2023 NFL Draft has running backs galore; Falcons will be in the market

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The Falcons found an identity in 2022. Atlanta had the third-best rushing attack in the league, averaging nearly 160 yards per game. Cordarrelle Patterson dealt with injuries again but was reliably explosive when on the field. The group was led by Tyler Allgeier, who set a franchise record with 1,035 yards.

Allgeier was a hell of a find for Terry Fontenot, but there’s no complacency in Atlanta’s front office. Despite the running back position being one of the few that doesn’t need obvious bolstering, the Falcons will add to it.

“Man, he’s a good player, (but) you always need multiple at that position,” Fontenot said, via Sports Illustrated’s Daniel Flick. “I think having one running back and just carrying the ball all the time, I think that’s kind of rare and unique for somebody. You need to have multiple running backs to preserve their career to take care of them.”

I’ve long been a proponent of never paying a running back lucrative contract because it rarely works out — Ezekial Elliott, Todd Gurley, Shaun Alexander, Ahman Green, etc. The list goes on and on. They take such a beating over the course of a season that it’s almost certain their bodies break down prematurely.

Tyler Allgeier might not reach that point for a few years, but it’s better to have someone supplement his current load or be ready to take the reins when he loses a step. It’s a sad reality of playing in the NFL, but teams have to prepare for the future.

The Falcons don’t need a running back when taking a glance at the depth chart, but one injury to Allgeier and Atlanta is suddenly scrambling. Cordarrelle Patterson can no longer carry the bulk of carries and should be preserved for the length of the season. The team has to add to the position; luckily, the 2023 draft class is absolutely loaded with every kind of ball carrier.

Bijan Robinson headlines the group and is one of the best running back prospects to enter the draft since the turn of the decade. In another era of football, he’d be in the conversation for the #1 pick. The Texas product would be an MVP candidate in Arthur Smith’s run heavy offense.

Everyone might be focused on Robinson, but Jahmyr Gibbs is nothing to look over. He’s reminiscent of Alvin Kamara, whose contact balance is impeccable and whose receiving ability rivals some wideouts. Gibbs has unreal acceleration and was basically the entire Alabama offense in 2022. He’d be the perfect compliment to Allgeier — thunder and lighting.

Zach Charbonnet, Devon Achane, SeWayne McBride, Tank Bigsby, Kendre Miller, Tyjae Spears, Deuce Vaughn, Sean Tucker… the list is seemingly endless! There are 10+ running backs in this class that I believe can contribute in a significant way, even with Allgeier as the primary ball carrier.

“He’s such a smart, versatile player,” Fontenot said. “He’s a guy that’s not just first and second down, but third downs, protection, he’s smart, he can catch the ball, he could go play special teams on fourth down. And so, we love Tyler, but it’s another position that we have to always add to.”

Photographer: Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire
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