Darren Sproles didn’t look like an NFL star. Despite an outstanding college career at Kansas State, a 5-foot-6 running back doesn’t project well at the professional level.
The San Diego Chargers selected him in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. All he did was turn into perhaps the most impactful gadget player in the history of the league. He sat sixth in NFL history in all-purpose yards with 19,696 when he retired in 2019.
Eagles Land Darren Sproles
Chip Kelly needed a dynamic offensive weapon entering the 2014 season after an unceremonious divorce with DeSean Jackson. Dealing a fifth-round pick acquired for Isaac Sopoaga wasn’t exactly a steep trade package for the Philadelphia Eagles. Acquiring Sproles turned into one of the biggest steals in franchise history.
Sproles didn’t make his Eagles debut until age 31. However, he made his only three career Pro Bowl appearances in his first three seasons in midnight green.
The spark-plug running back quickly became a fan favorite when he turned the tide for a comeback victory in his first game with the Eagles.
His role in parts of six seasons from 2014-2019 added a luxury option as a potential home-run hitter in the running game. He added versatility in the passing game as a weapon in the slot and out of the backfield, which constantly kept opposing defenses on their toes. His incredible burst as a punt returner also helped him take four to the house as a member of the Eagles.
Memories of Sproles
Sproles played a role as a small speed back that usually came in as a change of pace. However, there were times when he was the best pass blocker of the team’s running backs. He even became the most reliable runner in between the tackles at certain points too.
Lane Johnson stood about a foot taller than Sproles in the huddle, and Jason Peters outweighed the dynamic speed back by about 150 pounds. However, defenders didn’t make the mistake of taking Sproles lightly.
His incredible bursts of speed created some moments Eagles fans will never forget.