Ranking the AFC East RB rooms: Where do Breece Hall and the NY Jets stand?

Do the Jets have the best RB room in the AFC East?
Breece Hall
Breece Hall / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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1. NY Jets RB Breece Hall is a true superstar leading a promising young unit

The depth chart: superstar Breece Hall leads the way. Rookies Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis are penciled in behind him while veteran Tarik Cohen and second-year back Israel Abanikanda round out the depth chart.

Breece Hall is a star. Capitalize it, underline it, whatever you want to do, but it's the truth. While he's highly regarded among Gang Green faithful and looked upon favorably nationally, he still is somehow underrated.

That star power is what gives the Jets the edge in these rankings. Depth is important, but stars are what wins championships.

So why is Breece Hall perhaps the NFL's most underrated superstar? Well, he's one of, if not the most, gifted and well-rounded ball carriers in the league. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, he shouldn't have 4.38 speed, but he does. He has power. He has elite agility. He has soft hands and the ability to run actual routes.

Hall can do it all, and his 2023 performance is even more impressive when you consider his circumstances.

First, he was recovering from a torn ACL which is the type of injury that can take running backs a full year after recovery to regain their form. Second, his early season workload was limited with a doomed time share with the cooked Dalvin Cook.

Then there's his supporting cast. Hall once again saw his offensive line decimated by injury and ineffectiveness. Aside from four snaps, he played with by far the worst QB situation in the league.

Outside of Garrett Wilson, there wasn't a single receiver threatening enough to loosen up the box for him, and in fact, he ended up playing the role of de-facto No. 2 receiving option.

Hall is a top-three RB in the league. He has the ability to score on any given play whether on the ground or through the air. He's posted numbers that rank amongst the league's best while recovering from a devastating injury and with the league's worst supporting cast.

Despite all of these hurdles, Hall rushed for 994 yards while adding in 76 catches for another 591 yards. His 1585 yards from scrimmage ranked fourth in the league, and the only running back with more was the 49ers' stud Christian McCaffrey.

Now with a revamped offensive line, a reinforced wide receiver corps, and the return of Aaron Rodgers, the rest of the league is on notice.

The early leader in the clubhouse to be the Robin to Hall's Batman is fourth-round rookie Braelon Allen. At 235 pounds, Allen is a hulking presence who one would believe is a pure power back. While power is certainly an element of Allen's game, he's no one trick pony.

Possessing surprising agility and speed for a man of his size, Allen can make plays in a variety of different ways. As he's shown off in OTAs thus far, he's also got soft hands and some receiving chops too.

All of this is to say, he's not just a short yardage back. There's some inconsistency, but also a lot to like, about his technique in pass protection as well. All of this projects to a player who could be a true three-down back.

The caveat with rookies as always applies. It's one thing to show out in padless OTAs, but against real NFL competition things can be very different. Allen will be just 20 years old for the entirety of the 2024 season, and that youth is just another reason to believe in his potential.

Allen isn't the only rookie RB on the team as they also drafted former South Dakota State product Isaiah Davis in the fifth round. Another bigger back and one that truly fits the power mold, Davis seems like a perfect fit in the Jets' new power/gap rushing scheme.

At the FCS level, Davis dominated putting up 1,478 yards and 1578 yards in the last two seasons respectively. That said, he'll be facing an uphill battle making the jump from that inferior level of competition up to the pros.

Davis is less versatile than Allen. A North-South runner he is very much the prototypical "four yards and a cloud of dust" type back. That said, he could carve out a role as a short yardage and goal line back to start while developing his skills over time.

Next on the list is veteran Tarik Cohen, who last appeared in a regular season game in 2020. Injuries and personal tragedies have derailed the former All-Pro return man's once-promising career, and after such a long layoff and several devastating injuries, it's questionable if he has anything left in the tank.

Cohen may be here primarily to compete for the return man job, but he'll be given every opportunity to prove his worth as a running back as well. In his prime, the shifty speedster was an undersized jitterbug, contributing mostly as a receiver and taking hand-offs as the occasional change of pace back.

That has some value, and if he can still produce in that way he will be a nice complement to the other backs on the roster. That might be a long shot, but it sure is hard not to really root for the guy.

Lastly, we arrive at last year's fifth-round pick Israel Abanikanda. Abanikanda failed to earn the coaching staff's trust despite a dire need last season that saw Michael Carter and Dalvin Cook both be released mid-season.

Ball security and pass protection issues plague the speedy Pitt product, and he was largely ineffective with his limited opportunities averaging just 3.2 yards per attempt on 22 carries.

The writing may be on the wall for Abanikanda as he's been working behind Cohen so far in the offseason program. He's also a better scheme fit for the Jets' former preference, wide zone as opposed to the current power running scheme.

The margin for this number one spot is razor thin, and an argument can be made that Miami's more proven depth should leapfrog the Jets. However, stars are what wins championships and no running back in the division is a bigger star than Breece Hall.

Combine that with the unproven, but intriguing depth provided by Allen and Davis, and the Jets edge out the Dolphins to take the AFC East running back crown.

It will be interesting to look back at this after the season and see if the promise of Allen and Davis lived up to the hype, and where all these teams stand once the games have actually been played.