It surprised many NFL fans when the Tennessee Titans made Washington‘s Bishop Sankey the first running back selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Turn on the film, though, and it’s easy to see why the Titans felt Sankey was the most equipped to become Chris Johnson‘s successor.
Sankey isn’t of the same mold as Johnson; he lacks any elite trait, like Johnson’s world class speed. But the 2013 first-team All-Pac-12 choice is such a natural runner. His superb instincts and vision allow Sankey to find the necessary holes and cutback lanes to make the most of every run. He possesses enough shiftiness to make defenders miss and enough strength to grind out tough yards between the tackles.
Though not as physically gifted as some of the backs drafted after him, Sankey is proficient in most ways. He’s a complete back, capable of becoming the workhorse in Tennessee and capable of legitimately challenging for Offensive Rookie of the Year Award honors.
Sankey’s rookie training camp and preseason will be crucial to his prospects of earning the bulk of the carries for the Titans. Shonn Greene, although a possible cut, is an accomplished veteran who will likely top the depth chart until Sankey earns the coaching staff’s trust.
One factor not working in Sankey’s favor is Washington’s late graduation. The NFL prohibits players from participating in OTAs until they’ve completed their respective semesters, so Sankey will be away from the organization until the club’s June 17-19 minnicamp.
If Sankey proves to be a quick study and exemplifies the traits that made him the top running back taken in May’s draft, most namely tough, instinctive running, he’ll become the Titans’ No. 1 back in no time.
Cody Strahm is an NFL Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.