Backfield Breakdown: Will Anyone Thrive In The Post-Marshawn Lynch Era?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With Marshawn Lynch officially retiring, the Seahawks running back corps is certainly in flux.  That’s not to say that there isn’t upside and potential, because they are actually flush with running backs who could make an impact.  The question is who is going to step up and carry the load?  Let’s take a look:

 

Thomas Rawls
Entering his second season, Rawls actually led the Seahawks in rushing last year as he took 147 carries for 830 yards and 4 TD.  He had more than 6 carries in a game six times, and each time he thrived:

  • September 27 (vs. Chicago) – 16 carries for 104 yards
  • October 5 (vs. Detroit) – 17 carries for 48 yards
  • October 11 (at Cincinnati) – 23 carries for 169 yards and 1 TD
  • November 22 (vs. San Francisco) – 30 carries for 209 yards and 1 TD
  • November 29 (vs. Pittsburgh) – 21 carries for 81 yards and 1 TD
  • December 6 (at Minnesota) – 19 carries for 101 yards and 1 TD

There are some mighty impressive days there, and while he did undergo surgery on his ankle there is every reason to believe that he’ll be ready to go and is primed to be the lead back to enter the season.  Prior to being drfted NFL.com described him by saying:

Compact, powerful running back who runs just as powerfully on his 35th carry (back-to-back games of 40 carries) as he does to start the game. While he finishes with brute force, he possesses the vision and lateral movement of a finesse runner. He is more than capable of handling a starter’s workload in the NFL, and had Purdue’s safeties ready to tap out by the end of that game last season.”

It’s impossible to expect anyone to replicate Rawls’ 5.6 yards per carry from his rookie season, but there’s clearly potential.  The depth behind him, as well as the surgery, is going to put him more in the RB2 conversation.  That said he has RB1 potential.

 

C.J. Prosise
Selected in the third round out of Notre Dame this past season, Prosise converted from wide receiver to running back and showed promise in his new role.  Obviously we know he can catch the football, which could be his role initially (Rawls had just 9 receptions last season), but he also took 156 carries for 1,032 yards and 11 TD.  Last season Fred Jackson caught 32 passes (on 41 targets), so there’s no questioning that the opportunity will be there.

He also has the size teams look for (he’s listed at 6’0” and 220 lbs.), and he has the potential with his legs to also make an impact.  As NFL.com said:

Ascending running back prospect with the physical build to handle a workload, the athleticism to create for himself and the hands to keep stacking total yardage up. While Prosise has the acceleration and play strength to fit into an NFL offense, he needs to become a shade more decisive and has to improve in protections if he is to become a three-­down option. Prosise looks like an immediate “committee” runner with future starter potential.”

More of a handcuff initially, Prosise is well worth targeting in the later rounds and is a must own in PPR formats.

 

Christine Michael
There was a time that he was viewed as a running back with upside, but he has just 106 carries for 497 yards over his first three seasons in the NFL.  At this point he’s more of a depth player, and with Seattle drafting three running backs this past season there’s a good chance he’s squeezed out.

 

Alex Collins
Drafted in the fifth round out of Arkansas, Collins is coming off a season where he took 271 carries for 1,577 yards and 20 TD.  The numbers may jump off the page, but by all reports he is more of a steady running back as opposed to a dynamic one.  Given the crowded backfield, it’s hard to imagine him generating enough carries to make an impact in his rookie season.  Instead, his nose for the end zone could make him an ideal short yardage/TD vulture, but in most cases you’ll be better served monitoring him off the waiver wire.

 

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com 

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