This running back class is absolutely littered with talent. Unfortunately, most of the top talent in this class went to teams with strong incumbent running backs. This doesn’t mean that these backs won’t be great, but for Rookie of the Year consideration, it is going to take an injury to get them on the field.
The Favorite: Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
So, to look at the top candidate we turn to the Titans and Sankey. There isn’t a ton to get excited about in Sankey’s skills, but he is a very good all-around back with one huge advantage: The rest of the Titans running backs stink. That means, for better or worse, he’s going to get the required touches to be in contention.
The Titans have a big, mauling offensive line built to run defenses over in the run game. It won’t be the most exciting season, but Sankey is the odds-on favorite to be the top offensive rookie right now.
The Long Shot: Andre Williams, New York Giants
The Giants have cleaned house on their running back depth chart. The only back on the roster from 2013 to finish in the top three in rushing is the oft-injured Peyton Hillis. In other words, competition for the starting running back spot is very much open.
So, should Williams win those carries, he could find himself in a position similar to that of Sankey—a rather unremarkable running back that could find himself in a remarkable position. The Giants have a more than adequate passing game, which would give a back like Williams some lanes to run on first and second down.
The Rest: Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams; Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Both Mason and Hill are more talented backs than Sankey and Williams but are going to be stuck in a running back-by-committee situation with their respective teams. If, by chance, either of these backs should steal their team’s starting spot, they have the potential for impressive rookie campaigns.