Jeremy Langford Brings Speed to the Windy City: Why He Strengthens the Bears' Backfield
Jeremy Langford got little respect coming into the draft.
Despite solid production as the lead back at Michigan State, Langford wasnâ€™t one of the more attractive backs going into the combine due to his inability to break tackles, his lack of explosiveness, and his inability to run between the tackles effectively, which indicates that he has the potential to be little else than a change-of-pace back.
However, after running a 4.42-second 40 yard dash, best among more than 30 backs to run at the combine, Langford started to get a second look from scouts and front offices.
The Chicago Bears took notice and made Jeremy Langford the 106th overall pick, the ninth running back taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Spartans' running back finished his college career with back-to-back seasons of more than 1,400 yards rushing and at least 18 touchdowns in both 2013 and 2014. In the last 10 games of the 2014 season, including the Goodyear Cotton Bowl against Baylor, Langford rushed for more than 100 yards in each game and averaged 2 touchdowns.
Even with star running back Matt Forte entering the final year of his contract, Chicago wasn't expected to add another running back to the mix. With second year running back Ka'Deem Carey and newly signed Jacquizz Rodgers also on the roster, Langford may start training camp as the fourth back on the depth chart, but don't expect him to stay there for long.
The Bears were above average on the ground last year thanks to Forte, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which compares a team's production to expectation level, the Chicago Bears had an efficient running game.
Chicago's Adjusted Rushing NEP per play (0.01) in 2014 ranked 10th in the league. Where the Bears do need help is running the ball into the end zone. Chicago ranked 26th in rushing touchdowns with only eight, six of which came from Forte. In his final two seasons with Michigan State, Langford crossed the goal line 41 times. His nose for the end zone, even if he reaches it by bouncing outside, will be welcomed with open arms.
The drafting of Langford shows their lack of trust in Ka'Deem Carey and intentions to continue to use Jacquizz Rodgers in the passing game, as he was used in Atlanta.
Langford could quickly become the number-two back in Chicago and should start to see the field early in his rookie season. He isn't Forte's replacement in 2015, but he's likely the Bears' running back of the future and a good fit for an offense with weapons in Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery.
Now if only Langford could play quarterback.