When you hear about the St. Louis Rams running back competition, two players come to mind: last year's 2nd round pick that disappointed fans - Isaiah Pead - and this years 5th round draft pick Zac Stacy. However, there's one more player that's usually left out, and that's the player who has had the most success thus far in the NFL - former 7th rounder out of Abilene Christian, Daryl Richardson.
It makes sense when you think about Isaiah Pead, who lost the competition to backup the Rams all-time leading rusher Steven Jackson to Richardson last season. He still possesses the talent the Rams saw prior to the draft that made him a 2nd round pick. Zac Stacy might be a rookie, but unlike Pead and Richardson, he has the size to be used in short yardage situations.
In theory, Pead and Stacy would be a good pair, and the former 7th rounder would end up being just another back who backs those two up, but Evan Silva at Rotoworld believes that Richardson should have a brighter future than that.
Following this one-fell-swoop review of his 122 touches, I think Richardson stands a legitimate chance to be the foundation of St. Louis' rushing attack, if given that opportunity. I think he can be a go-to, lead NFL runner in a spread-type offense the Rams are expected to implement this season.
So why was Richardson's late-season yards-per-carry average so low? It was 4.85 on the year, and 5.54 before those final 17 runs. On game tape, Richardson didn't look gassed or like he'd hit a rookie wall. He looked like the same player. I think a number of factors were at work. For one, the Rams played a murderer's row of stretch-run rush defenses, facing San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Seattle at their place. The 17-run sample size was small. Injuries piled up on St. Louis' offensive line, which allowed a ton of backfield penetration. Richardson still flashed big-play ability on receptions and toss sweeps. He just didn't get any room to run on those final few carries.
The rest of Silva's article can be found here, and it's a really interesting read.
Honestly, I personally think Pead has the best talent out of all the running backs on the roster. If the Rams do run a type of spread/shotgun offense, then it would make sense that the primary battle will come down between Pead and Richardson for the most carries.
Richardson is the most experienced running back in the group, and the other running backs will have to catch up with him.