Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood could be very special


Wendell Smallwood had an underwhelming rookie campaign, but the good news is he’s similar to what could be a very explosive rookie.

The NFL Draft ended a mere two months ago. Following a few trades and a very hectic process, the Philadelphia Eagles came away with some new additions, prticularly Donnel Pumphrey of the San Diego State Aztecs. It’s likely he’ll serve as a change of pace in the offense. He’ll also likely take over for an aging Darren Sproles.

The signing of LeGarrette Blount should receive excitement but must also be taken with a grain of salt. Blount will be 31 by the end of the season and may even be on the incline. Downhill running is where he is best served. His receiving skills aren’t the best. On top of that, the New England Patriots have been the only team he’s had true success with.

This past off-season:

None of the top free agent running back targets ended up in Philadelphia. That led to some disappointment after the team was linked to Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey. Fans were hoping this team could land someone who could excite the fan base last April. They didn’t, but they may have found something special in Pumphrey. That makes some wonder about the guys they already have on the roster.

Enter Wendell Smallwood. He may eventually be looked at as a fifth-round steal from last year’s draft.

When looking at Smallwood’s athletic profile, it’s easy to compare him to McCaffrey. The Carolina Panthers will be expecting big things from the eighth-overall selection. Some even suspect he could put a 1,000 yard season in his rookie season. He put up around 190 total yards a touchdown per game during his collegiate career. He’s never played an NFL game, but  he has some serious tools. Smallwood has quite a few of those same tools.

An interesting comparison:

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They are separated in height by an inch and in weight by six pounds. McCaffrey is five-foot-eleven and weighs 202 pounds. He has 30 inch arms, and nine inch hands. Meanwhile, Smallwood is five-foot-ten and weighs 208 pounds. He has 30.5 inch arms, and nine-and-a-quarter-inch hands.

Clearly, the two are nearly identical in their physical measurables. Let’s take a look at their production at their respective NFL Combines.

At his combine, McCaffrey’s numbers were impressive. He was clocked with a 4.48 40-yard-dash time. He posted a time of 4.22 in the 20-yard shuttle, but he had a disappointing showing on the bench press, registering just ten reps. Smallwood he ran 4.47 in the 40-yard dash and 4.28 in the 20-yard shuttle. Like McCaffrey, he struggled with the bench press, putting up only eight reps. McCaffrey recorded a vertical jump of four inches higher than Smallwood’s.

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What can be expected:

When it comes to both backs, the two are almost identical to each other. Well, at least they are from an athletic standpoint. McCaffrey’s appears to be the more polished, but Smallwood has a ton of potential. Each player’s athleticism will play an important role in their long-term NFL success, but athletically, Smallwood may be closer to duplicating what McCaffrey is capable of doing than people realize.

As the season nears, the Eagles will likely rely on Blount to carry the load. However, an exceptional season from Smallwood could be in the works. With the proper coaching, and some luck, the Eagles could end up with something special from a guy they may not be expecting much from.