Jordan Howard, running back, Chicago Bears
Most of the talk surrounding rookie running backs last season involved Ezekiel Elliott. And for good reason. Elliott was among the most dominating first-year backs in the history of the NFL, putting up nearly 2,000 total yards and 16 touchdowns for Dallas. Still, there was a lesser-known rookie making his impact known for an otherwise horrible Bears team.
Howard, a fifth-round pick out of Indiana, took on Chicago’s starting role after Jeremy Langford went down to injury in the team’s second game. He responded by putting up 100-plus rushing yards in two consecutive games and didn’t look back. All said, Howard would tally seven 100-yard games en route to gaining over 1,600 total yards. He averaged 5.2 yards per rush and added 29 receptions for good measure.
Now that the Bears have moved on from last season’s disastrous quarterback situation, there’s a good chance Howard will have more help through the air. That will likely come in the form of free agent signing Mike Glennon. Though, if he struggles, rookie No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky could see the field.
The amazing aspect of Howard’s rookie season is that it came with the trio of Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley holding down the fort at quarterback.
That led to teams stacking the box against the run. Despite this, he was still able to put up a Pro Bowl season as a rookie. With what promises to be a better quarterback situation and after having a full offseason of workouts, look for Howard to hit superstardom as a sophomore in 2017.