The New York Jets need a backup running back, and a good compliment to their running game would be Maryland running back Anthony McFarland.
The NFL is a passing league, but despite the fact that 61.2% of all plays in the league were designed pass plays in 2019, the running back is still an important position. The Jets currently don’t have a viable backup running back to Le’Veon Bell. Enter Anthony McFarland, Jr.
Many fans of the Jets have been intrigued by the prospect, and some even desperately want the Jets to use a mid-round pick on him. So, why is McFarland a dream backup for some? Let’s take a look.
Speed, speed, speed. McFarland is not only a fast back, but he’s got Barry Sanders-esque elusiveness. He has the ability to stop on a dime and change direction, and he’s slippery when defenders attempt to tackle (especially with arm tackles). McFarland also has some ability to be a check-down option out of the backfield. He also has the ability to find the hole and hit it fast.
Don’t expect McFarland to get the tough yards. He is by no means a power runner. In this aspect, he’s a one-dimensional player. He’s a one-trick pony in the running game. McFarland wins with speed and quickness, but nothing else.
There’s also one other problem. McFarland isn’t a three-down back. His route tree is sufficient enough to be a check-down option on the first two downs, but it’s not extensive enough to be moved to the slot or an option out of the backfield on third down.
In addition to that, his blocking leaves a lot to be desired. His technique is terrible, and he doesn’t have the anchor to withstand linebackers in the backfield.
Fit for the Jets
The Jets need a secondary option for Le’Veon Bell, but they could also use a back who could be on the field at the same time as Bell. While McFarland has some deficiencies in the passing game as a blocker, having him in the backfield would allow the Jets to have a second option outside of Jamison Crowder in the slot. Bell is a proficient route runner and can be a second option there.
Bell is a patient runner and can hit the home run occasionally, but McFarland can be a more consistent home run threat out of the backfield and provide the team with multiple dimensions to their game. Having him in the backfield and Bell in the slot could provide the Jets with more mismatches. That would give them more scoring opportunities.
McFarland is a late Day 2 to early Day 3 pick. His limitations in pass protection and as a receiver are the reasons why.