Jonathan Grimes and Akeem Hunt rounded out the depth chart at running back last season, but that in no way guarantees either of them a spot on the Texans' roster this year. Bill O'Brien will look to explore every option in training camp and may look to add to the roster via the waiver wire or free agency. Heading into camp, who are the wild card options at running back?
If I asked you to all describe Hilliard in one word, it would probably be "slow." He’s supposedly a power back, but he didn’t demonstrate much of a skill in anything last preseason. Hilliard spent the 2015 season on the practice squad. Hopefully he’s managed to improve, but he lacked vision and his decision-making was poor. Those kinds of mistakes are difficult to correct.
He is a big man at 5’11" and 225 pounds; he was able to power through people in college at LSU. If he’s to stand a chance at making the roster this year, he needs to get back to that. If Hilliard can make a mark as a short yardage power back getting two yards at the goal line, or on third down, he could be useful. No one else on the roster is really that short yardage kind of guy, and we struggled in that respect last year. Remember J.J. Watt running it at the goal line in the playoffs? Let's hope that never happens again.
The chances of Kenny Hilliard making the roster are very slim, though. He didn’t make it last year and he’s got at least three guys ahead of him that did. Can Hilliard have improved that much in a single offseason?
It might be slightly presumptuous to put Thompson on this list, but he may well be the odd man out in Denver with C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman, Kapri Bibbs and rookie Devontae Booker all potentially ahead of him on the Broncos' depth chart. He is reportedly trying to carve out a role as a running back/fullback hybrid. Even that may not be enough to save him. Especially since the Broncos drafted a fullback this year too.
Thompson is another big guy; hence, trying to be a fullback. If he made his way to Houston, Thompson could also fulfill that role of short yardage role to convert third downs or goal line attempts, much like Hilliard.
Speed is the area where Thompson is a step above Hilliard. Thompson ran a 4.57 at his pro day in 2014, which looks lightning quick in comparison to Hilliard's 4.83 at the NFL Combine in 2015. Hilliard did run a 4.71 at his pro day, but even that isn't quick for a RB.
None of the above
It is entirely possible that O'Brien could surprise all of us and choose someone outside of the five guys I have talked about. Toby Gerhart is still a free agent. Guys like Bishop Sankey or Christine Michaels could easily be cut during training camp. There are also lots of undrafted free agents on rosters around the league that we may have had our eyes on in the draft, but were unable to snag. Maybe another veteran running back that surprisingly gets cut during camp. C.J. Spiller, anyone?
All I know is that training camp will result in its usual surprises, and I expect running back to be an intriguing battle.