PFF: Arizona Cardinals’ Kenyan Drake a top-25 running back in NFL

Aug 22, 2020, 7:36 AM

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ acquisition of Kenyan Drake from the Miami Dolphins may never have materialized had it not been for injuries to the team’s backfield at the time.

Injuries to David Johnson, Chase Edmonds and D.J. Foster prompted the Cardinals to do something about the running backs room, and less than a year later, Drake is No. 1 on the depth chart. Edmonds is right behind, and Johnson is now with the Houston Texans after a trade to get DeAndre Hopkins. Oh, what a difference a little time can make.

According to Pro Football Focus, Drake is the 21st-best back in the NFL. But now the starter in Arizona, he has room to shine and climb up that board as he has an opportunity like never before.

He set career highs in touches and games started last season between Miami and Arizona, and will likely do so again this year.

Drake is in easily the best position of his NFL career as the Cardinals’ projected lead back heading into the 2020 NFL season. Talent was never necessarily the roadblock with Drake in Miami, but opportunity and the skill level around him was. His 56.9 PFF grade to start the season with the Dolphins compared to a 76.8 overall grade to close the final eight games with the Cardinals (fourth at running back) highlights how that move to Arizona brought out the best in his game.

The move to the Cardinals seemed to do great things for Drake, as he thrived in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and averaged 5.2 yards per carry with eight touchdowns and 814 yards from scrimmage.

This year, it might be a matter of just getting Drake the ball as wide receivers Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk will want looks, not to mention tight end Dan Arnold.

Throughout his career, he’s been among the best backs in the league in areas such as yards after contact and missed tackles per attempt, and with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury orchestrating a much-improved offense, there’s a decent chance Drake beats out his previous career-high PFF grade of 74.4 in 2017.

PFF’s ranking of the top 25 running backs in the NFL put Drake ahead of the 49ers’ Raheem Mostert, the Eagles’ Miles Sanders, the Bills’ Devin Singletary and the Texans’ Duke Johnson Jr. At the top was, unsurprisingly, the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey.

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