In an accounting of all 32 NFL teams situations at the running back position, the Detroit Lions look pretty good.
The Detroit Lions have still not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. But in 2021, they were productive on the ground with a pair of 600-plus yard rushers in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams.
In what amounted to 10 games of noticeable touches due to a shoulder injury, Swift topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Williams was a steady presence (3.9 yards per carry, 26 receptions), and Craig Reynolds had 224 yards over a three-game stretch in December.
Ahead of free agency and the draft, Kevin Patra of NFL.com has taken account of the running back situation for all 32 teams. The list is broken into categories–“Need Help Now”, “Acquire Depth”, “Upgrades Would Be A Bonus” and “All Set”. Running backs each team has under contract for 2022 are listed, along with upcoming free agents from the 2021 roster.
The Detroit Lions are indeed well-situated at running back
Even taking a brief glance at things, it’s easy to point to running back as a clear position the Lions don’t have a need. Swift and Williams are a solid duo, and Swift has star potential looking toward his third season in 2022. Reynolds deserves a shot to stick on the active roster. Godwin Igwebuike and 2021 seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson both had moments last season. All five are under contract for next season.
Patra did not rank the running back situations around the league. But there are the Lions, one of seven teams in the “All Set” category.
Top RBs under contract for 2022: D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson, Godwin Igwebuike
Key free agents: N/A
Swift has proven to be a boom-or-bust character. He generated two games of 130-plus rushing yards in 2021 but netted fewer than 35 rushing yards in six others. When healthy, Swift has the speed, elusiveness and dual-threat ability to be a game-breaker. We just haven’t seen the consistency in his first two seasons. On paper, Williams is the ideal buffer to Swift; he’s a reliable back who can churn out yards between the tackles and rip through linebackers, and he’s a good pass-catcher. With the reserve roles filled out, including by Reynolds, who was called away from his Netflix binging to play a solid role, the Lions’ RB room should be set. Detroit’s roster has plenty of other holes it needs to fill before worrying about the backfield at this stage of the rebuild.
It won’t be out of the question for the Lions to draft a versatile fullback-type, like Michigan State’s Connor Heyward for instance. But running back is not going to be a priority this offseason.