Running Backs (4)
Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle, Sewo Olonilua
I don’t think anyone is questioning the job security of Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard. Both were important draft picks to this organization and provide an important one-two punch that provided incredibly valuable in 2019 when the offensive line was good. With the offensive line being healthy again they should resume being productive backs in this league.
Last year, the team made Rico Dowdle their third running back. He was sparingly used on offense while participating in 44 percent of the special teams’ snaps. There isn’t enough competition at camp to dethrone Dowdle of his third spot on the depth chart and if he continues to be a consistent special teams contributor there isn’t much of a reason to replace him with someone else.
The only new addition to the room this season, at least according to my projection, is former TCU running back Sewo Olonilua. The 6-foot-3, 240 fullback was highly touted by the team because of his athletic ability given his size. (Highly touted relative to most fullbacks) Olonilua carried the ball 348 times for 1624 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Horned Frogs providing some versatility as a player.
Mike McCarthy offenses in Green Bay have utilized fullbacks. John Kuhn was notorious for being one of the best run blockers in the league. After he moved to New Orleans, fifth-round pick Aaron Ripkowski and Danny Vitale took the reins until McCarthy was fired from Green Bay.
Fullbacks are great for the game and easy to root for, but sometimes we do have to question their impact. Early in his coaching tenure having a fullback was common as teams lined up in heavier personnel routinely to run the ball. However, as McCarthy’s career has progressed, his teams are usually league leaders in running 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE). In 2018, the Packers lined up in 11 personnel 77 percent of the time; in 2020, the Cowboys lined up 71 percent of the time.
So why use a roster spot on Olonilua? At his size, he can play special teams taking up a spot usually filled by a tight end or linebacker. With his experience as a running back, he can catch passes out of the backfield and accumulate carries on short-yardage situations. He does provide a matchup advantage for the team when he’s on the field; in the end, it’s a matter of if the team uses him enough to warrant a roster spot?
With the team only carrying two quarterbacks, I decided to have some fun with the final selection of Olonilua.