It's hard to believe the Denver Broncos thought David Williams was a better option than Phillip Lindsay. After all, Denver drafted Williams out of Arkansas in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, while Lindsay out of Colorado plummeted entirely out of it.
In that sense, it's apropos not to give the Broncos as a team all that much credit for the emergence of Lindsay. All 32 teams passed on Lindsay seven times on draft day, which of course includes the Broncos.
He wasn't even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine last year. It's hard to believe. All of this serves as the explanation as to why Lindsay has a world-sized chip on his shoulder.
Not only did he make the Broncos' 53-man roster out of training camp, he totaled more than 100 yards from scrimmage in the season-opener last year. By midseason, Lindsay was the Broncos' starting running back and he would go on a romp down the stretch that would not only see him eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark but also earn an unprecedented Pro Bowl selection as an undrafted rookie.
All in, Lindsay totaled 1,037 rushing yards in 2018 to represent the second-most yards by an undrafted rookie (since the 1970 NFL merger), to go along with double-digit touchdowns from scrimmage.
Lindsay's second year hasn't been quite as explosive or prolific. But as the heart and soul of the Broncos offense, he's still poised to achieve some new feats in the season-finale, if the big boys upfront can help pave the way.
As it stands, Lindsay is 42 yards away from another 1,000-yard rushing season. With the Oakland Raiders coming to town, 'the Colorado Kid' would become the first undrafted player in NFL history to begin his career with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons if he remains on his current pace of 63.8 rush yards per game. The last time Lindsay faced Oakland in Denver, he eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career.
That was last year. Lindsay's second year has been just as historic. In Week 9 vs. Cleveland, he became the fifth Broncos running back to reach 2,000 scrimmage yards for his career by his 24th game. Lindsay has also recorded the fourth-most scrimmage yards (2,432) for a Broncos running back through the first 30 games of his career.
Earlier this season, Lindsay joined Clark Gaines (NYJ, 1976-77) as the only undrafted players (regardless of position) in NFL history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in each of his first two seasons in the common draft era.
On top of it all, Lindsay is tied for first among second-year players in career rushing touchdowns (16) since the start of 2018. Lindsay is tied with the likes of Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb, both of whom were drafted in the premium rounds, with the former going No. 2 overall.
The Pro Bowl isn't an option for Lindsay this year, mostly because of the low-profile of his team and the fact that his rushing yards per game haven't been at the same pace as that of his rookie campaign and that of his peers across the AFC. However, it'd be quite the consolation prize to see Lindsay break the 1,000-yard barrier again, because he would become the first undrafted player in league history to eclipse that mark in each of his first two seasons.
The Broncos' O-line will be hell-bent on helping Lindsay get there and you know the firecracker that he is won't let up until he gets over the hump. All he needs is 42 yards.
“It’s special. It is special, but the biggest thing—and I think the more special thing about that is I see a team that’s coming together, that’s building off something and that’s going to be great for next year," Lindsay said earlier this week. "I think overall, other than just the 1,000 yards, I’m excited about the team and what’s to come.”
Lindsay's rookie season was cut short by a game and a half after he suffered a wrist injury in Week 16 vs. the Raiders. When it comes to slights and beefs, Lindsay has the memory of an elephant, which leaves little doubt in this writer's mind that he'll get the yards he needs to own that record and send the Raiders home 7-9 on the season and without a playoff berth.
If Lindsay pulls it off, he'll join Bobby Humphrey (1989-90), Terrell Davis (1995-98), Clinton Portis (2002-03) as just the fourth player in Broncos history to produce back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.