The Seattle Seahawks were fortunate last season to find a reliable alternative at the running back position after Marshawn Lynch struggled with injuries. The team turned to undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls when Lynch was hurt, and Rawls exceeded any and all expectations laid out for him. However, Rawls may not end up having a repeat performance in 2016, as he will be facing stiff competition heading into the season.
Last season, Rawls got seven starts on the year and was terrific during those games. On the year, he totaled 830 yards and four touchdowns while averaging a ridiculous 5.6 yards per carry. He really re-energized the Seattle backfield and was sorely missed by the team after he went out for the season with a broken ankle.
With the retirement of Lynch this offseason, it was expected that Rawls would end up successfully taking over for the veteran once he recovered from his ankle surgery. However, he has struggled to come back from the injury and as of right now, he is expected to miss most of the offseason. Because of this, Rawls is going to miss a lot of training camp and could fall behind other running backs in their competition as the offseason progresses.
The Seahawks already have Christine Michael returning to the team. He has spent multiple years with their organization and, although he did spend most of last year on other teams, he definitely has an edge in learning the playbook. Aside from him, the team drafted two running backs who figure to make an immediate impact.
Both third-round pick C.J. Prosise and fifth-rounder Alex Collins have the skill sets to be at least solid rotational backs at the NFL level. If one could overtake Michael on the depth chart, then they could end up becoming a workhorse back. If I had to bet on one, I would guess that Collins would have a chance to develop into a lead back for the team. He is more of a downhill runner than Prosise, and he has a better chance of being an immediate fit for their running scheme.
Regardless of what happens with the rookies, it is going to be difficult for Rawls to be a workhorse back to start the season. He just will not have enough time to work into game shape once he recovers from his ankle injury. Another back will lead the way in Seattle to start the season.