An NFL player’s skillset has a major role in determining NFL success. However, many other factors come into play, including some that are out of the player’s control. Below are eight backup players wasting away on the bench. Many of them do see some game action and are the respected backup on the team’s NFL Depth Charts, but they do not see nearly as many snaps as I’m sure they would like. I believe if given the opportunity, the following eight players could produce so much more.
Atlanta Falcons | RB
Tevin Coleman is part of arguably one of the most talented backfields in the NFL. He finished tied for the RB17 in standard scoring last season while teammate Devonta Freeman finished as the RB6. Coleman has looked explosive, both running and catching the football, while on the field the past two seasons.
The reason he makes this list is the potential he has for so much more. While Freeman is yet to agree on a contract extension, many expect him to eventually. As long as Freeman is around and healthy, Coleman’s potential will continue to be capped.
Quarterback | QB
While Tom Brady continues to defy odds and play at an MVP level at age 39, Jimmy Garoppolo continues to watch from the sidelines. This feels awfully similar to the Favre/Rodgers transition, without the retirement saga. I’m not saying Garoppolo is anywhere near as good as Rodgers, but just like the Packers, the Patriots are a storied franchise that is trying to balance the desires of both their current star and their promising backup waiting on the bench.
Garoppolo has played well in limited action, especially the two games he started last year. He will be an unrestricted free agent next off-season. Some teams tried to trade for him this off-season and even more might try this time next year.
Miami Dolphins | WR
Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills sit atop the depth chart, the oldest being 25 years old. The Dolphins even drafted Isaiah Ford a couple months ago to complicate the situation even more. Landry is an unrestricted free agent next year, which provides a glimmer of hope that Carroo could eventually crack the starting lineup. However, there haven’t been any indications so far that the Dolphins would move on from Landry, their most productive receiver.
From 2012-2014, Alfred Morris had 1000+ yards rushing and 7+ TDs in each season. He saw his stats take a dive in 2015 and the Washington Redskins released him after the season.
Morris was then signed by the division-rival Cowboys and many expected him to form a respectable tandem with Darren McFadden. However, a month later the Cowboys chose Ezekiel Elliott as the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, which placed a major roadblock on Morris’s path to substantial carries.
Morris saw very limited work last season as Elliott took the league by storm. He would probably receive more work on nearly any other team and could potentially start on a few. His future in Dallas is murky and the Cowboys would be doing him a favor if they let him walk.
New York Jets | RB
Bilal Powell is a talented running back stuck in a timeshare with an aging Matt Forte. He saw limited work for most of the last season. When he finally received a chance to be the lead back in his final four games, he averaged 138 total yards with 3 total TDs in those four weeks.
Unfortunately for Powell, Forte is still around this season. This could potentially lead to another timeshare, at least at the beginning of the season. Many predict Bilal to take a step forward with increased playing time. Hopefully, for his sake, those predictions come true.
New England Patriots | WR
Malcolm Mitchell had a decent rookie season last year, totaling 32 receptions for 401 yards and 4 TDs on just 48 targets. He started to see more targets in week 9 after Rob Gronkowski suffered a back injury. From that point on, he averaged 4.16 catches for 51 yards and .66 TDs per game in those he played. He was looking like a potential breakout candidate this season until the off-season played out.
First off, the Patriots traded a fourth-round pick for TE Dwayne Allen and a sixth-round pick back in March. Days later, they traded their first-round pick for Brandin Cooks. They also recently agreed to a contract extension with Julian Edelman earlier this month. On top of that, star TE Rob Gronkowski is healing from his back surgery and recently stated he is 100 percent. Add in WR Chris Hogan and you have a very crowded Patriots receiving group. Barring injuries, Mitchell’s development might be limited this season as he figures to see limited work this upcoming season.
Cleveland Browns | RB
Duke Johnson is a promising young running back who is stuck in a tough situation. He currently sits behind Isaiah Crowell on Cleveland’s depth chart. Both running backs are very young, so Johnson doesn’t currently have an easy path to the starter role.
Johnson has played well in his first two seasons. The presence of Crowell has limited Johnson’s rushing statistics. However, he does his best work in the passing game, averaging 57 receptions for 524 yards per year. It’s not like Johnson can’t run the ball between the tackles. He has averaged 4.2 yards per attempt over his NFL career. He just receives very few carries. If he were to receive an expanded role behind the improved offensive line, he could break out. However, Crowell has played well himself and figures to prevent Johnson from seeing a starter’s workload.
Los Angeles Chargers | WR
That clearly did not happen. Teammates Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman had solid seasons and cut into Benjamin’s target share. Keenan Allen is returning from injury this season and the Chargers signed Mike Williams with the 7th overall pick. Add in the emergence of Hunter Henry and the steady presence of Antonio Gates and the Chargers’ receiving core is very crowded. Benjamin might find it difficult to even see the 75 targets he saw last year. That would still be much lower than the 125 he received in his career year in 2015.