Although he was selected the fifth round, Jordan Howard could have an excellent rookie season with the Chicago Bears.
The former University of Alabama-Birmingham transfer and Indiana University running back was taken No. 150 overall by the Bears. Typically, guys drafted this late in the draft have trouble getting a foothold with a team. However, this should not be an issue for Howard.
The Bears needed to get a running back in this year’s draft. They lost their exceptional running back Matt Forte in free agency. As a result, the Bears were left with Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey and Jacquizz Rodgers as their top running backs on their roster. For this reason, Howard will have a shot at playing early and often in 2016.
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Although the Bears want Langford to be their main ball carrier, there is an opportunity for Howard to earn the primary backup role. Carey and Rodgers are very good veterans, but Howard has the running style the Bears are looking for.
The Bears were very successful with Forte who was a physical running back. Jordan Howard has a similar running style. He is a physical, downhill runner, and he does not shy away from contact. He also delivers his own hits to incoming tacklers.
While Howard is not as good of a pass catcher as Forte, but their running styles are similar enough to think Howard could have solid success with the Bears.
Also, when Howard shows up to training camp, he will easily be the team’s biggest running back. With his 6-1, 230-pound frame, it would not be surprising to see John Fox and the coaching staff play Howard in short yardage situations.
The one concern about Howard has been durability. He missed 18 quarters last season due to multiple injuries, and missed the Hoosiers’ final three games of the season because of knee surgery.
However, with the Bears’ solid running back depth, they should use Howard on a situational basis. This way, they can keep him healthy and fresh while also maximizing his various skills.
Obviously, the Bears are not simply giving an opportunity to Howard. He has to earn it. However, the last time he had to earn a playing was in his first year at Indiana. That opportunity worked out pretty well for him.
Jordan Howard is walking into a good situation with the Bears. If he continues to work hard this offseason, he could put up really good numbers in his rookie season.