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Position Breakdowns: Running Backs

position breakdown

The running back position has been in flux for years. Don't believe me? I know you do but take this little nugget of information…

The Texans haven't had a running back lead the team in rushing in consecutive years since Lamar Miller did in 2016 - 2018. Seeing as though last year's leader Devin Singletary is off to the Giants, a new rushing leader will emerge in 2024. Furthermore, only one RB rushed for 1000 yards over the past six years.

2023 - Devin Singletary (898 yards)

2022 - Dameon Pierce (939 yards)

2021 - Rex Burkhead (427 yards)

2020 - David Johnson (691 yards)

2019 - Carlos Hyde (1070 yards)

2018 - Lamar Miller (973 yards)

Sure, 1600 yard seasons are no longer the norm, but to not have an 1100 yard rusher since Arian Foster in 2014 (!!) is a bit, well, not great. It's more like A LOT NOT GREAT, but you get the point. Things have to change and, thankfully, the addition of Joe Mixon should bolster this position for the foreseeable future.

But, Mixon's arrival can't be the only kick in the backside to the RB position. What else could happen? How does the draft play a role for the running back meeting room? Let's break down the RB position right here.

Returning players currently under contract or extended

Dameon Pierce - 2022 4th round selection

It was, admittedly, a difficult season for Pierce as he struggled to find his rookie campaign form. Over the last third of the season, Devin Singletary took over as the lead back and found the right fit in this offense. Pierce hasn't found his fit…yet. But, now knowing this offensive scheme, Pierce might find that comfort level and become a great asset in the backfield. There will be competition for the number two RB spot for sure, but Pierce has shown he's athletically capable of being a guy that contributes greatly for this 2024 offense.

2023 stats (14 games) - 145 attempts for 416 yards, two TD, 13 receptions for 101 yards, seven kick returns for 225 yards and one 98 yard TD v. Cleveland

J.J. Taylor - 2023 FA signing

The Texans signed Taylor in October after he was waived by the New England Patriots, where he'd been since 2020. He's a mighty mite with some serious quicks. With an additional preseason game this summer/fall, he should have plenty of opportunity to show what he can do in this offense as a multi-dimensional weapon.

2023 stats - No stats

Gerrid Doaks - 2022 FA signing, reserve/future contract signing in January 2024

Doaks spent the entire season on the practice squad for the Texans for the second consecutive season. He then signed a reserve/future contract in January. He's a power back with vision and some juice. He'll have plenty of opportunities to compete for a roster spot in the summer/fall.

2023 stats - No stats

FB Andrew Beck - 2023 FA signing

Quick, name the only Texan player that scored a TD three different ways in 2023. Okay, okay, I gave that one away, but it is true. Beck scored on a run, reception and a kickoff return. Consequently, I bring that statistical nugget up because it underscores the value for a guy that doesn't get a ton of opportunity to handle the ball throughout any given season. But, when he does, he'll make enormously important plays. The KO return against Jacksonville in week three. The TD catch in week 18 against the Colts. I love Beck for all the things he can do for this offense and I'm glad that he's back for year two.

2023 stats (15 games) - five rushing attempts for three yards, one TD, 11 receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns, two kick returns for 94 yards, one 85 yard TD v. Jacksonville in week three. 

FB Troy Hairston - 2022 undrafted rookie

Unfortunately, Hairston was hurt in training camp and was placed on IR, missing the entire season. His return can only help this offense given his hammerhead tendencies as a lead blocker for the tailbacks on the roster.

2023 stats - IR all season, no stats

Recently signed to a contract for 2024

Joe Mixon - formerly of the Bengals - 2024 trade and contract extension

The first 36 hours of the legal tampering period had Texans fans a little off kilter as nearly every free agent running back was choosing sides. And, no one was picking the Texans. However, the Texans had their eyes on Mixon and made a deal for him on the second day, extending his contract a few days later. He's a complete, three down back that the Bengals were willing to trade because they couldn't pay everyone their fair value. That's the only reason because he's got plenty left in the tank. Mixon has already shown how great he in this offense. He's also strong in pass protection, outstanding as a receiver and has as many Super Bowl passing TDs as Dan Marino, Philip Rivers and Dan Fouts combined. He's strong as an ox and will be effective in short yardage situations. He's a threat up the sideline on wheel routes for explosive plays in the passing game. I can't wait to see him in a Texans jersey.

2023 stats (17 games) - 257 carries for 1,034 yards and nine TD, 52 receptions for 376 yards and three TD

Key contributors in 2023, signed elsewhere or still on open market (as of 3/28/2024)

Devin Singletary - 2023 stats (17 games) - 216 attempts for 898 rushing yards, four rushing TD, 30 receptions for 193 yards - update: signed with New York Giants

Dare Ogunbowale - 2023 stats (12 games) - eight attempts for 35 yards, 2 receptions for 18 yards, one massive field goal made on one attempt, seven special teams tackles, one FF, one FR

JH Crush List - Rookies by Texans draft selection THAT MAKE SENSE

Even though the Texans added their bellcow in Mixon and retained Pierce, I still think that the Texans will look at RB in this draft class, even as early as pick No. 42. I just don't think I'd take a RB at 42 and maybe not even No. 59. But, there are plenty of options from the 3rd round on down that could impact this offense in 2024 and beyond.

2nd round - 42nd overall currently


2nd round - 59th overall currently

Jonathan Brooks, Texas (6-0 ⅜, 216 lb)

Trey Benson, Florida State (6-0 ¼, 216 lb)

3rd round - 86th overall currently

Jaylen Wright, Tennessee (5-10 ½, 210 lb)

Will Shipley, Clemson (5-11, 206 lb)

Blake Corum, Michigan (5-7 ¾, 205 lb)

Marshawn Lloyd, USC (5-8 ¾, 220 lb)

Braelon Allen, Wisconsin (6-1 ¼, 235 lb)

4th round - 123rd and 127th overall currently

Isaac Guerendo, Louisville (6-0, 221 lb)

Tyrone Tracy, Purdue (5-11 ⅛, 209 lb)

Ray Davis, Kentucky (5-8, ⅜, 211 lb)

Cody Schrader, Missouri (5-8 ½, 202 lb)

Dylan Laube, New Hampshire (5-9 ⅞, 206 lb)

5th round - No picks currently

MiYan Williams, Ohio State (5-8 ½, 229 lb)

6th round - 188th overall

Rasheen Ali, Marshall (5-11 ¼, 206 lb)

Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State (6-0 ¼, 218 lb)

Kimani Vidal, Troy (5-7 ⅞, 213 lb)

7th round - 238th, 247th & 252nd overall

Deshaun Fenwick, Oregon State (6-2, 222 lb)
Jase McClellan, Alabama (5-10 ⅜, 221 lb)

Austin Jones, USC (5-9 ⅝, 200 lb)

Jaden Shirden, Monmouth (5-8, 187 lb)

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