It took a record 54 picks for a running back to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. That should come as no surprise, as the RB situation for most teams seems to be set, and no back seems to be worth replacing this year. That is, except for the Tennessee Titans, who lost Chris Johnson to the New York Jets in free agency. Johnson saw himself to three Pro Bowls and amassed near 10,000 yards from scrimmage — rushing for at least a thousand yards each of his seven seasons.
So why not draft CJ2K 2.0 to run behind first-round pick, OT Taylor Lewan? That player is Washington Huskies RB Bishop Sankey. Sure, his 40-yard dash time is 0.2 seconds off of Johnson’s, but he picks up the slack in every other category.
Sankey was a top performer among running backs in the bench press, broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle — nothing to be ashamed of there. He proved that he has the near-agility that Johnson possessed, but adds the power Johnson lacked. Even though Johnson lacked power, he was still able to be an every-down back for the Titans, and with Sankey’s strength, I can see new coach Ken Whisenhunt making him a workhorse.
In his three-year career at Washington, Sankey proved that he has great ability to make every play an exciting one, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. But that was not due to a low rate of carries. It was his speed that allowed him to bounce out to the sides well, and his Darren Sproles-esque stature and strength made defenders fight to bring him down. He proved to be an every-down back last season, taking in over 300 carries, nearing 2,000 yards and scoring a punishing 20 TDs. Impressive to say the least.
In Johnson’s rookie campaign, he took in 250 carries while only taking in 236 in his senior year at East Carolina. So nothing concerns me that Sankey can’t take the work load that Johnson had on his shoulders.
I know I had previously wrote that rookie running backs are going to struggle this season, and I still stand by that. But Sankey is the exception. He may not be Johnson, but with his strength and agility, I predict we’ll be seeing Sankey produce like Sproles … but on a starter’s basis. The Titans and Sankey seem to be a great match. He could easily be the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a Pro Bowl would not be out of the question.