Pre-Draft Colts Positional Outlook: Running Back

One year after drafting standout running back Jonathan Taylor, the Indianapolis Colts' running back room has the look of the best backfield in football.
Author:
Publish date:

Ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, there might not be a better running backs stable in the National Football League than the one that resides in Indianapolis.

With the likes of Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, and Jordan Wilkins in the fold, the Colts roll four-deep at running back with guys that have a ton of NFL experience and production under their belts.

Since General Manager Chris Ballard came into the mix, the emphasis has been on building up the offensive line and the run game, allowing the Colts to play ball-control offense and bludgeon teams on the ground.

On the roster: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, Darius Anderson, Benny LeMay, Paul Perkins

Pre-Draft need: Low

Taylor burst onto the scene in the second-half of the 2020 season for the Colts, amassing at least 90 yards on the ground in four of the final six games of the season, culminating in a dominant 30-carry, 253-yard, 2-touchdown performance in Week 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The No. 6 all-time leading rusher in college football history and a 2020 Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team member, Taylor is poised to once again carry the load in 2021 for the Colts with Carson Wentz now in the fold.

With a full year of experience under his belt, Taylor should be in line for a monster second season. Should he struggle though, or deal with injuries coming off of a 291-touch rookie season, the Colts are adequately prepared with depth behind him.

Nyheim Hines is arguably the best change-of-pace back in the NFL and reminds many of Darren Sproles with his size, speed, and ability to catch the football out of the backfield. It will be curious to see how Wentz utilizes Hines in his pass-catching role, considering Wentz wasn't much of a check-down guy.

Regardless of how he's used in the passing game, Hines was terrific in limited action giving Taylor a breather, rushing for 380 yards and three scores on the ground in 2020, while hauling in 63 receptions for 482 yards and four scores. There might not be a better dual-threat No. 2 back in football.

Behind those top two, Chris Ballard and the Colts surprised many around the league by inking Marlon Mack to a one-year, $2 million deal early in free agency. Plans were in place for Mack to serve as the mentor to Taylor last season and split the load, but Mack tore his Achilles in the first quarter of Week 1 against the Jaguars on the road, ending any of those plans.

Despite surprising many, the move to bring back Mack makes a ton of sense. He will continue to rehab with doctors and trainers that he knows within the Colts' organization, and gets to work back into the mix at his own pace with the Colts well set ahead of him.

What happens next for the Colts? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Colts news delivered to your inbox daily!

Let's not forget Mack is just one year removed from a 1,000-yard season and looked to be in line for a big payday. Instead, he had to take what he could get and looks to bounce back for the open market after the 2021 season.

Having a guy like Mack in the mix, with his nearly 600-touch experience is a massive get for the Colts in their pursuit of a Super Bowl as a run-first offense.

Then, that leaves Jordan Wilkins, who will run right through defenders and wear front seven guys down in limited action. He's not overly fast, won't make many guys miss and doesn't have the type of short-area burst Taylor, Mack, and Hines have, but Wilkins is a wrecking ball and gives the Colts an option in short-yardage situations.

Keep in mind, Wilkins averages nearly five yards a tote. Having that guy as your fourth running back feels like you're cheating.

Aside from those four, Darius Anderson, Benny LeMay and Paul Perkins provide the Colts with options in the preseason and on the practice squad to limit touches for the top four leading up to the season.

Overall though, this is a terrifyingly deep running backs room that will take a lot of pressure off of Wentz early on in his Colts' career.

Have thoughts on the RB depth chart ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft? Drop a line in the comments section below!


Follow Josh on Twitter @ByJoshCarney.

Follow Horseshoe Huddle on Twitter and Facebook.