With Tevin Coleman having one foot out the door in free agency, Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith will be the only running backs on the roster. Freeman is the clear-cut starter as he returns from an injury-plagued 2018, and Smith proved last year he is more than capable of handling the backup role. But given Freeman’s extensive injury history, the Falcons have to look at finding another option to add to the mix and potentially play an even larger role a couple of years down the road.
There is not a ton of tape on Anderson at Oklahoma. He only played in two games in his freshman season and tore his ACL early on as a junior in 2018, but his sophomore campaign was one to remember. Playing in the high-flying Sooners offense, Anderson rushed for 1,161 yards, received for 281 more and totaled 18 touchdowns. He’s an elusive back that is a handful to bring down, and once he gets up to speed, he is nearly impossible to stop. Here is an example:
By drafting Anderson, the Falcons would get another body in the rotation that would be particularly helpful on third downs. Anderson is a natural receiver with a knack for making big plays in the receiving game, that can be seen by his 16.5 average yards per catch.
I'm becoming more and more impressed with Rodney Anderson. Good in pass protection, great acceleration in the open field and has excellent hands out of the backfield. pic.twitter.com/KCLKG1nnWx
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) February 14, 2019
Although, he will have to improve as a pass blocker. By tearing his ACL last season, he will be a drafted way lower than he would have been, which will allow one lucky team to scoop him up in the later rounds.
I’m a bit confused as to why Williams isn’t being talked about more as a running back prospect. Williams was a workhorse for a Texas A&M Aggies team that saw massive improvements under new head coach Jimbo Fisher. He carried the ball an absurd amount (273 times), but still averaged 6.5 yards per carry and totaled a ridiculous 1,760 yards. He also showed promise as a pass-catcher with 27 catches for 278 yards.
Williams was a contender for the best one-man show at the running back position in the SEC. He has breakaway speed, giving him the ability to make explosive plays and will not be caught. His power is something that can be improved on, but he can still get behind his pads and move the pile and is a fantastic pass blocker. Here is a six-play stretch against NC State – a pretty good defensive team – showing off everything Williams brings to the table.
— J Moyer (@JMoyerFB) February 14, 2019
Williams is honestly one of my draft-day crushes to this point. This is a player that is projected to be available in the fifth-round or later, and whoever lands him will be extremely fortunate that they did. The Falcons could use his skills now as a rotational piece, and perhaps he blossoms into a full-time starter down the road.
At 5’10”, 190 pounds, Higdon is an undersized running back out of Michigan, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he runs. He’s a slippery ball carrier that can make defenders miss in the open field – especially smaller ones – resulting in a lot of long runs. But Higdon also isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and deliver a boom when he gets up to speed.
Another trait to love about Higdon is his patience and vision as he approaches the line of scrimmage. Here you can see Higdon wait for his blocks to develop, see a sliver of light, and burst through the correct hole. He also shows a bit of how slippery he is, turning what could have been a minimal gain into a first down run.
— NFL Draft Geek (@NFLDraftGeek) August 20, 2018
Michigan was a run first, power offense. So despite Higdon’s lack of size, it never affected him on a team that prides themselves in establishing momentum with their power run game. He could be available as late as Day 3 and should provide plenty of pop for whoever drafts him.