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  • As the draft approaches, let's take stock of each team’s running back depth chart—taking into account talent, depth, contracts and more.
By Conor Orr
April 05, 2019

We had so much fun ranking the pre-draft quarterback situations of all 32 NFL teams (and reading your feedback) that we decided to open it up to a few different positions in the weeks leading up to the draft. As always, we’re looking at the big picture here, and are including the positional spending relative to the entirety of the team’s active contracts.

Do you think your team should draft a running back at the end of the month? Do you think they shouldn’t? Here’s a look at what we think, with all 32 teams ranked in order of how set they are at the position:

1. New York Giants, $9.8 / $155.7 million 

Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Elijhaa Penny, Paul Perkins, Robert Martin

The Giants are No. 1 by a razor-thin measure, and only because Barkley was the best back in football last season. The scary thing: If Barkley gets hurt, this offense will cave in on itself. If he stays healthy, he could shatter the record books.

2. New Orleans Saints, $5.3 / $166.5 million

Alvin Kamara, Martez Carter, Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington

Kamara carries the load here. From a production standpoint, Latavius Murray can fill the gap left by Mark Ingram’s departure, but will he fit into the offense as well? Regardless, few teams supplement their star back as well as the Saints on a yearly basis (and they can afford to given Kamara’s $807,000 base salary in 2019), which is why Sean Payton seemed to be so upset about losing Ingram in the first place.

3. Carolina Panthers, $6.3 / $195 million

Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne, Reggie Bonnafon, Elijah Hood

McCaffrey was a star last year and is still extraordinarily affordable, with two years left on his rookie deal. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Panthers upgrade a little in the mid rounds, though, even if McCaffrey rarely leaves the field.

4. Dallas Cowboys, $10.8 / $187.6 million

Ezekiel Elliott, Darius Jackson, Jordan Chunn

Significant increases in the receiving game aided Elliott’s 2018 season, though he is about to be very expensive and there isn’t a reliable option to defray his carries heading into the next phase of his career.

 5. LA Rams, $10.5 / $181.6 million

Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis, John Kelly

Gurley’s arthritis scare certainly has everyone on notice, plus the loss of a capable backup like C.J. Anderson doesn’t help them much here. Could Malcolm Brown pace this offense?

6. Denver Broncos, $3.6 / $167.6 million

Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, Khalfani Muhammad 

If you find a Pro Bowler as an undrafted free agent, and supplement him with a bigger-bodied third-round pick capable of giving a breather and grinding time, you’re going to have flexibility in other spots.

7. New England Patriots, $13.1/ $179.7 million

James Develin, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, James White, Brandon Bolden

There are so many perfect pieces to this offense, plus, in Michel, a first- and second-down back who can wreck a game even when teams know what’s coming

8. San Francisco 49ers, $19.1 / $193.1 million

Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Dayes, Matt Breida, Jeffery Wilson, Raheem Mostert, Kyle Juszczyk

The 49ers have made the heaviest investment in 2019 for one team, but it may pay off. From the best value free agent signing on the board in Coleman, to the best fullback in the NFL right now. We haven’t even seen the aggressive Jerick McKinnon in this offense yet, either.

9. LA Chargers, $8.8 /$178.5 million

Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome, Troymaine Pope

Both Gordon and Ekeler had 100-plus attempts and averaged more than five yards per carry last year.

10. Philadelphia Eagles, $5.1 million / $174.2 

Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott, Donnel Pumphrey

This is a lot of talent for $5.1 million. Josh Adams was coming on last year, Corey Clement is a solid receiving option and the Jordan Howard trade continues Howie Roseman’s run of finding high-ceiling backs for low investments.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers, $4.8 / $188.5 million 

James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Malik Williams, Ralph Williams

Conner was fantastic a year ago, and the arrow is pointing up. I tried to figure out a way to move them up, thanks to a strong performance from Jaylen Samuels at the end of last season, but left them here. I’m bullish on this RB room, and they could finish the season as a top five unit. 

12. Cincinnati Bengals, $7.2 / $173 million

Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Mark Walton, Quinton Flowers

In a more imaginative offense, this combination of power and a receiving option should be brought to life. Mixon almost hit five yards per carry last season, and flashed a little more of his receiving ability.

13. Seattle Seahawks, $5.2 / $170.4 million

Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, JD McKissic, CJ Prosise, Bo Scarbrough

Chris Carson topped the 1,000-yard mark in 2018 and, while we haven’t seen the scope of this backfield’s unique skill sets, the expected development of Rashaad Penny should make this a very formidable backfield at an affordable price.

14. New York Jets, $10.4 / $174.2 million

Le’Veon Bell, Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon, De’Angelo Henderson

The big experiment is upon us. Can a team win by spending on a veteran free agent running back? Le’Veon Bell has (mostly) everything he wants now. Will he still be willing and able to touch the ball 300-plus times in 2019?

15. Chicago Bears, $3.9 / $182.5 million

Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall, Taquan Mizzel

Behind Denver, Chicago has maybe the best value backfield in the NFL, and that’s even after shedding a premiere rusher for a sixth-round draft pick. Cohen is a magician in this Andy Reid-inspired Matt Nagy offense, and Mike Davis is primed for a breakout this year (alongside some additions Chicago may make via the draft). 

16. Arizona Cardinals, $11.8 / $159.7 million

David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, TJ Logan, DJ Foster, Brandon Wilds

Johnson is a major unknown after a down year in 2018. While his receiving skills would theoretically suit him well in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, it’s almost impossible to tell how this is going to translate. It’s lazy to assume that Kingsbury didn’t run the ball a lot (he did), and had DeAndre Washington over 1,100 yards in each of his two final seasons in Lubbock.  

17. Atlanta Falcons, $10.1 / $182 million

Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Kenjon Barner, Brian Hill, Jeremy Langford

Coming off a season lost to a groin injury and a new (old) offensive coordinator coming into the fold, it’s going to be an interesting year for Freeman. He’s a 27-year-old entering the last meaty year of his five-year, $41.250 million extension. Ito Smith was a solid backup with a high catch percentage, but Tevin Coleman is a tremendous loss. 

18. Washington Redskins, $9.8/ $184.9 million

Derrius Guice, Samaje Perine, Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Byron Marshall, Russell Hansbrough, Rob Kelley

Everyone (myself included) was wrong about Adrian Peterson a year ago. I’m very excited to see what Washington can do if Guice, who missed his whole rookie year with a torn ACL, has a healthy season as well. This is a tandem that could negate some deficiencies up front, with two backs who are adept at breaking tackles and wearing defenses down physically. 

19. Detroit Lions, $7.8 / $166.2 million

Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson, Zach Zenner, Mark Thompson, Theo Riddick, Kerwynn Williams

The addition of Anderson gives the Lions a Patriots-like cornucopia in their backfield along with Riddick and Zenner. Situationally, this should be one of the harder backfields to account for in the league if new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can get them into open space. 

20. Cleveland Browns, $6.8 (not including Kareem Hunt) / $200 million

Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt (suspended), Duke Johnson, Dontrell Hilliard, Devante Mays

Chubb will be RB1 in Cleveland for the foreseeable future. Kareem Hunt is theoretically in the picture post-suspension (he'll return after eight games) though a lot can happen between now and then. Cleveland looks to be moving on from Duke Johnson as a result of the crowd. Chubb was promising in 2019, and this backfield could eventually be dangerous.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars, $9.1 / $164.5 million

Leonard Fournette, David Williams, Thomas Rawls, Dimitri Flowers

Carlos Hyde was a little expensive to keep, which is understandable, and maybe the addition of Nick Foles makes this offense less reliant on the running back position as a whole. I would still like to see them add a more experienced supplemental back in the draft to challenge Rawls. Fournette also has to clear up a dicey season from a year ago.

22. Tennessee Titans, $9.1 /$187.5 million

Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, David Fluellen, Jeremy McNichols, Dalyn Dawkins 

I would normally give more of a nod to Henry here, as backs who can take over games are still hard to come by. The Titans haven’t found a sweet spot for him, though, and consistency remains an issue.

23. Baltimore Ravens, $6.5 / $152 million

Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, De’Lance Turner, Christopher Ezeala, Tyler Ervin

This is a backfield I expect will improve in the draft. John Harbaugh was clear in his desire to add running backs who can protect the ball and get upfield, especially if Baltimore is all in on this new attack helmed by Lamar Jackson.

24. Green Bay Packers$4.7 million / $181.2 million

Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Tra Carson, Kapri Bibbs, Lavon Coleman

One of the most frustratingly underutilized backfields in the NFL last year could get a makeover in Matt LaFleur’s new offense. I may be underrating Jones a bit, who hit 5.5 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns a year ago.

25. Indianapolis Colts, $2.9 / $187.3 million 

Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams

Mack’s emergence, plus some solid supplemental appearances from Hines, make this a great backfield on a budget. Something tells me Chris Ballard wants a little more juice at the position, though.

26. Minnesota Vikings, $4.3 / $190.6 million

Dalvin Cook, Michael Boone, Ameer Abdullah, Roc Thomas

The idea that Ameer Abdullah could have a bit of a career revival here is attractive. Dalvin Cook went from injured to stuck in an offense that vacated the run too early. He’s undeniably talented but has yet to crack 615 yards and two touchdowns in a season.

27. Kansas City Chiefs, $6.8 / $167.1 million

Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams

Carlos Hyde is a smart addition and a tough runner. The Chiefs are going to need a more diverse weapon set in 2019, though.

28. Houston Texans, $9.3 / $180.2 million

Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Gregory Howell, Josh Ferguson

Miller isn’t cheap and he’s about to turn 28. Maybe this is an unfair placement for a back who nearly had a 1,000-yard season here, but we’re evaluating current situations. What would you rather have right now? Something that may soon need replacing, or something brand new?

29. Buffalo Bills, $15.3 / $164 million

LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, Keith Ford, Senorise Perry

McCoy is great, but this is a ton of money allocated to a 30-plus-year-old running back who has a 35-year-old (albeit, indestructible) backup. Expect the Bills to be involved in the first three rounds on a long-term replacement plan. Josh Allen needs this to thrive. One reason I thought about ranking them higher: Imagine a rookie with upside coming in and watching these two guys work.

30. Oakland Raiders, $6.9 / $166.7 million 

Isaiah Crowell, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Chris Warren, James Butler

This is a smaller backfield that got a little better thanks to the addition of Crowell. Richard is a top receiving back in the NFL and could again haul passes at the rate of a second wide receiver.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $5.3 / $199.2 million

Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, Shaun Wilson, Andre Ellington, Dare Ogunbowale

Peyton Barber led the way with 871 yards and five touchdowns last year (on 3.7 yards per carry). While the Buccaneers were a fundamentally broken team a year ago, they did have a good offensive coordinator in Todd Monken who provided some solid looks. Will Bruce Arians have a major impact here? 

32. Miami Dolphins, $2.9 / $121.3 million

Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage

Drake is heading into year four of his NFL career, with a 644 yard, three touchdown season and a 535 yard, four touchdown season under his belt. Kalen Ballage has upside as a bigger change of pace back and gained more than five yards a carry last season, but the Dolphins round out our list in last place.

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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