Starting this week, Arrowhead Pride will be doing an analysis for each position group on the Kansas City Chiefs roster. We start with the running backs.
Of course, Kansas City's best running back is very well-known as a two-time pro bowler in Jamaal Charles. It's hard to make a case that Charles isn't the best weapon not only only on the Chiefs, but in the AFC West save Peyton Manning.
However, is the depth behind Charles adequate? If Charles gets hurt as he did in 2011, can Kansas City still field an explosive backfield or at least a back with some legitimate talent?
Let's take an in-depth look:
Last season, Jamaal Charles was the unquestioned starter with Peyton Hillis backing him up. Charles came off a torn ACL and was everything Chiefs fans hoped for, rushing for 1,509 yards on 5.3 yards per carry while scoring five touchdowns.
Hillis was far less effective, amassing a disappointing 309 yards. Now Hillis is gone, replaced by third-round pick Knile Davis from Arkansas. As has been discussed repeatedly here, Davis has elite skills but a major fumbling problem and an injury history.
An early depth chart might look like this: Charles, Gray, Draughn, Davis.
We can count on...
There will be more receptions this year from the running backs. Under Romeo Crennel, the team was allergic to playing offense that included gaining yards. With Andy Reid at the helm, the backs will be swinging out of the backfield to catch passes in the flat and on screens.
Last year, the running backs combined for 71 catches. In Philadelphia, the backs caught 76 passes. It may not seem like a big difference, but considering how much better the Chiefs line is compared to the Eagles, and you should expect the Chiefs running backs to catch more passes this season.
The biggest area of concern from this group
If Charles gets hurt, there is no proven player behind him. Davis has talent, but he's never played in an NFL game and could be a total bust. Draughn has shown to be serviceable in a pinch, but he's not somebody you want carrying the workload.
Gray is a complete unknown, although he did show some ability in the preseason. Of course, Bobby Sippio also showed ability in the preseason.
Charles will rush for over 5.0 yards per carry and 1,500 yards again. It's probably not going out on a limb, but what else is there to say here? Outside of Adrian Peterson, Charles is the best running back in football. (Pro Football Focus disagrees.) If healthy, Charles is going to be one of the greats; he's that good.
Charles will also catch 50+ passes this season for the first time in his career under Reid.
My other prediction? The rest of this group won't combine for 500 yards of total offense.