2015 Falcons: Running Backs
Continuing our look at where the Falcons roster could be come 2015 after giving an overview of the quarterback position, it’s time to move on to the running backs.
The Falcons managed to replace Michael Turner with their 2013 second round pick out of Michigan State Le’Veon Bell. Bell’s combination of size, speed, and ability to be an everydown back made him an attractive option in Koetter’s offense. Bell becomes the Falcons third foray into the Michigan State family at the running back position, having picked up disappointments like T.J. Duckett and DeAndra Cobb in previous drafts. But Bell does not disappoint, rushing for nearly a thousand yards in his first year. He follows that up with a strong 2014 season, finishing among the Top 7 rushers in the league. Most project 2015 to be a potential Pro Bowl season for Bell as he vies with LeSean McCoy, Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Marcus Lattimore, David Wilson, DeMarco Murray, and Doug Martin as one of the premier backs in the NFC.
Behind Bell is the trusty Jacquizz Rodgers, now entering his fifth season in the NFL, where he is considered one of the league’s top third down backs. While Bell gets the bulk of the carries, most experts feel that Rodgers’ versatility and consistency as a situational back is the true X Factor in the Falcons offensive attack, drawing comparisons akin to how Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles have fit in New Orleans in recent seasons.
Still manning the fullback is solid, but unspectacular Bradie Ewing who has carved out a nice niche as one of the better blocking fullbacks in the league. Ewing doesn’t get a ton of reps rushing or catching the ball, but is steady producer when it comes to leading Bell and Rodgers through holes. 2015 marks the final year of Ewing’s contract, but all expectations are that the Falcons are going to lock him up to a long-term extension after the season that will make him one of the five highest-paid fullbacks in the NFL.
As for current Falcons, Turner’s last year with the Falcons was in 2012. And the team also opted not to bring back 31-year old free agent Jason Snelling in 2015, who gave the team two solid years of backup production beyond 2012.