Running backs tend to have easier learning curves from the college ranks to the NFL compared to other skill-position players. We have seen some rookie backs dominate out of the gate in recent seasons.
Don’t expect that to change during the 2020 NFL season. From a young back in Western New York to another coming off a solid season in Northern California, here are five young NFL running backs primed for breakout 2020 seasons.
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
Outside of his own talent, the ability of Josh Allen to make plays with both his feet and his arm will be the biggest instrument to Singletary’s success as a sophomore. Defenses need to concern themselves with Allen’s strong arm and strength as a runner. Those are two huge components for this young back.
As it relates to Singletary, he’s now pretty much going to shoulder the load after sharing duties with Frank Gore last season. The former third-round pick gained 775 yards on the ground at a clip of 5.1 yards per rush as a rookie. He added 29 receptions on 41 targets. Look for an absolutely huge second season from the Florida Atlantic product.
Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
How sold are the 49ers on Mostert? They traded former leading rusher Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins for pennies on the dollar during the 2020 NFL Draft. For good reason. An undrafted free agent from Purdue, Mostert is coming off record-breaking 2019 season for the defending NFC champions.
On his sixth different team during a five-year career, the Purdue product tallied nearly 1,000 total yards and 10 touchdowns at a clip of 6.3 yards per touch last season. He’s now pretty much going to be the featured ball-carrier in a Kyle Shanahan system that has proven to display the talents of its running backs. Watch out.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis got an absolute steal in that of this record-setting former Wisconsin back with the 41st pick in April’s draft. The 5-foot-10, 226-pound Taylor recorded 6,581 total yards and 55 touchdowns at a clip of 6.8 yards per touch in three seasons with the Badgers. After struggling catching passes as a freshman and sophomore, he added that to his game last season to the tune of 26 receptions.
The Colts have another solid back, Marlon Mack, behind new quarterback Philip Rivers. In no way does that mean Taylor won’t be taking over primary ball-carrier duties. A team with Super Bowl aspirations does not exhaust a second-round pick on a running back without him being expected to make an impact. Look for that from Taylor as a rookie in 2020.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
The lesser-known of the two former Penn State backs to enter the league over the past couple seasons, Sanders was an absolute godsend for the Eagles last season. Selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Sanders put up 818 yards on the ground at a clip of 4.6 yards per rush. What makes him so special is a dual-threat ability. Sanders added 60 receptions for 509 yards, finishing his rookie season with 1,327 total yards.
Philadelphia is currently in the market for a backup behind Sanders. As of right now, it has not happened. Either way, we’re fully expecting Sanders to take off even more as a sophomore. It would not be a shock if he went for 2,000-plus total yards for the Eagles in 2020.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
Right up there with Kyler Murray as the top NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate last season, Jacobs did a lot without much help on offense. Derek Carr continued to struggle throwing the ball down the field, leading to stacked boxes against the Raiders’ rushing attack. Despite this, the former first-round pick went for 1,316 total yards at a clip of five yards per rush.
We’re expecting a vastly improved Raiders offensive attack in 2020 after head coach Jon Gruden and Co. added multiple skill-position players during April’s draft. If so, it would not be a shock if this Alabama product went for more than 1,800 yards as a sophomore.