In a report from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Falcons had done extensive work on running backs in this draft class with Mike Davis under contract for the next two years, Quadree Ollison still on his rookie deal, and Cordarrelle Patterson on a one-year pact. Falcons fans can expect Atlanta to bring in at least one more running back through the draft as the team released Ito Smith in a head-scratching move.
With those three filling out the running back room, there was never a pressing need to draft a running back on the first two days of the draft. As the President of the Never Draft a Running Back High Club, I love that Terry Fontenot is waiting to address the position on the third day of the draft. Arthur Smith and Fontenot have been adamant that hitting on mid-to-late round draft picks is imperative to succeed in this league. NFL teams who can only draft high-end players in the first two rounds and not starting-caliber players throughout the draft are the mediocre teams year in and year out. Here are some running backs that fit schematically and are still available:
Considered to be undersized at 5-foot-8 and 210 pounds, he uses it to his advantage as Herbet runs low to the ground with incredible contact balance, leading the country last season with 4.7 years after contact per carry. He has the high-end speed to threaten defenses as his 10 career 50+ yard runs in college are the second most in this draft class, one behind Etienne. But what makes him a perfect fit is his excellent vision, ability to change direction, and his intangibles — earning the Virginia Tech Williams-Moss Award for the highest quality of leadership and character.
Stevenson is a Derrick Henry-type of running back, a bruising back with hints of finesse when it calls for it. In two seasons at Oklahoma, he rushed for over seven yards per carry at over 240-pounds. He’s a downhill runner with great vision, which is why I think he should be able to play in Smith’s zone offensive scheme. He is raw but has the skillset to make an impact at the next level, using his dense frame to his advantage.
Evans is an athletic specimen but didn’t have the chance to showcase over the course of the last two seasons — academically ineligible for the 2019 season and never got back in a groove in 2020. Evans was once an impressive running back but has been hampered by a lack of production. His character doesn’t exactly align with what Fontenot has been drafting, but Evans is easily someone who can develop into a backup.
Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire