Last offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles were able to move DeMarco Murray’s contract and pawn him off to another team. With the departure of Murray, the Eagles were left with a hole at the lead running back spot heading into the NFL draft with only Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, and Kenjon Barner on the roster.
The Eagles addressed the position in the fifth round selecting West Virginia’s Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood, who showed that he could run and catch the ball in college was a factor in Doug Pederson’s offense this season.
However, it looks as if last offseason’s scenario may be playing out this offseason as the Eagles will most likely move on from Mathews, who has had trouble holding onto the ball and with injuries.
Whenever the Eagles do release Mathews, they will be without a starting, workhorse running back. Luckily for them, this year’s draft class is loaded with running backs and the Eagles can wait until the later rounds to grab one. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is a perfect fit for what the Eagles do on offense.
Cook is an electrifying player, but the Eagles have other glaring holes at wide receiver and cornerback that need to be addressed. If the Eagles do draft a cornerback with their first round pick, it opens up the door for them to draft a running back in the later rounds. One running back, who will be there on Day 2 or 3 and fits what the Eagles do on offense is Toledo’s Kareem Hunt.
Hunt is a physical running back, who does not go down on the first hit, rather he is delivering the hit. The 6-foot, 215-pound back is a workhorse. Over his four-year career at Toledo, Hunt carried the ball 782 times for 4,945 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Did I mention, he only fumbled the ball once in his four-year career and he recovered it?
He is the total opposite of Mathews, which should give Eagles fans some joy. Outside of the statistics, when you turn on the film, you see why draft analysts like Hunt’s game. He is a tough runner that has good balance and Marshawn Lynch type qualities.
As the first .gif shows opposing defenses cannot take Hunt down by his legs. If they try too, he’ll just bounce off them, keep his balance, and keep chugging along. In the GoDaddy Bowl against Arkansas State, Hunt ran over the Red Wolves’ defense to the tune of 271 rushing yards on 32 carries and five touchdowns.
One reason why Hunt could be a good fit in the Eagles’ offense is that he can run in between the tackles and does a good job of following his blocks. Could you imagine him running behind the likes of Jason Peters or Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson and accelerating to the next level? He has the speed and vision to do that, especially in the open field.
The second .gif shows how Hunt accelerates once he gets into the open field and uses a nice cutback move to get away from the Arkansas State defender. He can cutback and change direction in one motion to pick up more yards.
The last reason why Hunt is a solid fit for Pederson’s offense is that over his college career, he has shown that he can catch the ball out of the backfield. In his first three seasons at Toledo, Hunt never finished with 100 plus receiving yards in a season. However, that changed this past season as he had 41 receptions for 403 yards and a touchdown.
The final .gif shows off Hunt’s receiving skills as he takes a swing pass for a touchdown. Hunt will not wow you with his speed by any means, but he is still a playmaker that defenses must pay attention to.
If the Eagles can grab Hunt in the later rounds, he would be an excellent 1-2 combo with Smallwood and perfect for the Eagles’ running back by committee philosophy. Could he someday be a three-down back? Without question as Hunt proved in college that he can carry a large load. However, with the Eagles, he will not have to do that immediately.
It is proven in the NFL that you do not need to draft a running back in the first round to be successful. The Eagles can continue that philosophy by drafting another late round running back in this year’s draft to pair with Smallwood for many years to come.