The Detroit Lions ranked 30th in the league in rushing in 2016. Only the St. Louis Rams and the Minnesota Vikings rushed for fewer yards on the season. The Lions 3.7 yards per rushing attempt ranked 6th worst in the NFL. Detroit needs help on the offensive line but many believe they also need help in the backfield. Ameer Abdullah is expected to return to full health by the start of the 2017 season and will likely be the Lions starting running back, but he may need some help.
One person who agrees with that notion is former NFL MVP and current NFL Network analyst, LaDainian Tomlinson. “He needs (a partner),” Tomlinson said Monday at Super Bowl LI media night. “I should say, a Robin. If he’s Batman, he needs a Robin.”
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 31, 2017
After being drafted fifty-fourth overall in the 2015 NFL draft, Abdullah went on to lead the Lions in rushing in his rookie year. He ran for 597 yards and two touchdowns on 143 carries in 2015. This year he started off by running for over 100 yards in the first game but then injured his foot in the second game and missed the rest of the season. Theo Riddick also missed time this year which might be why Tomlinson thinks the Lions need to add a power back this offseason. “They’re going to have to get somebody to go along with Ameer Abdullah,” Tomlinson said. “I don’t think you just totally do away with Ameer. He’s had some injury problems, but he has showed some promise that he can be a special-type player, he just needs someone to help him.”
The Lions have options in the draft including the top three backs Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, And Christian McCaffrey. They have the 21st pick so it’s safe to say at least one of those backs will be available by the time they pick. It will be interesting to see which unrestricted free agents decide to hit the market and which ones decide to re-sign with their teams. That will have a lot to do with what the Lions end up doing with their backfield.