There’s been some buzz about Kenneth Gainwell, the running back out of Memphis the Eagles selected in the fifth round. Nick Sirianni says he’s sees some similarities between Gainwell and Nyheim Hines.

That’s modestly interesting. And certainly, add Gainwell to the lengthy list of guys to take a look at in the preseason games. But I’m not optimistic it will amount to much of anything this year.

Passing downs work is complex, with route running, protections and adjustments made at the line of scrimmage. It’s rare to see running backs excelling in that role, and it’s particularly unusual for a player drafted in the fifth round.

In the past 20 years, 25 running backs have caught at least 40 passes in a season. Only five of those guys were players selected after the third round. Only one who wasn’t chosen in the first four, and as luck would have it he played last year (James Robinson, who wasn’t drafted at all).

I chose 40 catches as the cutoff on this one, by the way, because I think that’s probably what you would need to reach to get on people’s radar as fantasy prospect. If a player caught 35 passes and ran for 200 yards, with perhaps 3 TDs, that’s not getting on a roster in most leagues.

If we’re drafting today and about 80 running backs are being chosen, I’m not picking Gainwell.

YearPlayer (Rd)RecYardsAvgTD
2018Saquon Barkley, NYG (1)917217.94
2006Reggie Bush, N.O. (1)887428.42
2017Alvin Kamara, N.O. (3)8182610.25
2017Christian McCaffrey, Car. (1)806518.15
2008Matt Forte, Chi. (2)634777.64
2015Duke Johnson, Cle. (3)615348.82
2001LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D. (1)593676.20
2010Jahvid Best, Det. (1)584878.42
2013Giovani Bernard, Cin. (2)565149.23
2017• Tarik Cohen, Chi. (4)533536.71
2017Kareem Hunt, K.C. (3)534558.63
2012Trent Richardson, Cle. (1)513677.21
2008Steve Slaton, Hou. (3)503777.51
2019Miles Sanders, Phil. (2)5050910.23
2020• James Robinson, Jac. (FA)493447.03
2011• Roy Helu, Was. (4)493797.71
2012Doug Martin, T.B. (1)494729.61
2003• Domanick Davis, Hou. (4)473517.50
2020D'Andre Swift, Det. (2)463577.82
2006Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac. (2)464369.52
2015• Javorius Allen, Balt. (4)453537.82
2013LeVeon Bell, Pitt. (2)453998.90
2008Chris Johnson, Ten. (1)432606.11
2009LeSean McCoy, Phil. (2)403087.70
2006Joseph Addai, Ind. (1)403258.11

—Ian Allan