According to NFL.com’s Maurice Jones-Drew, Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins is among his NFL rushers set for a second-half breakout:
Indianapolis Colts · RB
Jordan Wilkins is earning the trust of Frank Reich after solid back-to-back performances, in which he rushed for a combined 128 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Leading the Colts in carries in each game after the Week 7 bye, the third-year pro has taken advantage of his growing opportunities due to Jonathan Taylor’s lackluster and turnover-filled rookie campaign. While Taylor figures out how to reclaim his college form, Wilkins looks poised to be the guy in the Colts’ backfield.
Before praising Wilkins though, let’s clarify a bit here.
Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has just one fumble that occurred last weekend, which seems like a far cry from a ‘turnover filled’ debut campaign.
However, Wilkins has been very effective as a change-of-pace back off the bench in recent weeks with 222 rushing yards on 60 carries (3.7 ypc. avg.) and a rushing touchdown on the season during all 8 games. He played in 34% of the team’s offensive snaps last weekend.
The thing about Wilkins is that he has great contact balance and ‘wiggle’ with the ability to break or elude tackles in the hole—to go along with his combination of vision, patience, and decisiveness—featuring the current highest missed tackle percentage in the league:
Highest % of missed tackles forced per rush attempt:— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 10, 2020
Jordan Wilkins - 28%
J.K. Dobbins - 27%
Antonio Gibson - 26%
Dalvin Cook - 25% pic.twitter.com/mQMKci5NUr
Which Wilkins clearly showcased here:
Jordan Wilkins' best run of the day. Should have lost 3 yards. He gained 12 instead. https://t.co/0uKWoYBLzE— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) November 2, 2020
Now, the crowded Colts backfield still looks to me like it’s shaping up to be a committee in the short-term—also featuring Taylor and scatback Nyheim Hines to maximize each running back’s unique skill-set, give opposing defenses differing looks, and keep all rushers fresh throughout the course of the 2020 season.
That being said, Wilkins effectiveness in limited carries cannot be overlooked either, especially with Taylor enduring some recent rookie struggles. Besides Taylor, he’s the Colts’ only natural between-the-tackles running back—and there’s something to be said for that.
Should Taylor continue to hit the proverbial rookie wall, and it’s not out of the question that Wilkins could continue to carve out a more prominent role in the Colts backfield—in what’s already looking like a pure platoon with between-the-tackles work among the pair of Taylor and Wilkins respectively.