PFF ranks Broncos backfield just outside NFL’s top 10

Melvin Gordon runs through a tackle. Credit: Anthony Hitchens, USA TODAY Sports.
Melvin Gordon runs through a tackle. Credit: Anthony Hitchens, USA TODAY Sports.

In their series ranking where each position group on every team ranks among the rest of the league, Pro Football Focus’ analysts have finally gotten around to the running back position.

Unfortunately for Broncos Country, PFF is much lower on the Broncos’ backfield than those in Denver are, ranking the unit 12th.

Phillip Lindsay was an excellent find as an undrafted free agent and has ranked in the top 10 among rushers in each of the last two seasons,” PFF analyst Steve Palazzolo wrote. “Over that period, the 190-pounder has earned a zone-rushing grade of 85.3, the third-best grade among backs in that span. He’s also recorded zero fumbles across 416 attempts.”

While PFF is a fan of Lindsay’s work through his first two seasons in the league, they’re much lower on what Melvin Gordon III could bring to the Broncos’ offense.

“The Broncos also added Melvin Gordon III to the mix after a holdout and a disappointing season that resulted in a 66.0 grade and only 3.8 yards per carr,” Palazzolo wrote. “Surprisingly, Gordon has averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in four of his five years in the league, with his 2018 season sticking out as by far his best. That year, Gordon graded at 83.6 overall and even ranked second in the league in rushing grade, at 89.4.¬†Denver will have a top-five backfield if it gets the 2018 version of Gordon, but the rest of the former Charger’s career projects him as a mid-level option.”

Hopefully, Gordon rebounds, as mixing a top-five backfield with the Broncos loaded, young receiving core would give them one of the league’s most potent offenses. Royce Freeman is also an intriguing option at the back-end of Denver’s running back depth chart, even if his fit is now in question with Gordon on the roster.

“The two are joined by Royce Freeman, who has graded in the 60s in his two years in the league, though he has earned a somewhat impressive 68.1 rushing grade,” Palazzolo wrote. “He hasn’t quite developed into the every-down back he looked like early in his career at the University of Oregon. He’s a fine complementary piece, albeit one who will struggle to find touches with Gordon in the mix.”

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