PFF: Cardinals land No. 31 in running back unit rankings

Jun 19, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:27 pm

James Conner #6 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against Eddie Jackson #4 of the Chicago...

James Conner #6 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against Eddie Jackson #4 of the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on December 05, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

A majority of the Arizona Cardinals’ position groups are not looked on favorably heading in to the 2023 season, according to Pro Football Focus’ power rankings.

The running back room consisting James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Corey Clement, Ty’Son Williams and Emari Demercado is no different.

As Arizona will be missing a major portion of its running game due to Kyler Murray’s ACL injury and the unknown timetable of his return, the Cardinals may struggle to run the ball. Murray has averaged 5.8 yards per carry and almost 40 yards per game over 57 games to this point.

PFF’s Gordon McGuinness ranks Arizona’s running backs room at No. 31 due to Conner’s limited big-play ability and the inexperience behind him.

In fantasy football terms, the Cardinals backfield is probably quite enticing, with James Conner likely to get the vast majority of carries. He’s a solid running back, earning a PFF rushing grade between 66.0 and 77.0 in all six seasons in the NFL but has yet to have a season where he averages over 3.0 yards after contact per carry. Behind him on the depth chart the Cardinals have running backs who saw just 41 carries combined last season.

Conner had the lion’s share of the carries with 183 for 782 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns in 2022.

Murray was next on the list with 418 yards on 67 carries (6.2 YPC) for three TDs, but he tore his ACL in the Monday Night Football matchup against the New England Patriots in Week 14.

Third on the list was Eno Benjamin with 299 yard who is no longer with the team. No other player amassed more than 27 carries on the year.

Ingram and Clement combined for 42 carries last season and just 115 yards. Although Clement was a mid-season pickup and Ingram was a rookie, the consistency behind Conner is unknown.

Conner did have a monster year in 2021, rushing for a similar 752 yards on 202 carries (3.7 YPC) in addition to 15 touchdowns on the ground. His rushing and receiving stats eclipsed 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns.

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