This article is part of our Job Battles series.
The blurbs sort by descending alphabetical order of the team location. The players within a blurb are listed from left to right in descending seniority, not favor.
We know Burkhead has earned some substantial role in this backfield, and we can probably assume that James White will go relatively unchallenged in his specialist role as an in-space pass-catching back. What's less obvious is what will be done with the more traditional running back tasks that were left last year to Burkhead, Dion Lewis, and Mike Gillislee. This blurb takes the liberty of presuming Gillislee and Jeremy Hill will not factor into that equation to any notable extent.
So if we imagine Burkhead vs. Michel, will it look the same as Burkhead vs. Lewis? Lewis had established himself as the team's lead runner in the second half of last year, but it took rib and knee injuries to Burkhead to precipitate that outcome. Lewis and Burkhead may have been thought of as equals despite the uneven box scores between the two at year's end.
Burkhead was excellent as a pass catcher, turning 36 targets into 254 yards and three scores on 30 receptions, but his lack of speed limits his upside as a runner, where he has just two career carries of more than 20 yards on 151 attempts. I think Michel could prove a substantial threat to Burkhead's rushing upside, because Michel is just better at it. He's better than