Looking back to the start of 2015 is rather painful for Detroit Lions fans but to see the full scope of Ameer Abdullah’s time in Detroit it’s necessary to go back to a time when the team was as good as its been in years and a young man from Nebraska had a chance to be the answer to that team’s biggest position of need.
Coming off an 11-5 campaign and a heartbreaking wild card loss, former Detroit Lions GM, Martin Mayhew brought in Laken Tomlinson and Ameer Abdullah to ensure the Lions running game would no longer be a weakpoint on what appeared to be one of the more talented squads in the league. Not everybody was thrilled with the Tomlinson pick, which was touted as an extremely safe pick at the time but a lot of people looked at Abdullah coming out of Nebraska and thought that he could be the guy that finally gave the Lions a franchise tailback that they’d been looking for since Barry Sanders left over 15 years prior.
Myself and many other fans were very excited about Abdullah. He rattled off a sexy 24 yard TD run in his debut against the Chargers and took a kickoff 104 yards at Lambeau Field en route to the first Lions win in Green Bay of my lifetime. Unfortunately, since then his career has been nothing short of a disappointment and he has failed to elevate himself above highly drafted Lions running backs of recent history. Ameer has never been able to eclipse that infamous 100 yard rushing mark in a game and injuries have really taken away from what made him special when he was coming into the league.
His Lisfranc injury from the 2016 season is something that has ruined the careers of running backs before him and makes you question whether he could pull off another shifty TD run like he did in his league debut, what seems like an eternity ago. Below is a spreadsheet I put together prior to the draft when I was trying to decide whether taking Derrius Guice at 20 was necessary (I know… “haha”). This emphasizes how efficient all of the early round backs have been since Abdullah was drafted and boy does he stick out as one of the poorer backs amongst early draftees from the 2015-17 drafts.
Don’t get me wrong, you can’t tell everything about a running back from how many yards per carry they get but Abdullah really hasn’t produced in any major category since he was drafted. On a side note, this spreadsheet is the basis for why I am not drinking the teal green Leonard Fournette kool-aid just yet, feel free to join me.
I was going through game results the other day and one thing that caught my eye was that Mikel LeShoure had a 100 yard rushing game in his career. I like to think that I’m not the only person that didn’t even remember that. Back to Abdullah, of course he has never done this himself, although he has gotten close before. Ameer’s best season was his rookie year and the dropoff, post injury, has been severe. His yards per carry going into last season was a respectable 4.33 and despite the injury there was reason to believe he could possibly keep that up given a larger body of work. Last year he did not recieve what I would consider a large body of work but even with the 165 rushes he got his yards per carry dropped to a less than stellar 3.3.
Lions GM Bob Quinn knows that the team needs a stable backfield and last year was enough evidence for him to effectively pull the plug on the Ameer Abdullah project. With Blount, Johnson, and Riddick all likely to be ahead of him on the depth chart, Ameer Abdullah could see little to no playing time this season and it’s somewhat sad really that another highly picked Detroit Lions running back’s time with the team is fizzling out. More than a couple have showcased potential before being unable to put together a lengthy and successful career in the NFL. I am certain Ameer will be with the team this season as a RB3 or 4 but next year he will get a chance to have a role elsewhere as I think he’s still got the ability to be a role player but he’s probably not in the plans for the Detroit Lions going forward.