Year after year, you see major changes in the NFL during free agency and the draft. 2017 happens to be the year of the popular running back ending up in some new place. Major names in both free agency and the draft have a new home this upcoming season.
Some names on the move are intriguing for the right reasons. Others, not so much. For this article, I’ll keep it about football. Here is a look at the top 10 best fits for both old and new running backs in 2017.
No. 10: Joe Mixon to the Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals had good options at running back in 2016 with the combination of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Cincinnati still elected to take Joe Mixon in the second round of last week’s draft. Mixon is one of the most talented running backs to come out; however, there are tons of character questions surrounding Mixon and it is going to be very hard for him to draw a supportive fan base even if he is successful due to the domestic violence video that was made public.
No. 9: Danny Woodhead to the Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have never had a running back like Woodhead. If healthy, Woodhead is going to add a lot to this offense. He can be used in short-yardage situations and give Baltimore passing options out of the backfield. Woodhead also has a nose for the end zone, which is something the Ravens desperately.
No. 8: Jamaal Williams to the Green Bay Packers
The Packers have just had no options at the running back position since Eddie Lacy fell out of good standing with the team. In fact, most of the time in 2016, Green Bay used Ty Montgomery, whose primary position is wide receiver. Williams will give the Packers a real option in 2017. He rushed for nearly 4,000 yards and had 35 touchdowns during his career at BYU. Also, Williams does not turn the ball over, which is reason No. 1 he should start the regular season opener for Green Bay.
No. 7: Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook to the Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota parted ways with Adrian Peterson and really did a good job filling his role. Murray has been very good playing for the Oakland Raiders, finding the end zone and running over defenses. Cook has the entire package in run blocking, breakaway speed and pass catching; however, character issues are a problem for Cook as he begins his NFL career.
No. 6: Eddie Lacy to the Seattle Seahawks
This could be exactly what Lacy needs. A new contract, fresh motivation and a different team. I really like Lacy as a bruiser to spell Thomas Rawls. The risk here is Lacy’s weight. If he can keep it under control and stays healthy, Seattle’s running game will be on full display in 2017.
No 5: Jamaal Charles to the Denver Broncos
If healthy, Charles brings immediate play making ability to the Broncos. Denver can use him as a change of pace back and throw to Charles out of the backfield. His knees will be the question here. Whatever the result, the Broncos are in a minimal risk and high reward situation because of the structure of Charles’s contract. If it works, Denver will be loaded at the running back position with offensive line questions.
No 4: Marshawn Lynch to the Oakland Raiders
After retiring after the 2015 season, Lynch has decided to comeback and play for his hometown team. The signing makes sense with the Raiders expected to contend and the team waiting on a move to Las Vegas. Lynch is going to have to be ready to face good AFC West defenses after his year off. I do not expect Lynch to get through the regular season. If he does, the Raiders have an experienced weapon to use in the postseason.
No. 3 Adrian Peterson to the New Orleans Saints
It is difficult to figure out what Peterson has left after only playing in two games last season; however, Peterson has been known to surprise doubters. It will be an interesting one-two punch at running back with Peterson and Mark Ingram. If Peterson returns to his old from, the Saints should be a surprise postseason team.
No. 2: Christian McCaffrey to the Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey is going to give Cam Newton so many options. He should be the best runner Newton has ever had. McCaffrey will also be a very dangerous slot-receiver and return man. It is not out of the question the McCaffrey can lead the NFL in all-purpose yards and help Carolina get back into the postseason.
No. 1 Leonard Fournette to the Jacksonville Jaguars
In all honesty, this is the best college running back I have seen in quite some time. Fournette is just built differently. He is big, fast, can run over people and dash around them. Fournette will help stabilize the Jaguars’ offense by giving them a much needed running game while taking the pressure off of Blake Bortles. I expect Fournette to be one of the bast running backs in the NFL for years to come.
One thing is for certain, many new running backs and many old popular running backs have landed in new spots. It will be fun to see these rookies and old favorites in new cities. It has been a long time since we have seen this type of shake-up at the running back position in the NFL and we should all take it in and enjoy it.