Miles Sanders had as successful of a rookie season that any Eagles fan could have asked for in 2019. Once Jordan Howard went down with his season-ending injury, Sanders really shined and showed the entire league that he is ready to put his name among the elites at the running back position.
Pro Football Focus seems to disagree about Sanders being ready to become one of the best at his position, at least in one of their newest player rankings. Lead writer Ben Linsey put together a list of the 32 starting running backs and ranked them by their elusiveness.
Linsey looked at how often each running back forced missed tackles on both rushing attempts and receptions, and also dove into other metrics like how effective 'backs were after contact and how well they performed after the catch. He noted that some players prefer to run defenders over, while others try to evade contact altogether. But the end goal remains the same for these rankings — which 'backs don’t get tackled often. Sanders came in shockingly low on these rankings, pulling in at #19. Here's what they had to say about the young Eagles tailback:
"Sanders undoubtedly had a productive rookie season. As sad as it is, he effectively served as the Eagles’ best deep receiver last year with the attrition they dealt with at the wide receiver position, and he should continue to have a positive impact in the passing game. His PFF rushing grade from this past season (58.5) doesn’t quite match the production he had on the ground, though. Part of that is the fact that he was running behind PFF's highest-graded run-blocking offensive line in the NFL, but another consideration is that he didn’t make defenders miss at a high rate. There’s reason to believe he can improve in that area. Sanders just needs to show it in 2020."
So it sounds like PFF isn't completed sold on Sanders' potential after a great rookie outing. Still, it is hard to think of 18 other running backs in the league that can be considered more elusive as Sanders. Somewhere between the 10-15 range would have been more appropriate.
At the end of the day though, Eagles fans can rejoice in the fact that Ezekiel Elliott came in behind Sanders at #22 while Derrius Guice was ranked #20 in this format. Saquon Barkley was the only rival 'back to list ahead of Sanders, as he came in at #7.