Talking about up-and-coming running backs is fitting, even and especially for a lineup that will include a healthy Javonte Williams this year. He’s expected to be the star of the show, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for competition or development of other players.
Granted, it’s going to be hard for Williams to develop any other players, given that he is still new himself and was injured pretty early on in the 2022 season. While the future of Latavius Murray with the Broncos is unclear, they still have a few seasoned backs like Samajae Perine and Tony Jones Jr. to help some of the new guys grow in their positions.
That being said, we’ll shine a spotlight on Chris Rodriguez, Jr., of the University of Kentucky. I realize he’s projected to be a late-rounder, and also that I may be biased as a Kentucky Wildcats fan (I can’t help it), but he may be worth a look.
5’11 // 224 lbs
Hand: 8 and 5/8
Arm: 30 and 5/8
NFL Total Combine Score: 74
An offensive lineman-turned-fullback in high school, Rodriguez has been playing for UK since 2018. Although he didn’t score any points in his Freshman year, he had 43 yards carried in two attempts.
In 2021, Rodriguez recorded six TDs and 533 rushing yards in 71 attempts. He went steadily up in 2020, managing 11 TDs and 785 rushing yards in 119 attempts.
2021 saw a slight decline in scoring at nine TDs, but an increase in rushing yards at 1379 for 225 carries. He was named First Team All-ACC that same year, and would follow this up in 2022 with six TDs and 904 rushing yards in 175 attempts.
The Good & The Bad
Chris Rodriguez Jr is still good ⚪️— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 1, 2022
The first thing I want to point out is that “Rodriguez is hard to take down. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in size and strength. This translates particularly well on short-yardage plays, in the red zone, and in high-stakes moments (i.e. when they need a few inches to make the next down). He has repeatedly shown that he can break through defenders, and he has the touchdowns to prove it.
Basically, he fits the bill of a true fullback.
All that said, Rodriguez will probably not yet be the guy to lean on if we need complicated route running and receiving capabilities. His speed is also somewhat lacking, as I mentioned earlier. These are both areas that CAN be developed, but will NEED to be developed.
I don’t see Rodriguez being a starter for the Denver Broncos soon, but I do see him as an option at backup with potential to climb, especially if he can stay healthy and explosive the way he is. My heart isn’t set on him; I just think he is a neat possibility to explore.
Rodriguez is projected anywhere between the 4th and 6th rounds, but a team could surprise us.
Who do you think the Broncos should draft this year?