With veteran running back Ryan Mathews likely to be released by the Philadelphia Eagles before the start of the 2017 season, the Philadelphia Eagles will have a lot of youth to search through in order to find it’s starter for 2017. While rookies Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement will likely battle for roles with the team, it is expected that Wendell Smallwood will lead the pack as they enter the 2017 season.
Leading the team as their change of pace back, Darren Sproles will maintain his role from last season in what will be his final NFL season. With Smallwood being an above average runner, he appears to have the skill and talent necessary to at least anchor the Philadelphia Eagles backfield for this season. After all, the team may not have another choice.
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The second year player is really the only one with the experience necessary to lead the backfield this season. Despite this being just his second season in the NFL, Smallwood did play in 13 games last season for Philadelphia, putting up solid numbers throughout. If Smallwood can replicate those stats with a bigger workload, he could even find himself as one of the better backs in the league this season.
Recording only 77 rushes last season, Smallwood did put up a solid 4.1 yards per rush average. Totaling 312 yards rushing, Smallwood also added six receptions for 55 yards and one rushing touchdown. While the numbers aren’t great, they are good for the workload that Smallwood had last season.
Outside of Smallwood, the only two real options the Eagles could consider is in Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement. The two rookies present solid college runners that are both looking to make the jump to the NFL. That said, both are extremely raw with Pumphrey being a day three pick of the Eagles while Clement was added as an undrafted free agent following the NFL Draft.
With the situation at running back firmly up in the air, it really is anybody’s guess who will come out on top. However, as of right now, Wendell Smallwood must be considered the favorite to land the starting job in Philadelphia as of this moment in time.