Anthony McFarland
Teams should gamble on running back Anthony McFarland in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Maryland RB offers rare speed and burst for the position. (DOUG McSCHOOLER / AP)

Everybody wants their version of Austin Ekeler, but the truth is that player isn’t always easy to find. Especially in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. One player that teams should take a flier on is Maryland running back Anthony McFarland. The Terps RB has the tools to be a real X-Factor on offense and won’t cost much to select him. McFarland has a chance to be the perfect change of pace back teams are looking for. Teams should be willing to gamble on Anthony McFarland.

I thought there was a good chance McFarland would bolt into the 2nd or 3rd range eventually after his 2018 season. That season included a 7.9 yard per carry average rushing for 1,084 yards and 4 touchdowns. The game that really put him on the map was a dominant performance against Ohio State. Those are the games against big competition you look for. Against Ohio State, McFarland rushed for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries. He gave Urban Meyer a literal heart attack.

When you watch McFarland, some things stand out. Shifty back who really has that extra burst. The speed isn’t hard to spot and was confirmed at the combine by running a 4.44 at the combine. That’s a terrific time for a running back. McFarland has the best chance to provide that home run ball in this class. He also has some receiving ability and is shifty enough to make plays with space and the ball in his hands.

Isn’t that what you want in a change of pace back? You can see the potential. McFarland should have gotten way more carries than he did but was in a serious time share with Javon Leake and others. It kept McFarland a bit under the radar but at the same time had explosive moments you look for in college. McFarland was better in 2018 compared to 2019, but coaching has a lot to do with that.

McFarland may unfairly get thrown into the small back conversation, but I don’t think that’s fair. He may not be a bulldozer but the Terps back runs hard. McFarland is a shorter back, not a small back. 208 pounds is not uber tiny for being 5-foot-8. I think he has more than enough size that teams shouldn’t be concerned.

If you’re looking for a sleeper running back to take a shot on later on in the draft, Anthony McFarland is your guy. McFarland features rare burst and speed for the position that other backs in this class do not possess. Teams would be wise to take a flier on McFarland because there’s something special here.