football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart
NFL Draft

Kenyan Drake Has Keys To Cardinals Offense, Can He Make It Go?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 5, 2020
  • Share

Running back Kenyan Drake was given the keys in Arizona, but he hasn’t done a great job of controlling where this team is headed. The Cardinals are coming out of the, more or less, easier part of their schedule .500 with a run game largely bolstered by quarterback Kyler Murray’s efforts.

This is the conundrum with a dual-threat passer—especially one who gets a bulk of their yards on designed runs—but there are times a mobile quarterback and an efficient running back can team up and literally run through, over, and around defenses; the 2019 Baltimore Ravens were a great example of this with Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram providing a 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

Can Murray and Drake have the same effect? Head coach Kliff Kingsbury remained confident in Drake heading into Week 4, but even Kingsbury still wanted to see something more.

“Obviously, we’d like to have some bigger runs in the run game early,” Kingsbury said Sept. 28, the day after the Cardinals lost, 26-23, to the Detroit Lions at home. In that game, Drake finished with 4.1 yards per carry after playing in 68% of Arizona’s snaps. 

Fast forward to Week 4’s contest against the Carolina Panthers, who had given up the 12th-most rushing yards across the NFL entering the game, and Drake finished with 2.7 yards per carry while playing 65% of the team’s snaps in this 31-21 loss. He did leave the game in the fourth quarter with what was thought of as a chest injury but has already returned to practice, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The team was “sluggish,” Murray said after Arizona’s second consecutive loss. He had the bulk of the Cardinals’ rushing yards Sunday after a big 48-yard carry; Murray finished with 78 rushing yards while Drake had 35 and Chase Edmonds had 16.

Now, a quarter of the way through the season, the dependence on Murray to open up the field for himself says less about him and more about Drake’s impact—or lack thereof. Edmonds isn’t a reliable replacement and a run-by-committee approach doesn’t work when a team only has one quality back. The Cardinals’ rushers are also operating behind a meager offensive line; according to Football Outsiders, Arizona ranks 23rd in run blocking. It’s not an ideal environment, but Murray is making the most out of it, and, in turn, a good running back should as well.

Drake is facing a nearly identical situation as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is Murray’s most targeted pass-catcher, and for good reason. However, Hopkins also needs to get involved earlier. This isn’t to compare the two’s skill set. What Hopkins does and can do is unmatched while Drake is still proving that his breakout at the end of the 2019 season can be sustained throughout the entire year. Drake’s current usage, however, isn’t allowing that to happen. He is also a modest pass-catcher, but so far this season he has only accumulated 20 yards (on five catches). Nothing about Drake’s production up to this point stands out, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in an offense with Murray and Hopkins. But the Cardinals would still benefit from Drake opening up the field, without Murray having to do so when he’s scrambling. 

Drake is currently on pace to have his best season to date—on paper—but he’ll need to do more to pass the eye test. So far, his efforts haven’t been convincing. 

Filed In

Related Articles

Written By

The Draft Network