uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position for the Chargers, Ekeler should have a stellar outing next season.
1. Miles Sanders
The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2019 NFL season with Jordan Howard as their starting running back. However, due to injuries, Miles Sanders would be thrust into the starting role — and he never looked back.
Sanders, a second-round pick for the Eagles in the 2019 NFL Draft, managed to start in 11 games last season. Throughout his rookie season, the Penn State product accumulated 1,327 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns. His 1,327 yards from scrimmage led all rookies in 2019.
While the Eagles surrounded Carson Wentz with more weapons in the passing game, Sanders will still play a pivotal role. Following an impressive rookie campaign in 2019, Sanders is a prime breakout candidate for the 2020 NFL season.