The days of Jordan Howard being a relative unknown are already in the rearview mirror.
At this time last year, Howard was just a fifth-round pick out of Indiana who was buried on the depth chart behind Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey. Even head coach John Fox has noted that Howard didn’t even practice during the team’s offseason training program. Naturally, no position opens more doors than running back – and leave it to Howard to run through the door with his opportunity in 2016 and not look back.
Pro Football Weekly put together a list of the top running backs in the NFL heading into the 2017 season, and Howard ranks seventh. The rankings are put together by PFW’s staff with the help of league talent evaluators and coaches. So credit those who watch the NFL with a keen eye taking notice of Howard’s skills despite playing on a 3-13 team as a rookie last season.
Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers was PFW’s top-rated back, followed by David Johnson (Cardinals), Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), LeSean McCoy (Bills), and DeMarco Murray (Titans) to round out the top five. Ranking just ahead of Howard was Devonta Freeman (Falcons), while Lamar Miller (Texans), Todd Gurley (Rams), and Jay Ajayi (Dolphins) round out the top-10.
Howard earned his place in the top 10 running for 1,313 yards on a team that featured three starting quarterbacks and behind an offensive line that started eight different players. So it’s nice to see him get some well-deserved recognition for his efforts. And to think, things could get better for Howard in 2017 if the Bears’ line plays to the top-5 preseason ranking recently handed out by Pro Football Focus.
Especially on those short-yardage runs:
Jordan Howard was among the elite at the running back position in a number of ways, including short yardage situations pic.twitter.com/8P9yAjab3b
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 28, 2017
Surely running behind the best interior offensive line in football will help Howard reach his goal of being the NFL’s leading rusher this season.