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3 good NFL fits for Michigan RB Hassan Haskins

Can Haskins carve a prominent backup role in the NFL?

2021 Big Ten Championship - Iowa v Michigan Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Hassan Haskins is used to being overlooked. He was recruited to Ann Arbor as a running back, switched to linebacker, and then switched back to running back in 2019 where he began the season as the No. 4 back on the depth chart.

Two years later he would rewrite the Michigan record books and go down as the best running back to dawn the maize and blue in more than a decade.

Last season, Haskins carried the ball 270 times (No. 2 among Power 5 running backs), for 1,327 yards (most by a U-M running back since 2007), and scored 20 rushing touchdowns (U-M program record).

The accomplishment Haskins is most proud of, however, is the five rushing touchdowns he scored against Ohio State — tying the U-M single game mark and setting a rivalry record — in Michigan’s 42-27 victory over the Buckeyes.

The future for Haskins is unclear because his position has become undervalued in the modern day NFL. Most draft projections have Haskins going somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds. Given Haskins’ size (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) and desired skillset of durability, ball security and elite pass protection, I am confident he will find his role at the next level.

Here are three teams that could select Haskins on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.

New Orleans Saints - (Round 4: Pick No. 120; Round 5: Pick No. 161; Round 6: Pick No. 194)

After a recent trade with the Miami Dolphins, the Saints now possess two first round picks, as well as a second- and third-rounder before the third day. Assuming New Orleans addresses its glaring needs earlier in the weekend, that fifth round spot could be the perfect pick for Haskins.

The Saints have one of the best running backs in football in Alvin Kamara, but the drop-off behind him is a cliff. Mark Ingram — who spent his first eight seasons in New Orleans — returned last season out of necessity to provide depth. Entering his 12th NFL season, Ingram’s best days are behind him and the Saints need a more traditional power back to spell Kamara.

Haskins would fill this need perfectly and could even learn from the veteran Ingram about how to adapt to his new role in the NFL.

Los Angeles Chargers - (Round 4: Pick No. 123; Round 5: Pick No. 160; Round 6: Pick No. 195, No. 215; Round 7: Pick No. 237, No. 255, No. 256, No. 261)

Starting running back Austin Ekeler enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2021, accounting for 1,558 total yards and 20 touchdowns. Ekeler has struggled with injuries at times during his young career, but last season was a clear reminder how dangerous he can be when he can stay on the field.

But in order to keep Ekeler healthy and on the field, the Chargers will need a balanced attack to support him. Currently, the two backup running backs are Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III, neither of which set the world on fire in limited action last season.

Haskins would give the Chargers everything they need from a backup running back: power, security, consistency and the ability to protect franchise quarterback Justin Herbert in passing situations.

Buffalo Bills - (Round 4: Pick No. 130; Round 5: Pick No. 168; Round 7: Pick No. 185, No. 204; Round 7: Pick No. 232)

Currently, the Bills are the betting favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook and only need a few pieces to put themselves over the top. One position group in particular — running back — could use some more depth.

Devin Singletary is a serviceable NFL running back, as well as a viable receiving threat out of the backfield. However, the Bills will need more contributions on the ground to ease the rushing burden on quarterback Josh Allen.

Comprising the rest of the room with Singletary are former starter Zack Moss, who registered one carry for zero yards in the playoffs, and Duke Johnson who is on his fourth team at the age of 28.

The Bills cannot keep relying on Allen to be the power back in their rushing offense. Haskins could take over that role and lessen the potential injury risk for Allen. Could you imagine Haskins’ relentless, bruising style in a snowy playoff game in Buffalo? It could cause an opposing team to have flu breakout.

Other teams to keep an eye on: San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins