The Jets had two consistent running backs this year, but they are who they are. Combined, they rushed for 1,530 yards on the season. LeSean McCoy had more yards (1,607 yards) by himself. Now that’s not a slight on the running backs, as it is just as much on the offensive line as the backs. Bilal Powell is a North and South runner who will make the first tackler miss, but he’s not a fast shifty back. Powell had 36 receptions for 272 yards during the year but doesn’t possess the breakaway speed to be a major ran after catch threat. Chris Ivory, with a history of injury, played in 15 games this year. At times, he showed the ability to break tackles and be a tough back to bring down. His feet are always moving and he runs the ball hard. However, there’s no telling if a back that plays with Ivory’s physicality will last the whole season and he brings nothing to the passing game with two receptions last year. Mike Goodson showed a bit of his potential in the two games he played prior to tearing his ACL last year. With the pending litigation against Goodson, it seems the Jets may look to part ways with the fifth year back.
The Jets have been rumored to be looking for a “third down scat back” in the draft. By this, they mean they need a versatile back that is shifty in the run game and have the ability to separate and make plays in the passing game. It can be argued that the Jets haven’t had a player that has these attributes since Leon Washington. Teams have been avoiding taking running backs in the first round because of their statistically short career expectancy and don’t want to invest a ton of money in a player that may only be around for three years.
2014 NFL Draft Running Backs that fit the Jets needs:
Charles Sims – West Virginia (6’0″, 215)
- Sims is a very physical running back. He has tremendous speed and explosiveness for a back of his size. He tends to run the ball a little too tall, but that is a coachable issue. His best asset is his ability to use his size in the passing game. He caught 45 balls this year for West Virginia, most of them on out-of-backfield swing routes, but he made some really nice catches using a great vertical leap and his physical nature. He is also an excellent pass blocker. He attacks pass rushers at the point of attack, which shows he has confidence he can pick up a blitz and keep the quarterback upright. He’s the best fit for the all around back that the Jets need. He is currently on a second or third round grade, which makes it realistic for the Jets to explore.
Ka’Deem Carey – Arizona (5’10″, 207)
- Carey is the best back in the draft. He can run it between the tackles and has the ability to get to the edge and make people miss. He also has outstanding hands catching 26 passes last season for 173 yards. He rushed for over 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. He’s expected to run the 40 yard dash in around 4.5, so he would need to show an improvement in his straight line speed. He would be a nice fit as a third down back while improving his vision and speed. He will most likely be taken towards the end of round one, which would be after the Jets select at 18, but running backs often slip so he could be a available in round two.
Bishop Sankey – Washington (5’9″, 205)
- If there’s a back similar to Giovanni Bernard, last year’s second round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s Sankey having a small frame but shifty and lightning fast. At 205 pounds he should run the 40 in the 4.45-4.5 range. He is a tough runner up the middle, has great quickness and can pass block as well. Sankey has very good hands catching the ball out of the backfield. The Jets removed the screen game from their offensive playsheet as the season went on because coordinator Mornhinweg most likely felt, especially with the loss of Goodson, the team didn’t have a viable running back who could be successful on those types of plays. One of the best thing about Sankey is his durability never missing a game during his collegiate career. He can be a three down back going forward, but for now, he may be a nice supplement to Ivory and Powell, especially in third down passing situations.
Other all-purpose backs options:
- Lache Seastrunk (Baylor)
- DeAnthony Thomas (Oregon)
- Jeremy Hill (LSU)
- Tre Mason (Auburn)
Ivory Injury Insurance Backs:
Andre Williams – Boston College (6’0″, 227)
- Although injured right now, Williams was a Heisman Trophy candidate this year. He runs with such a low pad level, making him very hard to tackle. He has the ability to run over a defender, but the strength to stiff arm and get to the outside. It takes him a little time to get going, but once he’s started he shows some burst at the line of scrimmage. He’s not a great pass blocker or pass catcher, which pigeon-holes him into strictly being an old school running back who can “ground and pound” but doesn’t offer much in the passing game. His physicality make him an obvious backup plan if Chris Ivory happened to get hurt.
Terrance West – Towson (5’11″, 223)
- West is from little-known Towson University, who had a very successful season making it to the FCS National Championship game. A bruiser, who like Williams, runs with a low pad level West has the ability to rip off four yards per carry. He is slightly faster than Williams but lacks elite speed (as most big backs do) and is a likely target for teams needing a downhill back. In this day and age in the NFL downhill backs are not used quite as often, but seeing West play, he does have the ability to get to the numbers and make people miss. He shows tremendous patience, waiting for holes to open up and will make the first guy miss quite often. He’s another workhorse, carrying the ball 21 times per game, and rushed for 42 touchdowns. West gets a 3rd round grade in my opinion, and may need to get brought along slowly at the NFL level as NFL defenses are a little different from the University of Richmond.
Other options as Ivory insurance: Carlos Hyde (Ohio State), James Wilder Jr. (Florida State), David Fluellen (Toledo)