NFL Draft: Backup depth behind David Johnson
The NFL draft is only three days away and the Arizona Cardinals have quite a few positions to address
Long-term answers to the quarterback, wide receiver, and cornerback positions are key for the Cardinals’ long-term sustainable success. But what about a running back to complement star running back David Johnson?
David Johnson is expected to have a heavy workload but with a primary focus of the offense shifting to the run game, it would be wise for Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy to have a change-in-pace running back to keep Johnson fresh.
Don’t expect them to draft a running back in round one or two, but round three is a very realistic time for them to take one.
According to Jess Root of USA Today’s Cards Wire, the Cardinals are eyeing four running backs in the draft. This list includes Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, and Mark Walton.
Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb:
Michel (5-11, 220lbs) and Nick Chubb (5-11, 228lbs) are projected to be second round picks. Michel offers versatility as both a ball carrier and pass catcher, in addition to his underappreciated pass blocking skills. Chubb is an in-between the tackles type of player that battles for extra yards but lacks the versatile skill set that his former teammate has. Don’t expect either to be taken by the Cardinals unless they fall into the third round.
Projection: Second round
Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson
Johnson (6-0, 212lbs) is not the fastest running back in the draft but his patience on the field and resume speaks to the type of player he is. He finished the 2017 season with 1,391 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He has good size and catches the ball naturally. Reminds me of David Johnson but the Cardinals seem to be in search of a more speedy running back. He is projected to be a second day pick.
Projections: Second or third round
Miami’s Mark Walton
Walton (5-10, 188lbs) is a very intriguing prospect and is compared to Alvin Kamara. He is coming of a season where he only played five games, due to injuries. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has rushed for 2,006 yards, caught 56 passes, and scored 28 total touchdowns. He is considered to be one of the more elusive running backs in this draft but would benefit with a limited workload due to his small frame. He plays faster than his 4.6 second 40 yard dash suggests.
Projection: Third or fourth round
San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny
Penny (5-11, 220lbs) had a breakout 2017 season, rushing for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns. He is not on the list but he could end up being the best running back in this draft class. He has work to do as a route runner but his tendency to make game-changing plays is what makes this guy so special. Give him the ball and don’t be surprised if he takes it to the house. He is a running back that can do damage in both the run and passing game. Plus, he can return kicks. He’s a player that will immediately improve all facets of the offense and special teams.
Projection: Second or third round
Next: Predicting the 2018 Arizona Cardinals
As for the Cardinals current running back situation, a couple things have changed. Kerwynn Williams signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cardinals released Adrian Peterson. David Johnson has made a full recovery from the wrist injury he suffered in week one of 2017. T.J. Logan, the Cardinals 2017 5th round pick, also returns from IR after missing his entire rookie season. Elijhaa Penny is expected to be used in more of a fullback role this season. D.J. Foster, Bronson Hill, Darius Victor are the other running backs on the team.