Top Preseason Grades: Running Backs
We’ve had three weeks of preseason action which means we’ve seen the most we’re going to see of the starters with week four usually a battle between those still battling to make the final rosters.
We’re going to take stock before the final games to let you know the top five performers at every position so far this preseason.
If your favorite player or rookie didn’t make the top five that doesn’t mean he didn’t play well. His grades – good or bad – can be found along with every other player’s in the Premium section at PFF. We are the only place out there grading every player who takes a snap in the NFL preseason. A $26.99 subscription doesn’t just get you all that data, but 365 days of access to the coming regular season too and PFF data going back to 2007. Dive in and enjoy.
1. Devonta Freeman: ATL, +4.5
Breakdown: Some might know Freeman best from his appearances on Hard Knocks, but he has certainly been a dynamo with the ball in his hands for the Falcons averaging 5.1 yards per carry on his 16 attempts
Signature Play: ATL @ HST, Q4, 9:36. This play didn’t even count thanks to a penalty on the offense bringing it back, but Freeman was a blur, making moves and powering through tackles into the end zone.
2. Cyrus Gray, KC: +4.1
Breakdown: The Chiefs backfield is a crowded place. With Jamaal Charles the clear star of the group there is a fierce battle behind him for the remaining carries and spots on the roster. Cyrus Gray has been the guy to stand up and be counted so far this preseason, running hard and tough when given the opportunities. Is one of the league’s leading rushers over the preseason.
Signature Stat: Has rushed for 134 yards in the preseason, sixth in the NFL. Only Mark Ingram from the Saints has notched more yards on fewer carries than Gray’s 26.
3. Pierre Thomas, NO: +3.4
Breakdown: Pierre Thomas is one of the league’s most underrated running backs, and has been for a long time, pretty much every season PFF has been grading. What he is best at though is working with the ball in the passing game. He is arguably the league’s best back working from running back screens.
Signature Stat: Has picked up 93 yards from seven receptions this preseason, giving him an average per catch of 12.0, better than plenty of receivers let alone running backs.
4. Dan Herron, IND: +3.4
Breakdown: Unlike most of the players on this list, Herron has earned his place thanks to his work in the passing game. His ten carries have gone for a comparatively modest 36 yards but he has a +2.5 grade as a receiver alone.
Signature Stat: Has caught all nine passes thrown his way, gaining 57 yards and scoring a touchdown while making three defenders miss.
5. Roy Finch, NE: +3.2
Breakdown: Being buried on the Patriots depth chart, the undrafted free agent hasn’t let than slow him down, grading well in both the run and pass game in limited opportunities. Has made multiple players miss with the ball in his hands as both a receiver and runner.
Signature Play: NE @ WAS, Q4, 2:00: Made a tough catch on a quick screen that didn’t have perfect ball placement before making a couple of moves to maximize yardage.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam