There’s nothing more disappointing than when an athlete puts their career in serious jeopardy with some type of an off-the-field incident. Beyond just that, it’s incredibly unfortunate and distasteful when it involves domestic violence. On Friday afternoon, the football world and the sports world were shocked to see a video released by TMZ that showed Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt involved in an altercation with a woman in a hotel.
With the video release and the news making headlines everywhere, Hunt was dismissed from the Chiefs’ practice facility on Friday. As the speculation began to build about what the Chiefs might do with Hunt, they ultimately made the shocking but correct move by releasing him. If you’re looking for some in-depth conversation about what I think about the whole thing, you’ve come to the wrong place. What Hunt did was horrific. There’s a chance he doesn’t play again, but there’s also a chance that a team will give him a second chance. Time will tell, but what I want to focus on is what the Kansas City Chiefs can do at the running back position.
Depending on how free agency goes, the Chiefs will be linked to multiple running backs for the 2019 NFL Draft in April, that is unless Spencer Ware absolutely dominates the rest of the season. But even if he does, I think the Chiefs will consider adding another running back, one way or another. Keep in mind, Ware is a free agent when this season is over. Before we jump into draft prospects, there are potentially three free agent running backs that could find themselves having a contract offer from the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2019 NFL Draft:
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Throughout much of his time at Alabama, Yeldon was involved in a timeshare. From splitting carries with Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake and Eddie Lacy, there always seemed as if Yeldon had more to give. That was the thought after consecutive 1,000 rushing yard seasons at Alabama, and that’s still the thought after four years in the NFL.
Even though that might be the thought from some people, Yeldon has proven that he can’t be an every-down back. If he was, he would have convinced the Jaguars not to sign running back Chris Ivory after his rookie season or to draft Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
This doesn’t mean that Yeldon can’t be productive or be a key free-agent signing for a team that needs a running back. The Chiefs could very well consider the 25-year-old. Throughout his career, he’s averaging 9.44 carries per game and 3.375 receptions per game. There’s a good chance that Yeldon will see around 15 touches or more wherever he signs, and with the way the Chiefs’ offense works, he’d be a good fit. With the Chiefs’ passing attack, they wouldn’t feel obligated to force feed him the football and could get him involved on the ground and through the air. Depending on the price, Yeldon would make sense for a more featured role than what he’s been given in Jacksonville, but it would be surprising if the Chiefs made him a centerpiece.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
This might be the one that makes the most sense. Even though he’s not as productive as most people would like right now, the Falcons have been dealing with a ton of injuries on their offensive line. However, he would go from an offense that loves to throw the football to another offense that throws the football.
No matter the dollar amount, Coleman has been waiting for a featured role, and there’s no doubt that he’ll get it when he signs with a new team. The fourth-year back has only started 15 games in his 51 career appearances and has spent much of his time splitting carries with Devonta Freeman.
Another reason why Le'Veon Bell is so key to the Pittsburgh Steelers offense pic.twitter.com/y9KhBhGsNK— PFF (@PFF) April 1, 2018
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
For the Chiefs, this would be a home run. This is the only running back that can match or exceed the same production as Kareem Hunt. There will be plenty of speculation about where Bell might end up next season, but it seems like a certainty that it won’t be Pittsburgh. There’s also a chance he retires. I doubt that, and when he’s available, you’d have to think the Chiefs will show interest.
Bell is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. He’s only 26 years old and already has 8,000 total yards for his career. His contract situation is what makes everything unknown about his status. Without question, he wants to be paid as the top running back in the NFL, but there’s some discussion of him being paid in the same range as a quarterback. It’s hard to pay the premium price tag for a position that takes a beating on almost every play, and Bell is one of those players that would be on the field for just about every play. His status is murky, and I don’t believe the Chiefs will end up with his services.
Three running backs for the 2019 NFL Draft:
There could be some other options made available by the time free agency begins in a few months, but as of now, these are three names that we should see circling around the free agent market. But what about the 2019 NFL Draft? If the Chiefs don’t consider a free agent running back and want to pair Spencer Ware with a young back out of the draft, who are some options they could consider?
Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
One of my favorite prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft is Memphis standout running back Darrell Henderson. He’s shifty back that has good contact balance, short area quickness, and the acceleration needed to excel at the next level. He could fall under that “Kareem Hunt” category in the NFL Draft, but he could fall under the radar.
Henderson has been productive for the Tigers since the 2017 season, but he’s really put it together this season. On the current season, the 5’9 and 200 pound back has over 1900 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Regardless of the production, Henderson has a good chance of getting drafted on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the Kansas City Chiefs could consider him giving him a featured role in their offense.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
Ever since his arrival in Washington, Myles Gaskin has been the guy for the Huskies. He’s had over 1,000 yards rushing in every season, and rightfully so. Gaskin has some serious talent, despite some question marks regarding his size. He’s only 5’10 and about 195 pounds, so there will be questions about on how many touches he should have at the next level, but if you need a sample size of what he can do, his entire career is incredible.
Gaskin has incredible vision in the open field, and at times it’s like he’s got eyes in the back of his head. He has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field but does a great job finding an opening and making something out of nothing. His jump cut is nasty, and if you don’t have good form when tackling, he will run through you and gain additional yardage.
If selected by the Chiefs, Gaskin would be a good fit for their spread offense, but there would have to be some type of additional back in the mix. If the Chiefs were to select Gaskin on day two of the draft, maybe they would also consider trading for Jordan Howard of the Chicago Bears? That would be a fun duo in an already dynamic offense.
Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan
This would be a day three option for the Chiefs, but Karan Higdon might be the best pound-for-pound runner in this class. That won’t be a popular opinion for a back that excels as a north and south runner, but don’t sleep on his ability to make defenders miss. Higdon moves well laterally and has ideal burst to get through the line of scrimmage or when attacking the second level. He’s got pretty good contact balance and should be able to handle the bulk of the carries if needed.
Higdon wasn’t very productive during his first two seasons at Michigan. He rarely saw the field with the offense, but he continued to work, and eventually he got the opportunity to take the lead back duties. Since then, Michigan has been able to run the football better than most teams in the country. Higdon ran for over 100 yards in seven consecutive games this season.
There will be question marks regarding the overall athletic ability for the 5’10 and 202-pound running back, but he’s plenty good at football despite the lack of “elite” traits. Higdon will be a good find for a team on the third day of the 2019 NFL Draft, and if the Chiefs can pair one of the free agent running backs listed above with Higdon, then they should be able to fix their potential problem at the running back position.