More Sports:

February 28, 2023

Can Kenny Gainwell step up as the Eagles' lead RB?

The Eagles need to restock at running back, but that also creates the opportunity for Gainwell to take on more.

With Miles Sanders' and Boston Scott's contracts both up, the Eagles are heading into the heart of the offseason with an obvious need at running back. 

General manager Howie Roseman does intend to add at the position over the next couple of months with the draft and free agency approaching, but there is opportunity from within.

Mainly, is it Kenny Gainwell's time to step up as a lead running back?

"Yeah, Kenny's an impressive young player," Roseman said from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday. "When you watch him and you watch his skillset, he's got a really good vision, he's got the ability to get small and get skinny, he can catch the ball, he can protect. He's a good player."

Gainwell, who will turn 24 next month, mostly underwhelmed in his second pro season. He scored four touchdowns but rushed for just 240 yards on 53 carries while never cracking more than 40 yards on the ground in any of the 17 regular-season games. 

"Playoff Gainwell" was a different animal, however. 

He went off on the Giants in the divisional round for 112 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, then helped chip away at a spent 49ers squad in the NFC Championship with 14 carries and 48 yards on the ground, plus 26 more yards through the air on two receptions. 

Sanders, who right now seems increasingly unlikely to return, led the Eagles' rushing attack this past season with a career-best 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, the Eagles got to the Super Bowl with a run game that was balanced between Sanders, Gainwell, Scott, and quarterback Jalen Hurts, all while being protected by one of the league's best offensive lines. 

The path for Gainwell, a fifth-round pick out of Memphis in 2021, to grow and take on more responsibility is there, and Roseman believes he has far from played his best football yet. But at the same time, the Eagles' GM knows he isn't going to carry the position alone. 

"We've also seen in this league, you need more than one," Roseman said. "It's hard to roll with just one running back in this league, so I think we're happy with Kenny. Know also that he hasn't hit his ceiling yet. Obviously, he had a good playoff run, but it's a position we're going to continue to add at. 

"We don't have a lot of guys under contract right now, so we'll continue to look at players at that position and a lot of positions."

With a long list of pending free agents and a new contract for Hurts on the horizon, replenishing running back depth through trades and signings may prove difficult over the offseason. But the Eagles do have two first-round picks this April and four selections within the draft's first three rounds overall, with plenty of talent to scout this week in Indy

MORE: Key dates and resources for the Eagles' offseason

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports