49

Rookie Royce Freeman could finally be Denver’s feature-back answer

Rookie Royce Freeman could finally be Denver’s feature-back answer

Royce Freeman had not even slipped a Denver Broncos jersey over his head before the team’s top football decision-maker offered a matter-of-fact description of what he thought the rookie running back could be for the team.

Freeman was the Broncos’ third-round pick in this past April’s draft — the 71st player selected overall. Just hours after the selection, Broncos GM John Elway said: “He’s a big banger that we haven’t had for a while, so we’re excited to have him.’’authentic nfl jerseys cheap

Two months later, Freeman, with his combination of size and speed, made it fairly clear that he’s going to push Devontae Booker to be at the top of the running back depth chart. Asked just before the Broncos finished minicamp if he believed Freeman could put himself in the conversation to be the team’s lead back, Broncos coach Vance Joseph said “absolutely.”

Opinions differ around the league about the importance of the “lead back” in today’s pass-happy league. But that being said, Sean McVay’s Rams offense — the league’s current “it’’ scheme — featured a 1,300-yard rusher in Todd Gurley, who finished with 279 carries and 13 rushing touchdowns.49

Overall, six of the top scoring offenses in the league also finished among the top 10 in rushing, including all of the top five scoring offenses. So, pounding the rock with a feature back still has some merit.

For their part, the Broncos haven’t had a running back top 250 carries in a season since Reuben Droughns finished with 275 carries in 2004. Now, with a new QB and an offense looking to get back on track following a 5-11 season, they have Freeman. The 229-pound Oregon product flashed 4.5-second speed in his pre-draft workouts, averaged 5.9 yards per carry over four seasons and had three seasons with at least 16 rushing touchdowns.

“I think I showed durability and the ability to be there game in, game out,” Freeman said. “I think I showed at Oregon I can deliver the blow as a runner. I’m excited to compete, and we have a good environment in the running back room. I think we do want to see each other do well.”

Joseph has maintained that the Broncos only want a primary running back if one takes over the job.cheap nfl authentic jerseys

Elway might see it differently considering this is the fifth running back he has drafted since taking over football operations in 2011. None of the previous four selections, including De’Angelo Henderson from the 2017 draft, has had so much as a 900-yard season.