Eagles Running Backs: Power Rankings

Eliot Shorr-Parks
May 02, 2019 - 5:30 am

The Eagles made two major additions to their running back position this offseason. How will they impact the battle in backfield for playing time?

Here is a power ranking for the Eagles’ running backs: 

1. Miles Sanders: Sanders (likely) won’t lead the Eagles in touches next season, and he almost certainly won’t lead them in rushing attempts, but make no mistake about it — Sanders is the most important running back on the roster. That was cemented when the Eagles used a second-round pick on in this year, the highest pick the team has used on running back since 2009. The Eagles need Sanders to work out, and will make sure he gets every chance he needs to prove he can play. As a rookie, Sanders should be No. 2 on the team in carries and potentially No. 1 in targets among running backs. If he isn’t in the top two of each, something has gone wrong. 

2. Jordan Howard: Sanders is a rookie, which makes Howard the veteran of the group, even if he is entering just his fourth season. What complicates things with Howard is that he only has one year remaining on his deal. It wouldn’t be unlike the Eagles to run Howard into the ground this year and then let him leave in free agency — just ask Jay Ajayi. Howard will be the starter in Week 1 and will lead the team in rushing attempts, especially in the red zone. The Eagles seem confident he can make an impact in the passing game as well. If he can, the Eagles could end up with a very dangerous and versatile one-two punch at running back. 

3. Corey Clement: It isn’t often that a player who was arguably MVP of the Super Bowl two seasons ago is a forgotten man, but that is sort of the case with Clement. Clement’s future seemed extremely promising in following the 2017 season, but his 2018 was a disappointment due to injury. Now that he is coming off of a season-ending knee injury, Clement will have to prove he is healthy before he gets back to being a consistent part of the offense. It is going to be hard for Clement to take snaps from Sanders or Howard, but it isn’t impossible. Clement’s roster spot is pretty close to locked up, but a bad preseason where he can’t stay healthy could change that quickly. Sanders saying he plans to contribute on kickoffs could also impact Clement’s value on the roster. 

4. Wendell Smallwood: Fans can think whatever they want about Smallwood, but what matters is what the coaches think of him, and the Eagles clearly value him. Smallwood earned playing time last year not just because of injury, but because he played much better than expected when he was given a chance. Smallwood has his flaws — pass blocking is near the top — but the coaches trust him. Smallwood has a very good chance of making the roster. 

5. Josh Adams: Adams is one of the hardest players on the Eagles to figure out. There is an argument to be made that his roster spot is basically locked up. He played very well as a rookie last season and won the starting job before hitting a rookie wall late in the year. As with any rookie, there is reason to be optimistic he will improve in his second season. The arrival of Sanders and Howard, however, took away two of the likely four roster spots at running back. Clement has a pretty firm grasp on the third spot. Adams will have to battle with Smallwood, and maybe even Boston Scott, for playing time. He is also going to need to show he can contribute on special teams. 

6. Boston Scott: The Eagles see something they like in Scott, as they added him to the roster late last season and had him active on gamedays. It will be interesting to see what kind of role the Eagles envision for Scott. More than likely the Eagles want to use him as a receiver out of the backfield. If they do, Scott’s path to the roster is there, as Howard has not been a threat in the passing game so far in the NFL and Sanders wasn’t in college. Add in the fact that Scott can return punts, and he could skyrocket up the depth chart pretty quickly in training camp. 

7. Donnel Pumphrey: It must be hard for Roseman to look at Pumphrey, knowing the running back has yet to meet the high expectations the general manager had for the rookie two seasons ago. The Pumphrey pick has not worked out yet for the Eagles, but he is still here, and the Eagles have kept him around for a reason. The talent is there — it just has to all come together for Pumphrey. Still, the battle for a roster spot will be an uphill one. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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