It is not always the players taken early in the NFL Drafts who succeed. Rather, sometimes the late picks turn out to be the most impressive.
In the case of Washington Redskins‘ 2012 rookie RB Aflred Morris, this is exactly what happened. Morris was taken in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft — a pick traded from the Minnesota Vikings for previous Redskins QB Donovan McNabb — and signed to a four-year rookie contract for $2.22 million with a $154,000 signing bonus.
As his contract suggests, he was intended to be a backup. In the 2013 NFL Season, he undoubtedly will be the starter.
As the 2012 NFL Preseason started, Morris emerged as competition for the starting job with running backs Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, and Evan Royster. It was not until the day before the Redskins’ first game against the New Orleans Saints that Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan declared Morris would be the starter.
Many people doubted Shanahan’s decision until Morris rushed 28 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. More impressively, in the last game of the regular season, Morris performed in the clutch against the Dallas Cowboys to claim the Redskins’ first NFC East Division Championship Title since 1999 and their first playoff appearance since 2007.
In that game, Morris broke and set two Redskins franchise records, rushing 200 yards on 33 carries and scoring three touchdowns. At the end of the season, he had played in 16 games, rushed for 1,613 yards on 335 attempts and scored 13 touchdowns. With an average of 100.8 yards a game, no Redskins fan can be disappointed with Shanahan’s decision to play Morris as the Redskins starting RB.
If there is any doubt in Redskins fans’ minds about whether Morris will start in the 2013 NFL Season, they should look his standings among other NFL running backs. At the end of the regular season, Morris was second only to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson in total rushing yards, and second only to Houston Texans RB Arian Foster for most rushing touchdowns.
As a rookie, Morris was added to the All-Pro second team and ranked number 64 in NFL Top 100 Players for 2013. All eyes will be on him in the 2013 NFL Season.