In last month’s NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles did the complete opposite of what everybody thought they would do and did not take a running back. Leading up to the draft, many analysts had the Eagles taking LSU’s Derrius Guice in the first round, who ultimately fell to the second round to the Washington Redskins.
After the draft, Eagles attacked the undrafted free agent market and signed former Notre Dame running back Josh Adams. Also on that same day, the team announced that they re-signed veteran Darren Sproles to a one-year deal.
With Sproles back in the fold, the Eagles’ top three running backs seem to be in place with Corey Clement and Jay Ajayi leading the committee.
Eagles’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman was not done, however, as the team signed former Washington Redskins’ bruising back Matt Jones to a two-year deal. Philadelphia is hoping that Jones can fill the role that LeGarrette Blount played last season, which helped them ultimately to win a Super Bowl.
Despite the additions of Adams and Jones, there are still two other running backs on the roster, who are looking to stake their claim to make the team. Those two backs are Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey.
Smallwood was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft and has struggled to see the field. Pumphrey was drafted last year in the fourth round, but was placed on injured reserve due to poor play.
“I have to play better or else my job will not be here,” Pumphrey said to Ed Kracz of The Eagles Wire. “It’s definitely an interview here every day. These guys (the coaching staff and front office personnel) are watching every move, so whether it’s off the field or whether it’s in the building, you have to stay on top of your stuff.”
What can the Eagles do about this situation? Not much as of right now. They have to let things play out in training camp and in the preseason. Nevertheless, it is a good spot to be in because you can never have too many running backs in the NFL.
One has to believe that the last spot for the fourth running back job will come down to Jones, Adams, Smallwood, or Pumphrey. Each of these guys does one thing really well that can help the Eagles this upcoming season.
Smallwood and Pumphrey should have the inside track to winning the spot as they both can help out on return duties. However, Adams is an intriguing prospect too, and the Eagles have shown that they are willing to give UDFAs a shot, just look at Clement.
The Warrington, Pa. native had an outstanding junior season at Notre Dame with 1,430 yards on 206 carries and nine touchdowns. He has a nice mixture of size and speed, which could also make him a candidate for the practice squad if either of the other guys mentioned performs well.
It is the little things that mean the most and could determine who will be a Philadelphia Eagle on Sept. 6.