Broncos running backs showed room for improvement in 2019
2019 Stats: 132 carries, 496 yards, 31 Y/G, 3.8 Y/C, 3 TDs
There was much excitement about former Oregon star back Royce Freeman after he was taken by the Denver Broncos in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In fact, it was expected that he would likely be the starter in 2018, until Phillip Lindsay turned out to be a show-stopper.
From then on, Denver opted to use Lindsay and Freeman as a 1-2 punch effort, which appeared to be about as successful as expected with a woeful offense. Lindsay and Freeman appeared to pair well, Lindsay as the speed back that could open up gaps, and Freeman the strong power pack that could just crash through an offensive line and pick up short yardage.
The same idea was carried over to 2019, but just did not seem to carry the same effect. Like Lindsay, Freeman’s stats were pretty comparable to his 2018 performance, but stats do not always show the entire story. Freeman struggled in 2019, and it seemed that he was often stuffed for little or no gain. His average yards per game did drop nearly 6 yards, from 37.2 to an even 31, despite playing in all 16 games to 14 in 2018 and two more carries in 2019.
Freeman is not meant to be the #1 back in an offense that features Phillip Lindsay, but I just have not seen what I need to yet in him to be convinced that he is a solid #2 option. So far, he has not appeared to have been worth the 3rd round selection.
While he is just young and has plenty of time to turn it around, if the Denver Broncos do not opt to give the injured Theo Riddick another opportunity, I look for the Broncos to take a running back at some point in the 2020 NFL draft or to pick one up via free agency for competition.