The 2014 NFL Draft class is already being regarded as one of the deepest for receivers in league history.
The first round alone saw Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., and Kelvin Benjamin all get selected and play prominent roles with their respective teams during their rookie years.
Although, the same can’t be said for the running back position, as not one was taken with the first 32 picks. It’s a situation that played similarly to the previous year’s draft when not one player at the position was taken before the second round.
The Titans hoped that their selection of Wadsworth, Ohio-born Bishop Sankey with the 54th pick would be a second-day steal, mirroring Pittsburgh’s selection of Le’Veon Bell with the 48th pick in 2014. So far, it hasn’t.
Going into his second season, Bell was without question the Pittsburgh Steelers lead running back. However, Sankey doesn’t have that same luxury for his sophomore campaign. Bell accumulated 860 yards and 8 touchdowns during his rookie season, but Sankey failed to impress. He only amassed 569 yards on the ground his rookie season in Tennessee.
Even worse, he only reached the end zone twice.
As a result of his inconsistent play, Tennessee decided to seek competition for Sankey. The team drafted David Cobb in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and signed versatile back, Dexter McCluster.
Thus far, Sankey has failed to take a stranglehold on the Titans starting running back job. He only managed 15 yards on eight carries during the team’s first preseason contest. Cobb was more impressive, recording 53 yards on 11 touches. Cobb also found the end zone with a one-yard touchdown reception.
Tennessee won’t just award Sankey the job based on experience. This is a team that ranked 26th in rushing a season ago. With additions at former Oregon—and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota and wide receiver’s Dorial Green-Beckham and Harry Douglas, the Titans are trying to build a contender, and are relying on one of its young running backs to seize the starting role, and improve on the woeful stats from a year ago.
While a committee approach alongside Cobb is entirely possible, the ultimate goal is to find that true number one back, someone that can reinvigorate the Titans once potent running game. Coach Ken Whisenhunt stated after the Titans first preseason game that Cobb would get the first-team reps in practice, making Sankey’s role on the roster more in doubt.
Make no mistake about it, Snake and Cobb both have a fair shot at obtaining the coveted spot, but someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and take the starting running back job. And while Sankey might be losing reps to Cobb, he is certainly going to be given ample time to state his case as to why he should carry the bulk of the Titans rushing attack.
Bishop Sankey has only been in the NFL for one season, so let’s cut him some slack. Yes, his rookie year was atrocious, but sometimes it takes a player more time to adjust the the NFL style of play.
However, Cobb isn’t going to relent on his attempt at garnering the top spot on the depth chart. For that reason, Sankey needs to be at his very best, his career depends on it