In recent history, the Kansas City Chiefs have enjoyed a rich history at running back. Before the release of Kareem Hunt, he led the league in rushing as a rookie. Jamaal Charles still holds the NFL record for career yards per carry. And before that, Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes often seemed like they could be unstoppable.
Now entering 2019, the Chiefs have a logjam at running back. This is also a team that now does not have to fully lean on the running back position for the first time in a long while. Despite that, it’s important for Kansas City to surround quarterback Patrick Mahomes with more swift running backs who will do more in the open field rather than between the tackles. For the most part, that is what the Chiefs running back depth chart looks like right now. Let’s take a look at this crowded running back room.
This week at team OTAs, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was clear when saying “Damien Williams is our starter. We expect him to excel in that role.” While the Chiefs could still use a “running back by committee” approach, there is no denying that Damien Williams earned the starting job. After the Kareem Hunt release, Williams compiled 384 rushing yards, 233 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns in seven games including the playoffs. What made Williams good was the tenacious style that he would run with in the open field. He has the strong history and results as a receiving back and could possibly be the top pass blocking back on the team.
Hyde comes to Kansas City on a one year deal for 2019. We saw how productive he could be in San Francisco. During that time, Hyde had around 3,000 scrimmage yards and 20 total touchdowns. With the Cleveland Browns last season, things started off well for him. Then the Browns saw that they wanted to give more touches to Nick Chubb. So even though he played well in a good handful of games with Cleveland, Hyde was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. While in Duvall, Hyde did not see the field as often and the results were slim to none. Now this season, he’s part of some tight competition in the running back room of a Super Bowl contending team.
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Darrel Williams had a strong preseason showing last year as an undrafted free agent signee. Those results led to him making the team for the regular season. Even though he did not see the field until after the Hunt release, Darrel Williams provided a nice change of pace to Damien Williams and Spencer Ware. Darrel actually found a role as the ball carrier to run out the clock late in games where the Chiefs were leading. He even found the end zone in the Chiefs playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts. Will his role be increased in 2019? We’ll just have to watch and see.
Darwin Thompson was a 6th Round draft pick by the Chiefs in this year’s NFL Draft. Thompson has electrifying tape from his time at Utah State. As much of a speed demon as he is, there is a chance for him to reach the role of third down back for Kansas City at some point this season. Thompson seems to be just as well suited to be a receiving back, if not more than a pure rusher.
James Williams signed as an undrafted free agent following this year’s NFL Draft. Williams is a prospect I thought Kansas City could have been interested in. Fortunately for them, they were able to sign him quickly after the draft concluded. Williams really shined at Washington State by being elusive in space and forcing defenders to miss on tackles. He is another player who can really make a larger impact as a receiving back compared to a rusher.
Marcus Marshall was also an undrafted free agent signing like James Williams. Marshall enjoyed a couple of steady years at Georgia Tech in 2015 and 2016 compiling over 6.5 yards per carry in both seasons. He then moved on to James Madison University. While there, Marshall grew as a receiver becoming more of a dual threat. He will need to show some flashes to have a chance at making the team obviously. But there is an upside of Marshall providing a dual threat style.
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– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.