LeSean McCoy is the best in the game, but behind him is an open competition for backup running back.
The Buffalo Bills didn’t retain Mike Gillislee this season, allowing him to stumble over to the Patriots with Stephon Gilmore. Losing him opened up a valuable part of the Buffalo Bills‘ offense — the backup running back.
The Bills have proven to be the league’s best rushing team over the past two years and it’s not just because we have the best back in the NFL — it’s because we have a quarterback that is dangerous on the ground and have had the most effective backup RB in the league (Gillislee). If the Bills want to sit atop the mountain for a third time, they will need a lot of yards from their backup.
Currently, there are four running backs on the Bills’ roster — Cedric O’Neal, Jonathan Williams, Jordan Johnson and Joe Banyard. Of the four, the Bills will likely keep three of them to work behind McCoy. Last season, they featured McCoy, Gillislee, Williams and Reggie Bush.
Right off the bat, I can see the Buffalo Bills electing to go with McCoy, Williams, Banyard and Johnson this season — unless O’Neal comes out and surprises everyone.
Jonathan Williams will likely lead the way, since he has the most experience — both in the league and with the Bills. Granted, Banyard is entering his fourth season, but only has 23 career carries. Williams had 27 carries as a rookie last year.
I like Banyard and think he will have a good training camp this season to secure a third or fourth string spot on the roster. He will ultimately be battling with Johnson and O’Neal, unless Williams has a huge fallout.
If you need to, take a look at Williams’ college stats. The number of huge runs with broken tackle after broken tackle is ridiculous. The dude can run and I can see him filling in for Gillislee nicely.
Also, I am thinking of Mike Tolbert as a fullback, that’s why his name was not listed. I think he will only be used as a short-yardage, goal-line player and that’s pretty clear.
Prediction: McCoy starts, Williams backs him up, Johnson and Banyard split third and fourth string.