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2019 NFL Draft: Replacing Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy

Mid- and late-round options pepper this scouting report, but some could sneak up to the top of the second round.

LeSean McCoy experienced a massive drop in production during the 2018 season, setting career lows in nearly every statistical category. Whether that was due to atrocious blocking, or hitting the proverbial running-back age wall, Bills general manager Brandon Beane would be foolish not to prepare for the inevitable. McCoy is not long for this team and whether that transition happens this offseason or the next, it’s worth looking towards the future.

The 2019 NFL Draft’s running-back class looks average on the surface, as there are few surefire franchise players, but there is plenty of depth. As is frequently the case with running backs, some of the middle-round prospects may likely prove to be more impactful and productive than their draft slot would indicate.

Tier I

David Montgomery (Iowa State)
Josh Jacobs (Alabama)
Rodney Anderson (Oklahoma)
Darrell Henderson (Memphis)

It will be mildly surprising to see any of these four players drafted in the first round—none of them offer the upside of, say, Saquon Barkley—but it won’t be out of the question for them to come into the league and be productive starters. Montgomery is a solidly built tailback who’s too shifty for linebackers and too big for defensive backs to bring down by themselves. He doesn’t have third-gear speed, but he’s everything you want in a workhorse. Jacobs hasn’t announced his intentions to enter the draft, but anyone who watched the College Football Championship knows he’s ultra-talented. He’s as shifty as they come, and never, ever goes down on first contact. He also demonstrated that he can be a weapon in the passing game, with wide receiver-like hands. It’s unfortunate that Anderson tore his ACL early in the season, because he has the highest ceiling of any running back on this list. His straight-line speed is perhaps the best in the class and his ability to cut once and get upfield is unparalleled. However, any team that drafts him is taking on a major injury risk. Henderson was the most productive and elusive back in the country who’s just waiting for a team to take advantage of his talents in the passing game.

Tier II

Devin Singletary (Florida Atlantic)
Damien Harris (Alabama)
Mike Weber (Ohio State)
Trayveon Williams (Texas A&M)

With his patience, vision and ability to jump cut, Singletary would fit very well in a zone scheme and has been pegged by analysts as a sleeper in this class. Although he’s more experienced and runs with ferocity, Harris is much more of a north-south runner and doesn’t offer upside as a pass catcher in the way his former teammate Jacobs does. Weber’s vision is his best quality, but he goes down much too easily and also carries injury risk. A player who might be a better fit for a man-blocking scheme, it’s not clear that Williams has the frame for such a transition.

Tier III

Bryce Love (Stanford)
Miles Sanders (Penn State)
Myles Gaskin (Washington)
Benny Snell (Kentucky)
Justice Hill (Oklahoma State)

Love is an enigma at the position. He’s fast, but not shifty. He’s tough, but not big. Both Sanders and Gaskin can do a lot of things well, but don’t really excel in any one area. Snell is a power runner, one who can push the pile and run through contact. He’s a plodder in the open field, however, and will invite comparisons to a less-talented LeGarrette Blount. It will be difficult for Hill to convince teams that he can be anything more than a third-down back, considering he’s listed at 5’10” and 190 pounds.

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