The Falcons under Arthur Smith aren’t trying to fool anyone on offense. They are a smash-mouth football team, reminiscent of the NFL in the 90s. The club has an identity.
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 rookie franchise record with 1,035 rushing yards.
Allgeier was a hell of a find for Terry Fontenot, but there’s no complacency in the 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.”
And he’s right. Unless you have a freak of nature like Derrick Henry, who is bigger than the defenders tackling him, it’s best to have multiple running backs rotating. The Falcons should continue to draft a running back every year, never giving one a second contract.
The Falcons don’t need a running back when glancing 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 loaded with plenty of ball carriers that would pair nicely with Allgeier.
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.
He’s reminiscent of Alvin Kamara, whose contact balance is impeccable and whose receiving ability rivals some wideouts. He’s by far the best receiving back in this class. Gibbs has unreal acceleration and was basically the entire Alabama offense in 2022. He’d be the perfect compliment to Allgeier — thunder and lighting.
Achane is another ideal complement to Allgeier, who provides speed, explosiveness, and acceleration. He’s also a plus receiver, improving his value on third downs. Unlike Allgeier, Achane has home run speed.
Charbonnet is a load, similar to the way Tyler Allgeier is built. He shines between the tackles and runs like he’s mad at the world, yet he is surprisingly very balanced and displays excellent vision when I watched him. He wouldn’t compliment Allgeier but would provide a similar runner in case of injury.
Johnson doesn’t get enough credit for how effective of a runner he is because he was teammates with Bijan Robinson. He’s got the size, speed, and pass protection combination that could turn into a third-down workhorse with the right team.
He brings a different skill set than the rest. He’s not exactly a run-between-the-tackles type of back but displays electrifying footwork and instant acceleration. He just needs the ball in his hands in space; Spears would be a hell of a weapon for the Falcons offense.
I didn’t even mention Tank Bigsby, Eric Gray, Keaton Mitchell, Sean Tucker, Israel Abanikanda or Kenny McIntosh. There are more than a dozen productive running backs available in the NFL draft. I would be shocked if the Falcons didn’t come away with one to pair with Tyler Allgeier.
Photographer: Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire
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