A trip around the running back room
Jarrod Thurman @JarrodChiefsFCS Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus
The Chiefs have a crowded running back room. Excluding fullback Michael Burton, the Chiefs currently have 7 running backs under contract as of writing this article. I’ll take a trip around the running back room in this article. I’ll also give a prediction on if they make the roster and if they don’t if I think they’ll make the practice squad. I’ll be going in alphabetical order, not depth chart order.
Jerrion Ealy is an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss. In three seasons at Ole Miss, he rushed 2,235 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ealy also was a kick returner at Ole Miss scoring 2 career return touchdowns. Ealy’s best chance at making the roster will be as a kick returner. With the Chiefs likely to want to use Mecole Hardman more on offense, he has a good shot to make the roster as the kick returner. If he doesn’t make the roster, he is a candidate for the practice squad.
The Chiefs have drafted 5 LSU players in the 1st round, more than any other school. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the most recent example of this. Edwards-Helaire had a solid rookie season rushing for 803 yards in only 13 games. He was less successful in his second year but he also missed 7 games due to an injury. It’s unlikely he’ll be cut but I wouldn’t rule out a trade for the right price with how large the running back room is.
Tayon Fleet-Davis was another undrafted free agent. According to his Maryland bio, he models his game after Heisman Trophy winner and former Royals outfielder Bo Jackson. He rushed for 8 touchdowns his super-senior year. He is unlikely to make the roster in my opinion and is likely just a camp body.
The Chiefs re-signed Derrick Gore in March when they tendered an offer to him. Gore had his career-best game against the Raiders when he rushed for 66 yards on 9 attempts with 1 touchdown. He averaged 7.3 yards per game in that game. Gore showed some promise late last season and because of that, he has a solid chance to make the roster.
Ronald Jones was one of the Chiefs’ free agent signings this offseason. Jones won Super Bowl LV in 2020 when the Bucs defeated our Chiefs. He also had his best season that year as well, including a 98-yard touchdown run against the Panthers. He’s going to compete for the starting position with Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Jerick “Jet” McKinnon is entering his 2nd season with the Chiefs. He was resigned shortly after the draft. McKinnon was key for the Chiefs in their playoff win over the Steelers gaining 142 yards from scrimmage that game. He will likely make the roster and be the number 3 running back.
The Chiefs drafted Isiah Pacheco in the 7th round this year. He was tied for the 16th fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine overall and tied for the fastest among running backs. He is definitely fast but as I discussed in my Legion of Zoom 2.0 article, he might be a little more of a project. I don’t anticipate him making the roster but he should be signed to the practice squad and develop for a little bit.
In the end, I think the Chiefs keep five running backs, Edwards-Helaire, Jones, McKinnon, Gore, and Fleet-Davis and Pacheco goes to the practice squad. The running back room is crowded, but things will get a little clearer when the preseason begins next month.