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If he can remain healthy, rookie Knile Davis could end up being the best running back to come out of the 2013 NFL draft.
Most Chiefs fans would wholeheartedly agree that for the team to become contenders again, the offense will need to rely upon the talents of starting running back Jamaal Charles.
Despite proving last season that he has fully recovered from his 2011 ACL injury, the team won't overuse Charles, who is at his best when he gets between 15 and 20 touches. That said, the battle in training camp will be for the backup job, a role that can expect five to 10 touches per game.
Gone is last year's backup, Peyton Hillis, who the team chose not to re-sign.
Here are the candidates to fill the role in 2013:
The Underdog—Cyrus Gray
The 23-year-old Gray joined the Chiefs last season from Texas A&M as a sixth-round pick and struggled to find playing time while battling injuries. Despite seeing playing time in 10 games, he touched the ball in just four of them after impressive flashes during the preseason.
To land the job, Gray will need to show he can handle more of a load than the seven carries and two catches he had in 2012.
The Wild-card—Shaun Draughn
If there was one guy who took advantage of the ineffective play of Hillis, it was Draughn. While the former North Carolina Tar Heel was far from flashy, he was reliable. Draughn played in all 16 games, racking up a 3.9 yards-per-carry average on 59 carries and catching 24 passes.
If Draughn expects to compete for the job, he'll need to prove to Reid that he can block on passing downs, and not just catch.
The Favorite—Knile Davis
The rookie third-round pick out of Arkansas was one of the best running back prospects in the country after a sophomore campaign in which he led the SEC in rushing with 1,322 yards.
However, after losing his entire 2011 season to a broken ankle and putting up mediocre numbers in 2012, it remains to be seen if Davis has anything left in the tank.
After his showing at the NFL combine, where he outshined every other running back in the 40-yard dash (4.37) and the bench press (31 reps), the Chiefs are betting that Davis can handle spelling Charles five to 10 times each game. Better yet, they hope a healthy Davis offers the same type of game-breaking skills that makes Charles one of the best backs in the NFL.