J.D. McKissic is listed as the top running back on the Washington Football Team’s first depth chart.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Football Team officially has a new top-listed running back on their depth chart.
Just days after released Adrian Peterson as a part of final cuts, Washington has unveiled their first depth chart of the season. And atop the list is the new RB1 that’s a bit of a surprise, J.D. McKissic.
McKissic was signed by Washington as a free agent after spending the 2019 campaign with the Detroit Lions. He found success in Detroit, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and grabbing 34 passes out of the backfield for 233 yards and a score in limited action.
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When McKissic came to Washington, many expected him to take over the Chris Thompson role. So really, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is set to play a big role in the team’s offense.
McKissic fits what Scott Turner wants to do on offense. The converted receiver is versatile and will be able to move all over the offense. Sure, he’s similar to Antonio Gibson — a third-round pick who will eventually become the team’s lead option — but in an offseason where rookies had limited playing time, it could behoove Washington to give the more-experienced McKissic more playing time to start the season. That way, Gibson can get acclimated to the speed of NFL games instead of just being thrown into the fire.
And as far as starting Peyton Barber or Bryce Love over McKissic, those options seemed risky as well. Barber is a mediocre power back who averaged 3.1 yards per carry last season. He’s better served as a goal-line and short-yardage hammer for Washington than a true early-downs back.
As for Love, the former Heisman runner-up surely has upside, but he hasn’t yet played at the NFL level. He spent his rookie year recovering from an ACL injury suffered during his final season at Stanford and while he has progressed this offseason, the coaching staff seems to think he’s still a month or so away from being fully ready for action at 100 percent. He hasn’t played in almost two years, so without a preseason, it makes sense to ease him back into the groove to avoid a setback.
With all that said, McKissic is the best option to start. He has experience, versatility, and has been explosive when on the field. He fits what the team wants to do and could put up nice numbers.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Washington is likely to use a committee approach at running back anyway. McKissic may start, but Gibson may play a roughly equal number of snaps to him. Or Barber may play more often depending on both how he’s doing and how he matches up with the opponent.
We’ll soon see how Washington’s RB rotation shakes out, but two things are true. It makes sense to start McKissic. But also, he could be overtaken or be a “starter” in a true committee.” Only on Sunday will we know what Turner and Ron Rivera‘s plan is for the backfield in the 2020 season.