There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Redskins running backs heading into the season. For a team with a once very proud tradition of sledgehammer-type workhorse backs, this year's squad is a bit light on both experience and production.
That doesn't mean, however, that there is not potential on the roster.
At 6'2" and 230 plus pounds, Matt Jones combines solid speed and athleticism with excellent size. His style of running is one that looks to initiate contact with linebackers and defensive backs, and his speed can help him get the edge against bigger defensive linemen and linebackers. Furthermore, his receiving stills out of the backfield are well above average, and he poses a threat to take it to the house from just about anywhere on the field.
Jones' issues however, come two-fold. First, because of his size, he's a very upright runner. As is often the case with taller backs, the higher center of gravity makes them more prone to fumbling, as their higher pad level allows smaller defenders to get underneath them. We saw this from Jones during his rookie year, and this, combined with his tendency to carry the ball a bit low, caused some fumbling issue. Now, all is not lost, as this is a very correctable flaw that is more mental at this point. Second, is his history of injury. He tore a meniscus as a sophomore at Florida, causing him to miss 8 games. He came back from his injury as a junior, and had a solid, but not spectacular, junior season. As a rookie for the Redskins, he missed some games last season due to toe and hip issues.
Jones is will have to show coaches this preseason that he's over the fumbling issue that plagued him his rookie season. He'll also have to take better care of his body, and prepare more adequately for the rigors of a full 16 game season. A player best ability is availability, and Jones needs to prove to coaches, teammates, and himself, that he can be there for a full season.
Behind Jones, is the explosive third-down back Chris Thompson. Much like Jones, Thompson possesses great ability as a receiver out of the backfield. Unlike Jones, Thompson's size(5'8" 195), limits the type of pounding he can take as an every-down back in the NFL. The former Florida State Seminole had his best season as a pro in 2015, playing in 13 games, and tallying 216 yards on just 35 rushing attempts, while grabbing 35 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Despite his size, Thompson is an excellent blocker, which is very important on passing downs for a running back in the league. If Thompson can stay healthy, look for him to expand on the third-down role this season, and even see some regular carries to spell Jones.
The remainder of the Redskins running backs are a bit of a mixed bag, with very little NFL experience.
The back with the most potential of the group may be 7th round rookie Keith Marshall. The 5'11" 222 pound former 5-star recruit from Georgia, possess elite speed, good lateral agility and great hands. The question mark surrounding him is durability, as he suffered a serious knee injury in college, and has never been quite the same. While the speed has never left him, his ability to plant and cut laterally has been questioned by NFL scouts. If Marshall can have himself a nice training camp, and establish himself as a serious player on the depth chart, he is poised to make an impact with the team this fall.
Second year player Mack Brown, and rookies Robert Kelly and Kelsey Young round out the remainder of the corps.
As as you can see, it's not a very heralded group, and there are far more question marks than their are answers at this point. Preseason games should provide some insight as to the direction this group could potentially take this season, but coaches have to be very skeptical of the overall product.
The question has been brought up if the Redskins should sign a veteran running back, or even trade for a younger guy who may have fallen out of graces with his current team.
Below is a list of potential remaining free agents and some possible trade targets for you to mull over.
Free Agents RB's:
Possible Trade Targets:
Should the Redskins roll with what they have at running back, or should they try to add some help via a street free agent or trade?