It is one of the most important positions on the field, but it also has the shortest shelf life for any position in the NFL. Basically, it’s very hard to keep a great Running Back with any team in the modern league.
The position is highly interchangeable due to the punishment these men receive. An every down, hard nose RB that can pound the ball between the tackles at 4 yards a pop is almost ancient NFL history. The need for speed in the NFL has created the opportunity for multiple backs to make a name for themselves, as fresh legs and different running styles can increase big play potential.
The Bills are one team that has held two great backs in their backfield for a while now. Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller are the most recent dynamic duo in Buffalo, with Freddy slashing through the tackles and CJ burning up the sideline we have plenty of potential fireworks to see from these two guys next year.
The problem is next year is the only guarantee for these two stars. CJ will have option to void the last year of his contract and leave Buffalo after 2014, and Fred is reaching “grandpa status” for a running Back at 34 years old. Jackson has had a tough time keeping his legs healthy the past few season, but the man is a true grinder and has always toughed it out while remaining a playmaker even if he is hurt.
Everyone knows that Fred is getting older, but he also looks just as strong as ever when he’s 100%. A complete football player that can block well, catch the ball exceptionally well, and close a game out while handing him the rock. I would not be surprised if Fred still has 2-3 SOLID years left in the tank.
Spiller’s contract issues are one for concern, as he becomes more known as an explosive threat. If he was to opt out for a more money or for a better team, it wouldn’t be the first time the Bills lost a great draft pick after their rookie contract expired.
Let’s not forget about the free agent pickup that the Bills made at RB already in Anthony Dixon. He’s only 26 years old, and he is a big back at 6’1″ and 233 lbs. If you ever caught any 49ers games where he got any touches, you might already know that the he can run hard. This may be the surprise fill in for the RB depth chart, working out a lot better than most Bills fans expect.
With Chris Johnson on the free agent market, some experts see Buffalo as a fit for him. This is not the case, for Chris Johnson or Buffalo. Johnson is a player that has several good years left in him and he would not get the touches he is worthy of getting if he was a Bill. The Bills already have a good problem in finding who to give the ball to from the backfield with their current 3 play making backs.
As far as finding another running back in the draft, it’s never a bad idea. This years RB draft class offers a great list of names that are out shadowed by an even better QB and DL class.
Some players that could transition into very good backs in the NFL are Carlos Hyde (OSU), Tre Mason (Auburn), Jeremy Hill (LSU), and Andre Williams (BC). These players are projected to go in the second to third round, with some that could very well slip into the fourth.
The need for a RB is not a huge one at this very moment for the Buffalo Bills. With the addition of some more first round talent on the offensive line the running game should see a significant increase in production next season, regardless of who is running the ball.
Look for CJ to easily get back to 1,000+ yards and Fred to have yet another 1,000+ total yards from scrimmage, and Dixon to pound the football in for at least 4 goal line TD’s next season.
Following the 2014 season the need for a running back will increase tremendously. If the Bills draft another RB in the middle of this years draft to develop for the future then that need will be much smaller. We will just have to wait and see what happens, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.