Looking at RB Fits in the 2020 NFL Draft

| April 14th, 2020

Running back isn’t one of Chicago’s biggest needs heading into the draft, but they do need to add speed and diversify how they use their backs, so they might look for a player who can combine some of Tarik Cohen’s big-play ability with David Montgomery’s steady presence as a lead rusher.

With that in mind, let’s look at what running backs in the draft could be fits for this offense. Last year I identified four physical characteristics that running backs who thrive in this offense generally share:

  • Short. This is measured through height, which usually comes in at or below the average RB at the Combine (5’10”).
  • Well built. This is measured through weight, which usually comes in at or above the average RB at the Combine (214 pounds).
  • Good acceleration. This is measured through the first 10 yards of the 40 yard dash, which should come in above average (1.59 seconds or better).
  • Explosive. This is usually measured through the vertical and broad jumps, which typically measure out better than the overall RB average of 35″ and 118″, respectively.

Every running back Andy Reid brought in to Kansas City for this offense hit at least 4 of those 5 thresholds (explosiveness has 2). David Montgomery, Chicago’s 3rd round pick last year, hit 3 of 5. So this is clearly a physical profile that the coaches are looking for.

As always, these test results are not a way to say how good or bad a running back will be, but simply if they match the physical characteristics of previous players who have excelled in this offense.

4-5 Thresholds Hit

As was the case with WR (but not TE), this is a physically gifted draft class for running backs. 16 of the 28 who did at least 4 of the 5 tests hit 4 or more of the physical thresholds. They can be seen below, with missed thresholds in red.

A few thoughts:

  • Given Chicago’s long list of needs greater than running back, limited draft capital, and need for speed in the skill positions, I’m going to limit my focus to players who might be available in the later rounds, with an emphasis on those who are fast.
  • One such player is Darrynton Evans, an Appalachian State product who clocked a 4.41 40 at the Combine and, besides being a little light, is a great physical fit for this offense. He’s projected to go somewhere in the 4th or 5th rounds, so he could be an option for the Bears in round 5.
  • Another speedy prospect who could fit the bill is Raymond Calais (4.42 40). He is projected to be a 6th-7th round pick, which likely fits the Bears’ available draft capital better.

1-3 Thresholds Hit

The running backs who hit 3 or fewer thresholds at the Combine are shown below, with misses in red.

A few thoughts:

  • Most of these guys probably aren’t on the Bears radar, though you never know who they’ll take a shot on with a late round pick or UDFA signing.
  • One player who didn’t test but might fit the Bears’ scheme overall is Mike Warren, who’s a punishing inside runner that fits an inside zone scheme – what the Bears run – well. He’s not a great athlete, so I don’t know what he’d offer that David Montgomery doesn’t, but could be a UDFA option as a scheme fit who could potentially provide depth.

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