Frank Gore is still the favorite for early down carries, and it’d be a mild surprise if he doesn’t lead the Bills in carries this season. The ageless wonder is entering his 37th year in the NFL and is only 500 yards away from passing Barry Sanders for 3rd place on the list of all time leading rushers. Pretty impressive. As great as Gore has been over the years, at his current age and with the miles on his body, he’s not an every down back.
Enter Devin Singletary.
The Motor was drafted in the third round out of Florida Atlantic where he played for Lane Kiffin for three seasons. His sophomore campaign put his name squarely on the NFL radar as he rushed for over 1,900 yards and 32 TDs in 13 games. His junior season didn’t quite produce the same gaudy stats (1,348 yards, 22 TDs), but it was still productive enough for Singletary to skip his senior season and enter the draft.
On the surface, being a third round pick might not seem like a huge deal but with the devaluation of the running back position over the last several years, spending a third rounder on a RB is evidence that you plan to utilize them early and often. Here are some names of backs that have been drafted in the third round in the past decade: Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, James Connor, David Johnson, Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, Demarco Murray, and Steven Ridley.
Some of these guys are stars. All have at least been starters. There have been 21 running backs drafted in Round 3 since 2010 and 11 of them have carried the ball at least 100 times as a rookie and nine of them have rushed for over 500 yards in their first season. The evidence seems to point to Devin Singletary playing a major role in the offense this season.
What kind of player should expect Singletary to be? When he was drafted, my initial NFL comp for him was Kareem Hunt. He doesn’t quite have the right hook that Hunt has, but they’re playing styles have a few similarities. Hunt is 5’9”, 215 lbs, while Singletary is 5’7”, 205 lbs. Both are shorter but well built backs. Both ran in the 4.6s at the combine. Both were the best offensive player for smaller college (Hunt played at Toledo).
The one difference people might point to is Hunt’s ability to be a prolific receiver out of the backfield. After all, Singletary only had 51 receptions in three seasons at FAU. But Hunt only had 32 receptions through his first three seasons at Toledo, before totaling 41 receptions as a senior. I don’t think the comparison is that crazy though Singletary isn’t (probably) coming into a fully weaponized offense like the one in Kansas City.
Expect to see the man they call Motor quite often this year. He wasn’t drafted to sit, and he brings the shiftiness and elusiveness that NFL teams crave. I’m excited to see how Sean McDermott deploys his new weapon, and with Shady out of the way, it’s safe to assume we’ll see that weapon quite often. Check out Singletary’s highlight tape against a superior Oklahoma team last year. Watch the run at 1:10 and you’ll see why his teammates call him “Motor.”