2015 Rookie Running Backs: Where Are They Now?


The 2015 NFL Draft was one that many will remember for years to come. It was the year in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected QB Jameis Winston with the first overall pick, while the Tennessee Titans gambled on QB Marcus Mariota soon after. It marked the time in which both Amari Cooper and Stefon Diggs both made their entrance into the NFL. However, what ever happened to the running back class?

At this time, the 18 running backs selected in the 2015 Draft no longer play for their original team. That begs the question: Where are they now?

ESPN Images

St. Louis Rams Select Todd Gurley (#10)

New Team: Atlanta Falcons

What Happened: The first running back off the board was Gurley, who went on to accumulate 10 or more rushing touchdowns in four of his first five NFL seasons. As a result, he became the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year, a three-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, and the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year.

However, Gurley’s hindrance is due to two factors: Injuries and lack of salary cap space. A case of arthritis in Gurley’s knee caused speculation that the Rams would no longer be able to rely on the 25-year old as a three-down back. In addition, Los Angeles is currently ranked last in available cap space by over $4M.

Once he reached free agency this past offseason, the Rams could no longer hold onto their star running back. The Atlanta Falcons and Gurley agreed upon a one-year that could be worth up to $11M during the 2020 season.

Sean M. Haffey, Getty Images

San Diego Chargers Select Melvin Gordon (#15)

New Team: Denver Broncos

What Happened: Just five picks later, the San Diego Chargers found what they believed to be their running back of the future in Melvin Gordon. Despite an underwhelming rookie campaign, Gordon put up a combined 47 touchdowns across the following four NFL seasons. With over four yards per carry, he became one of the most talked-about running backs in a short period of time.

After holding out for a new contract during the early stages of the 2019 season, Gordon eventually came back with no extension granted in Week 4 for the Chargers. He finished the season with 612 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 162 attempts.

Even after receiving higher offers in free agency, Gordon elected to sign a two-year, $16M deal with a divisional foe in the Denver Broncos. Entering the 2020 season, Gordon will once again be one of the most talked-about players.

Bleacher Report Images

Jacksonville Jaguars Select T.J. Yeldon (#36)

New Team: Buffalo Bills

What Happened: In the early stages of the second round, the Jacksonville Jaguars were eager to select an heir to Maurice Jones-Drew, who left the franchise after the 2013 season. As a result, T.J. Yeldon became the leading rusher for Jacksonville in both the 2015 (740 yards) and 2016 (465) seasons with below-average totals.

In April of 2019, Yeldon and the Buffalo Bills agreed on a two-year, $3.2M deal. However, both Frank Gore and Devin Singletary found themselves in a two-man committee. Yeldon totaled 63 rushing yards across 17 attempts last season, and is entering a contract season.

Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Detroit Lions Select Ameer Abdullah (#54)

New Team: Minnesota Vikings

What Happened: Later in the second round, the Detroit Lions chose to invest in their backfield in Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Despite flashes of promise during his rookie season, Abdullah didn’t last long in Detroit. In November of 2018, the Lions waived the running back in order to make room on the active roster for Zach Zenner.

The following day, Abdullah was claimed by the Minnesota Vikings. Even after the acquisition, the 26-year old only rushed the ball 23 times for a total of 115 yards across the 2019 season. He currently sits behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison on the depth chart, and is scheduled to make less than $900,000 on his contract season.

Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons Select Tevin Coleman (#73)

New Team: San Francisco 49ers

What Happened: After Steven Jackson signed with the New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t know what they had in Devonta Freeman as a potential three-down back. As a result, the front office used a mid-round pick on Tevin Coleman.

After four productive seasons with Atlanta, Coleman and the San Francisco 49ers agreed on a two-year, $10M deal in March of 2019. In his first full season with the 49ers, he received the same number of attempts (137) as presumed starter Raheem Mostert.

With Matt Breida playing a large role in the current offense, and with Jerick McKinnon returning from injury, Coleman’s role for the 2020 season is currently unknown.

Houston Chronicle

Cleveland Browns Select Duke Johnson (#77)

New Team: Houston Texans

What Happened: As a pass-catching back, the Cleveland Browns used Johnson in a two-back committee alongside Isaiah Crowell. While Crowell received a bulk of the carries, Johnson totaled 50+ receptions in each of his first three seasons.

After an underwhelming 2019 season, the Browns agreed to trade Johnson to the Houston Texans in exchange for a mid-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. While his role remained minimal, he is still under contract for the next two seasons.

San Antonio Express-News

Arizona Cardinals Select David Johnson (#86)

New Team: Houston Texans

What Happened: Oddly enough, David Johnson and Duke Johnson Jr. were only nine picks apart from one another, and both are now members of the Houston Texans this season. The peak for David Johnson came during the 2016 season with the Arizona Cardinals, where he totaled 1,239 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns.

However, a wrist injury forced Johnson to miss nearly all of the 2017 season. Since then, he just hasn’t been the same. In exchange for DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick, the Cardinals sent Johnson and a second-round pick to Arizona.

Todd Olszewski, Getty Images

Washington Redskins Select Matt Jones (#95)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: After spending a late third-round pick on Jones, the Redskins never found the opportunity to get him involved as the lead back. During his rookie season, Alfred Morris carried the ball on 37.8% of attempts. The following season, Jones carried the ball only 99 times behind incoming rookie Robert Kelly.

Despite a short tenure with the Indianapolis Colts, the team eventually waived the running back in September of 2017. In five games with the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks, Jones totaled 314 rushing yards and one touchdown across 80 attempts.

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

Chicago Bears Select Jeremy Langford (#106)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: When originally drafted by Chicago, many believed Langford would take over after Matt Forte, 30, hit free agency. With 148 attempts during his rookie campaign, he found the end zone on seven occasions.

However, a bummed ankle the following season forced the Bears to move on in September of 2017. He was eventually picked up by the Atlanta Falcons, where he spent time on their practice squad. He was eventually released with an injury designation in order for the team to make room for Tony Brooks-James. No teams have contacted Langford about a new playing opportunity since.

Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens Select Javorius Allen (#125)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: After taking Javorius “Buck” Allen, the Baltimore Ravens committed to a two-man show in the backfield between himself and Justin Forsett during the 2015 season. In fact, during Allen’s rookie campaign, he only trailed Forsett by 14 carries.

However, the commonality of injuries forced Baltimore move on from Allen. In October of 2019, with Saquon Barkley injured, the New York Giants released Jon Hilliman and signed Allen. The running back only received playing time in three games, totaling 36 rushing yards and one touchdown across 10 attempts. He has yet to sign with a team for the 2020 season.

Michael Zagaris, Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers Select Mike Davis (#126)

New Team: Carolina Panthers

What Happened: Across five NFL seasons, Mike Davis has been apart of four NFL franchises already in the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and Carolina Panthers.

His injury history and lack of playing time has lowered his potential for success as a viable option for NFL offenses, and with Christian McCaffrey granted a recent extension, Davis is ranked as a distant fourth on the current depth chart in Carolina.

Sportige Images

Tennessee Titans Select David Cobb (#138)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: Entering the 2015 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans were starving for a running back solution. The season before marked a year in which Bishop Sankey led the team with 569 rushing yards on a team-high 152 carries.

However, Cobb didn’t provide much to a 3-13 Titans team. He appeared in the final seven games of the regular season before being waived. The Chicago Bears stashed Cobb on their practice squad, but he hasn’t played in a regular season game since.

Clive Rose, Getty Images

Miami Dolphins Select Jay Ajayi (#149)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: While Ajayi has experienced low moments in his career, he has shown promise along the way. His peak came during the 2016 season; a year in which he totaled 1,272 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

In October of 2017, Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a fourth-round pick. As a result, he was part of the 2017 Super Bowl Champion team. Two years later, Ajayi was waived in order to make room for a returning Jordan Howard and impressive Boston Scott.

Brett Carlsen, Getty Images

Buffalo Bills Select Karlos Williams (#155)

New Team: Toronto Argonauts

What Happened: In all fairness, Karlos Williams was never set up for success with the Buffalo Bills. One month prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, then-Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly traded running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

During his only NFL season, Williams earned 517 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 93 attempts; enough for 5.6 yards per carry. Last November, the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL signed Williams.

Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

Carolina Panthers Select Cameron Artis-Payne (#174)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: Before the Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey was drafted in 2017, Carolina relied heavily on Jonathan Stewart as their lead back. Even when the team spent a late pick on Cameron Artis-Payne, he never received more than 50 attempts in a single season.

Just before the 2019 NFL season, the Panthers cut Artis-Payne while making final roster cuts. He proceeded to part of the short-lived XFL, where he totaled 241 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 47 attempts.

Rogelio V. Solis, AP Photo

Indianapolis Colts Select Josh Robinson (#205)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: The NFL career of Josh Robinson was rather short, as fumbling issues forced the Colts to waive the running back in November of 2015. He appeared in only five games with Indianapolis, and never received more than five attempts behind Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Chris Graythen, Getty Images

New Orleans Saints Select Marcus Murphy (#230)

New Team: Carolina Panthers

What Happened: After spending his first two seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Murphy eventually evolved into a special teams asset. He spent time with the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts’ practice squads before signing with the Buffalo Bills. Last December, Murphy signed a futures/reserves contract with the Carolina Panthers.

David J. Phillip, AP Photo

Houston Texans Select Kenny Hilliard (#235)

New Team: N/A

What Happened: Drafted in the final round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Hilliard has yet to receive an NFL snap. He has spent time on practice squads with the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins before trying out for the Alliance of American Football (AAF). He failed to make the final roster, and has not been signed since.

The following video is brought to you by our partner, Lola Menthol:

Related Articles

Leave a ReplyCancel reply

Back to top button