The running back I am most excited to watch in training camp and the preseason is sixth round draft pick Darwin Thompson out of Utah State. While Thompson stands only 5-foot-8 inches tall, he is 200 pounds of solid muscle. Thompson was one of my favorite running back prospects in this entire draft class, and I was thrilled when the Chiefs landed him.
Thompson rushed for 1,044 yards on 153 carries last year for Utah State. That was good for 6.8 yards per carry and was Pro Football Focus number one running back when it comes to their “elusiveness rating”. In simplest terms, this rating shows how well a back created their own yards by making guys miss, breaking tackles, or pushing the pile. Thompson is also another guy that can be a weapon in the passing game coming out of the back field. I think he’s a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s offense.
While I feel pretty confident that Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde will start the season ahead of Thompson and will likely get most of the work early in the season, I actually believe Thompson has the enough upside to earn his way onto the field more and more as the season goes along. If either Williams or Hyde should struggle to be productive, I think Thompson will be quick to steal some (or eventually all) of their reps.
My prediction is that one year from now we are talking about Thompson as either a central part of the rushing attack going into 2020 either as part of a rotation or as the new feature back. Regardless, Thompson is at the top of my list of guys to watch once training camp gets under way.
Finally, lets talk about the rest of the guys fighting to contribute at running back.