An honest review of each player
Some teams roll with just a few guys in the backfield. One, three-down starter, a backup, and the backup’s backup who just has a special teams role for the most part. The Eagles, on the other hand, they role with a handful of guys and it’s rare that somebody gets buried for the entire season. One week, somebody could be a fourth-stringer. The next week – they could end up leading the team in carries. It’s a strange strategy, but that’s the way they like it.
So with that being said, let’s look at who the Eagles currently have on board, and evaluate each player with an honest review heading into the draft.
Once upon a time, Jordan Howard was a bell-cow back for the Chicago Bears. Two out of his first three seasons he rushed for well over 1,000 yards. Last year, he fell just shy of that with over 900. Still, more than anybody on the Eagles since the LeSean McCoy days. Howard is a solid back, who is quite dull in a good way. There’s really no flashiness to his game, but he runs hard and fights for the extra yards. He won’t come in and be the Eagles’ three-down back, but he will uplift a committee that clearly needs help.
As I stated earlier, Corey Clement had an impressive rookie season in the rotation, but as he took on a more significant role the following year, he seemingly hit a Sophomore slump. Many believed that Clement had the tools to become a lone star, but it’s apparent that he cannot be the focal point of a backfield. He’s a wildcard. A guy you go to after the other two running backs in front of him wear the defense down. With a stronger backfield in 2019, Clement should be able to get back to his rookie season ways. But first, he has to get healthy.
I’d hate to rag on Wendell Smallwood after his 2018 effort, but this guy is just not it. He had some flashes and was surprisingly productive at times last year, but there’s a reason why Smallwood was left as an inactive on gameday’s when Blount, Ajayi, and Kenjon Barner were still in the picture. Smallwood should absolutely stay on board for all offseason activities, but I’d be surprised to see him make the final 53-man roster this season. If he does, then it would be clear that the Eagles didn’t entirely upgrade their backfield further after the Howard trade.
Josh Adams, an undrafted rookie last season led the Eagles’ backfield in total rushing yards. By the time playoffs rolled around though, the Eagles had ditched him and went with Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Everybody sees a big-bodied back in Adams and expects him to be running people over. Well, he’s never been that type of runner. He’s patient and doesn’t really hit his stride until he gets past the first level. Adams has potential, but it sure seems like the Eagles aren’t all that interested in finding out what his ceiling is. Because once the team figured out that they still had hope for the playoffs, he was left on the shelf.
I’d be surprised if Boston Scott makes the final roster in 2019. If he does, chances are Sproles doesn’t return and Scott is made the permanent punt returner. He didn’t do much for the Eagles last year since he was a late-season acquisition, but he will get an opportunity to prove himself further this year. Nobody should expect much, but sometimes the guys with low expectations can become the most pleasant surprises in football.
Many Eagles fans don’t even know that Donnel Pumphrey is on the roster again. After a rookie season spent on the Injured Reserve, the team gave him a chance to re-introduce himself in the 2018 preseason. Pumphrey was hurt most of the time, and once he got back on the field, he was underwhelming once again. He was cut after the preseason, had a small stint with the Detroit Lions practice squad, then made his way back to the Eagles’. He was once viewed as the ‘next Darren Sproles,’ but Pumphrey is just a less proven Kenjon Barner.