As I have noted in a previous article, the Denver Broncos rushing attack behind the lightning bolt we call Phillip Lindsay has been lacking. We all had high hope for the former third-round pick, running back, Royce Freeman, but he has been disappointing. He has only averaged 3.9 yards per carry through three seasons and has never lived up to the expectations we all had for him. I think an upgrade there is needed and would help the offense take that next step. A player who I think can help the Broncos offense take that next step is running back, Kenyan Drake.
Former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake has run for 303 yards and six touchdowns over the last two weeks with the Cardinals.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) December 23, 2019
Ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns yesterday.
A one-two punch in Phillip Lindsay and Kenyan Drake would give the Broncos one of the better rushing attacks in the league and take some of the pressure off quarterback Drew Lock. Keep in mind, Lock only has 5 starts under his belt so expecting him to carry the entire offense on his shoulders right away is a bit naive in my opinion. A strong rushing attack would give Lock and the Broncos just that.
Weight: 211 lbs
Age: 26 years old
Experience: 4 seasons
Kenyan Drake played his college ball at Alabama where he was a part of a talented rushing attack. He played a total of four seasons for the Crimson Tide and put up some impressive numbers during his time there. During his four-year career, Drake totaled 1,495 yards rushing for 18 touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards per carry during his career. He also added 46 receptions for 570 yards and 4 touchdowns as well.
He has carried that success to the NFL level where he has totaled 2,175 yards rushing. 17 touchdowns and averaging 4.8 yards per carry during his career. He has also added 144 receptions for 1,107 yards and 6 touchdowns. So he has been a weapon in the rushing AND passing game throughout his career.
Drake did the vast majority of his work with the Miami Dolphins these past four years, however, he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals during the 2019 season and went on to have a breakout year. He played a total of 8 games for the Cardinals in 2019 and totaled 643 yards rushing, 8 rushing touchdowns, and averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per carry. He has also added 28 receptions for 171 yards. So he ended the season on a very high note and showed that he can produce at a high level outside of the world of suck that is the Miami Dolphins.
Why it makes sense
It is clear that Broncos General Manager John Elway wants the Broncos offense to improve and good enough to challenge the Kansas City Chiefs offense whom are in their division. An explosive wide receiver has been the popular mocked pick to the Broncos as of now and they already have Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, and Phillip LIndsay on the roster. Pairing Lindsay with Drake would give the Broncos two explosive backs who can produce in the rushing game AND passing game.
Royce Freeman has been a bit of a disappointment so I think they need to upgrade the 1B part of their rushing attack. Phillip Lindsay cannot carry the load on a consistent basis and is coming off another wrist surgery so having another productive back to shoulder the load here would be ideal. Plus, a productive run game and a balanced attack would help take the pressure off quarterback Drew Lock who just has 5 starts under his belt.
Drake would also fit in well with Pat Shurmur’s offensive attack. He prefers an all-purpose back who can run the ball effectively as well as be a weapon in the passing game. Keep in mind, the Giants selected Saquon Barkley with the second overall selection during Shurmur’s first season with the Giants. So it’s safe to assume that this element is something important to him and one the Broncos may look to upgrade on this offseason. Drake has shown he can do both things effectively during his NFL career and would be a clear upgrade over Royce Freeman.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Well, the Cardinals traded for a back with an expiring contract in the midst of a losing season. This likely means they had future plans for him and would likely try to re-sign him before the start of free agency. Also, Drake had a bit of a breakout year in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense so I can the two-sides having mutual interest in a reunion.
As will be the case for any free-agent running back brought up, the price will always be listed as a negative. Drake will not break the bank by any means, but the argument can be made that selecting one in the draft is the better route to go for a running back. They’re much cheaper, younger, and you can find one at any point in the draft. I get it and this scenario is definitely on the table as well.
I think running back is a low-key need for the Broncos, especially with them hiring offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to coach and scheme up this team in 2020.
Now, this isn’t a knock on Phillip Lindsay who just surpassed 1,000 yards once again this past year. It’s more of a trying to improve his complement to Lindsay going forward. That compliment these past two years have been Royce Freeman but as I have stated multiple times throughout this piece, he has been a bit of a disappointment. I think Kenyan Drake would prove to be a better compliment moving forward.
I think Drake can be an affordable free agent addition to the Broncos offense that is looking to take the next step in 2020. He has never topped 1,000 yards rushing or been a full-time ball carrier, so his resume doesn’t scream “high-priced back”. However, he has shown to be an effective compliment in a rushing attack which is why I am including the contracts given to Dion Lewis and Tevin Coleman. I think Drake will get something in that range on the open market and with the Broncos surplus in cap, they could afford to do this type of deal.
In the end, I think he will end up back in Arizona in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense where he excelled in during the second-half of the 2019 NFL season.
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