We continue our SEC East discussion by analyzing NFL Draft decisions made by five running backs. Their choice to either stay in school or for early departure to the NFL will substantially influence the division’s outcome. Let’s take a look:
RETURNED TO SCHOOL
2016 Results: Finished 8th in the SEC with 224 carries, 1130 yards, and 8 TD’s.
Decision’s impact on the Dawgs: Momentous; both for Kirby Smart’s hopes for a conference title and for Chubb. He’s second on several Bulldog statistic columns: most yards in a game (Hershel Walker 283, Chubb 266) and most rush yards in a season (Walker 1891, Chubb 1547). Furthermore, Chubb’s 3424 career mark is good enough for second in school history; 2,017 yards behind Herschel Walker.
2016 Results: 152 carries, 840 yards, and 4 TD’s.
Decision’s impact on the Dawgs: Momentous part two. Along with Chubb, Michel gives the Dawgs the best 1-2 punch in all of college football. Sorry Tide fanatics. The duo’s overall influence propels Georgia into a potential SEC Championship and National Playoff contender.
2016 Results: SEC’s 5th leading rusher. 250 carries, 1283 yards, 13 TD’s.
Decision’s impact for the Commodores: Everything. Webb has been the focal point of the Vandy offense for several years. Vanderbilt is poised to have a promising season based off Webb’s decision to return to Nashville.
DECLARED FOR THE NFL DRAFT
Stanley “Boom” Williams-Kentucky
2016 Results: SEC’s 7th leading rusher with 171 carries, 1170 yards, and 7 TD’s.
Draft Status: Undrafted. Williams rolled the dice but was not selected. He did sign an undrafted free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Decision’s impact on the Cats: Pending. The Boom Williams-Benny Snell Show was fun to watch for the BBN as the Wildcats rushed for 3,044 yards in 2016. Williams was the Cats’ homerun threat. Now, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran must find Snell a running mate. The pool is not empty with AJ Rose, Sihiem King, and Bryant Koback pushing to fill Boom’s void.
With a Top 3, SEC offensive line returning; “What could have been” will be a saying that could resonate for all parties involved. Boom left the program 1,324 yards shy of Sonny Collins’ all-time career rushing record.
2016 Results: 103 carries, 596 yards, 9 TD’s in an injury shortened season.
Draft Status: New Orleans Saints’ third round selection.
Decision’s impact on the Volunteers: Severe. Kamara appears to have made the correct decision to enter the NFL after being injured last season. But, the Volunteers will sorely miss his services as he was arguably the hottest SEC RB in the final games of 2016. Butch Jones started last year with the formidable punch comprised of Jalen Hurd and Kamara. Hurd transferred from the program; the latter is now a pro. Couple that will the departure of QB Josh Dobbs and WR Josh Malone; the question posed in an earlier KSR post stands clear. Who’s going to score the touchdowns?
What does all this mean?
These decisions are arguably the division’s most pressing offseason storylines. Chubb-Michel’s surprising decision to return could hand the Dawgs an Eastern title. Ralph Webb’s call to stay in Nashville catapults the Dores into a legitimate threat to win on any given Saturday. Boom Williams’ exit took a jab away from a program with a puncher’s chance to reach Atlanta. Alvin Kamara’s professional declaration was the final exiting piece of a once potent offensive skill group on a team that may struggle to score touchdowns.
Five decisions, four teams, one East title chase prominently impacted.
UP NEXT: All things Governor’s Cup from Frankfort.