10 Running backs that must be placed on the Eagles’ draft board

Nobody wants to see the Eagles march into the 2017 season without solving the riddle at running back.

Certain things were obvious as the 2016 season closed for the Philadelphia Eagles. Quarterback Carson Wentz is no longer a rookie. It would be wise for his team to build around him immediately. Otherwise, they’re going to get the poor guy killed. After setting an NFL record for completions by a rookie, two things were made even more obvious than they had been all season. One, the Eagles have found their quarterback of the future. Secondly, he was asked to do too much in his first year.

It’s been said on more than one occasion that a quarterback’s best friend is an effective ground game. The Eagles had that at times, but the 2016 season taught us a lot. We’ve all figured out the issues with their backfield. Ryan Mathews isn’t a long-term answer. Darren Sproles was overworked and can’t be asked to shoulder the load. Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood, at best, are change of pace backs. Neither can be asked to be too much more than that in this point of their careers.

Here are ten running backs we’ve identified that the Eagles need to place on their draft board (in no particular order)

1. Dalvin Cook, Florida State Seminoles

The Eagles should probably address bigger needs with some of their earlier picks. LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette figures to be off the board early. Would Cook still be available when the Eagles are ready to make a selection? Are the Eagles even interested?

2. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford Cardinal

McCaffrey is the do-it-all type of back that the Eagles had during the days of Brian Westbrook. One concern might be if he was overworked in his time with the Cardinal. He seemed to wear down toward the end of his career.

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3. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee Volunteers

Kamara is exactly what the Eagles have needed at running back for a while. He’s a mixture of speed and power. He possesses the ability to play on all three downs and is a gifted receiver. Expect him to move up draft boards if he has a nice showing at the NFL Combine.

4. D’Onta Foreman, Texas Longhorns

Foreman finished his career with the Longhorns by running for over 2,000 yards. In the process, he found his way into the end zone 15 times. If that isn’t enough reason to be on this list, we don’t know what is.

5. Joe Mixon, Oklahoma Sooners

Mixon is a dual threat who produced 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground and another 449 yards and five touchdowns through the air. He should have plenty of tread left on the tires as he was able to rely on other teammates. That kept him fresh all season.

6. Jeremy McNichols, Boise State Broncos

What Nichols lacked in size, he made up for in effort. He produced more than 2,000 total yards and 27 touchdowns, but you can’t ignore the fact that he’s 5’9 and weighs 212 pounds. The Eagles don’t need more injury concerns.

7. Wayne Gallman, Clemson Tigers

When you share the field with a quarterback like Deshaun Watson and a wide receiver like Mike Williams, you can be forgotten about. Still, Gallman had a productive year with 943 yards and 14 touchdowns.

8. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma Sooners

It’s hard to understand why Oklahoma didn’t have an even better year with what they put on the field. In addition to Joe Mixon, the Sooners enjoyed the efforts of Perine and the ten touchdowns he added while putting up just under 1,000 total yards from scrimmage.

9. Brian Hill, Wyoming Cowboys

Anyone who says they’re retiring from football and then decides to make a comeback will, no doubt, have questions asked about their dedication (even if that had nothing to do with that player stepping away). Put on any tape featuring Hill’s 2016 season, where he put up 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns, and you’ll immediately place any questions about dedication to the side.

10. De’Veon Smith, Michigan Wolverines

Smith, in spite of splitting carries in Ann Arbor, rushed his way to 846 yards and ten touchdowns. He’s the epitome of the “downhill runner” every NFL franchise says they want, and his presence would take a lot of pressure of any quarterback that he plays with.

Honorable Mention: Jamaal Williams of the BYU CougarsMatt Dayes of the N.C. State Wolfpack, Kareem Hunt of the Toledo Rockets and Corey Clement of the Wisconsin Badgers

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