Heading into the 2023 offseason, running back was high on the priority list for the New Orleans Saints. The Saints relied heavily on Alvin Kamara and an aging Mark Ingram to carry the offense with a lackluster passing attack in 2022. After an off year for both backs, it was important for the Saints to get younger and better at the position, and they did just that.
They kicked off free agency by signing Jamal Williams who led the NFL in rushing TDs in 2022. Williams ran for 1,066 yards on a 4.1 average behind 17 touchdowns last season. Before 2022, Williams never eclipsed 153 attempts in a single season, so his legs should be fresher than the average 28-year-old RB.
Even though Kamara and Williams form one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL, the Saints still wanted to continue to get younger at the position. With their third-round pick in the draft, the Saints selected TCU running back, Kendre Miller. Miller was one of the best backs in college football last season and somehow fell right into the Saints lap in round three. He brings more versatility to the RB room with his ability to run between the tackles and also work in open space and as a pass catcher.
Miller has all the confidence in the world. In May, Miller said he can “pretty much do the same thing” as Alvin Kamara does for the Saints. I feel this comment got spun the wrong way by the media. Obviously, no one in the NFL is Kamara, but I think he meant he feels he can be a valuable pass catcher in this offense. If he can prove to be half the pass catcher Kamara is, the Saints will have three backs who can run routes on the field on every play.
We also can’t forget about Taysom Hill’s presence in the backfield. Hill had his most efficient season as a rusher in 2023, totaling 575 yards on 96 carries for an average of 6.0 YPC with seven touchdowns. Just imagine all the possible plays the Saints could run with Hill, Kamara, Miller and Williams in the backfield together.
With Hill and the three guys mentioned earlier, the Saints backfield has to be one of the scariest in the NFL. So, how do they stack up against some of the best backfields in the NFL?
The Packers have two RB1s on their roster in Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Matt LaFleur and the Packers decided to move on from Aaron Rodgers to rebuild with Jordan Love. They believe in Love, but it’ll be his first season as a full-time starter, and a young QBs best friend is a good run game.
The Packers RB duo averages a combined 119.2 rush yards per game pic.twitter.com/bRlsLHj0sS— IKE Packers Podcast (@IKE_Packers) November 16, 2022
Jones had his most efficient season as a rusher in 2022 where he put up 1,121 yards on a 5.3 YPC. He also caught 59 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns. He’s been one of the most dynamic running backs in the league for years, but he’s always been overshadowed by the Christian McCaffrey’s and Alvin Kamara’s of the NFL.
AJ Dillon has the potential to be a starting RB in the NFL, but with Jones on the roster, he has to split time in the Packers backfield. He ran for 770 yards with a 4.1 YPC average and seven touchdowns in 2022. He and Jones form a powerful 1-2 punch, but the Packers lack the complete depth that the Saints have in the backfield. If one of these two guys went down, it would be really hard for the Packers to continue to be as successful on the ground as they’ve been the past couple season.
The Ravens always have one of the league's top rushing attacks, especially when Lamar Jackson is on the field. He, JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards form a three headed monster, but there always seems to be injuries in their back field.
Lamar is on pace to break the career rushing record by a QB, Dobbins has proven to be a unit when healthy, and Edwards has been a solid RB2 when Dobbins goes down. Unfortunately for the Ravens, I don’t think all three of these guys have been healthy together for an extended period of time.
If they can all find a way to be on the field together for more than a handful of games in 2023, the Ravens could have the most efficient rushing attack in the NFL, but until then, I would rather have the Saints backfield who’s proven they can stay on the field.
San Fransisco 49ers
The 49ers have the best running back in the league when healthy in Christian McCaffrey. They also have Elijah Mitchell who’s just one year removed from a rookie season where he totaled more than 1,000 yards. With just these two, the niners have an argument for one of the best backfields in the NFL, but when you mix in Deebo Samuel, it’s hard to find anyone better.
They already have all the talent in the world in the backfield, but when consider Kyle Shanahan is the play caller, it just becomes unfair. Shanahan is easily the best coach at scheming and drawing up run plays and knowing when to call them.
When you put their talent, their coaching and their offensive line together, you get one of the best and most fun to watch rushing attacks the league has seen in a while. While the NFL has become a pass heavy league, it’s fun to watch a team completely confuse and dissect a defense on the ground.
Christian McCaffrey was the best trade acquisition since Trent Williams. I said what I said. pic.twitter.com/BFhQ56GTL5— FoN9ne (@FoN9ne) February 4, 2023
As much as I hate to say it, the Falcons could have one of the best RB duos in the NFL in 2023. Bijan Robinson is the best RB prospect we’ve seen since Saquon Barkley and Tyler Allgeier is coming off a 1,000-yard rookie season. I know there’s a lot of people who don’t believe in Robinson, but almost every rookie RB drafted that high in recent memory has had an amazing rookie season. The last three RBs drafted in the top ten include Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. All three of those guys put up over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in their rookie season.
The Falcons ended 2022 as a top three rushing team in terms of yards. If Robinson can put up 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns and Tyler Allgeier can come in and match his average of 4.9 YPC from 2022, the Falcons are not going to be a fun team to play.
You also have to factor in Desmond Ridders legs. In college, he posted over 2,100 rushing yards in four seasons. Anyway you shape it, the Falcons are set to be one of the league's top rushing teams again in 2023.
Bijan Robinson is going to go off his rookie year. In 2022, Atlanta was already one of the best rushing teams in the NFL:— CJ Vogel (@CJVogel_TFB) April 28, 2023
– 1st in rush attempts (559)
– 3rd most rushing yards (2718)
– 4th in yards per attempt (4.9)
– 10th in rushing TDs (17)
Now add the best RB in the draft.
The Saints have one of the best backfields in the league with Kamara, Williams, Miller and Hill. I would argue they have the deepest set of runners in the league, but they aren’t as top heavy as some of the other teams in the NFL.
Let us know in the comments where you would rank the Saints backfield and how you think they compare to the other teams in the league.
Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our YouTube channel. Follow my personal page @clukehubbard for more!