One of the better value picks for the Chicago Bears from the 2016 NFL draft was the selection of Indiana RB Jordan Howard in the fifth round. Considered by many draft analysts to be worthy of a day-two pick, the 230-pound bruiser slipped to the Bears in the middle of day three.Howard is joining 32 other first-year players at the Bears’ rookie minicamp and was surprised by the pace of his first NFL practice session.“It was much faster than I thought the pace would be,” Howard said. “I thought it was going to be a lot slower tempo but it was high pace.”
While Jordan Howard immediately beating out Jeremy Langford is possible, I’ve been pretty surprised at how dismissive many in the fantasy community are of Langford’s chances.
If the only two pieces of information I look at are that Langford is the higher overall draft selection (106th for Langford compared to 150th for Howard), and we don’t have workout data for Howard, those things alone make me really reluctant to assume that Howard is the more talented player.
But I guess I’m amazed by this on a regular basis. It’s a regular thing in fantasy to take a draft pick, that if anything means the team isn’t concerned about the position, and then turn it into something where the implication is that the team made this fifth round pick because upgrading running back was so freaking important to them.
I know lots of people hate Langford, and while I don’t really consider myself a member of the pro or con camp, I am trying to pay attention to what will happen in Chicago. I honestly don’t know. Maybe Jordan Howard is awesome and will come in to supplant Langford. The biggest things Howard has going for him are that Langford himself was also a lower draft selection, and then Langford’s rookie year wasn’t great. But yards/carry isn’t a sticky stat, so maybe Langford’s rookie year was just the result of small sample size. It’s also possible that what the team is really doing is waiting for Arian Foster to get healthy, and then they’re going to let Langford and Howard compete for the chance to backup Foster.
For further reading on this topic see Kevin Cole’s excellent piece where he shows that Langford’s low yards per carry probably make him vulnerable in 2016. Matt Freedman also wrote a piece on Jordan Howard back in January and made the case that Howard was really undervalued.