While the Redskins already have in-house talent at the running back position, the team may look to bring in another player that has the ability to play every down.
With the NFL Scouting Combine officially underway and free agency on the horizon, the Washington Redskins have pegged the running back position as one of their areas of need.
Whether or not they elect to add a veteran free agent signing or through the draft, both Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams said Washington will bring in both depth and competition.
"You definitely want to look for a guy like Chris Thompson," Williams said on Wednesday. "Nobody does things as well as Chris and we're hoping that Chris comes back just like he left – he's one of the most dynamic backs in the league for what he can do – but you're looking for that runner and you're also looking for that guy that can play three downs. …You'd like to have a guy that can play two downs, plus the next one down and doesn't have to come off the field."
Washington has three running backs under contract who fit the third-down back role with Thompson, Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall.
Thompson, of course, was experiencing a breakout season before suffering a fractured fibula against the New Orleans Saints. The Florida State prospect accumulated more than 500 receiving yards with four receiving touchdowns along with nearly 300 rushing yards with two rushing scores during the 2017 campaign.
The Redskins expect Thompson to return to his production level once the 2018 campaign opens up. But Washington wants to add another runner who can play the every-down role.
"You know, I think for a second-down banger, we have Samaje [Perine] and Rob Kelley," Gruden said on Thursday. "But maybe another one in here to compete in that role, first and second down, maybe an all-purpose guy would be nice – a little return.
"There's a lot of options, but whoever it is, we intend on giving them a great opportunity to compete for a lot of carries."
Both Kelley and Perine got a crack at being the go-to back during the 2017 season. Kelley opened the season as the starting running back, but the Tulane product was slowed by injuries before being sidelined for the final seven games of the year.
Perine, meanwhile, recorded consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 11 and 12, but only toppled the 50-yard mark once in the final five games of the year.
While both have shown the ability to help the ground game, Gruden would like to have more stability at the position.
"We have got to get Chris Thompson back healthy and then we obviously have to get some running backs in here that can play 16 games somehow," Gruden said. "But we feel good about the depth with Byron Marshall coming in here late, Kapri Bibbs doing what he did, with Rob Kelley coming back off his injury, Samaje Perine getting quality reps. We have got some backs in-house that we feel good about, but we might need to add another piece to come in here and compete for that job."
In this year's draft, Williams noted that the running back position arguably is the deepest. Penn State's Saquon Barkley, of course, is consider not only the No. 1 running back in the group, but potentially the best prospect overall.
Beyond Barkley, though, there are other running backs who could be immediate contributors.
"There's enough running backs for everybody to get one," Williams said with a smile. "I think that's the strong point on this draft this year is when you look at the number of running backs."