John Elway on RB Phillip Lindsay: 'I'd take 53 of him'

Thirty-two NFL teams got it wrong. 32. Multiple times.

Only one team could correct the mistake.

As you begin to peruse material, magazines, online mocks, and read transcriptions of general managers blathering at the combine ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, keep this fact in the back of your mind:

256 players were selected in 2018. Phillip Lindsay's name was not called.

It's a comical indictment of every scout, general manager and the entire draft process that a player of Lindsay's caliber was deemed unworthy of even a late-round selection. Twenty running backs were selected. One is having a better statistical season than Lindsay.

Even the Denver Broncos don't get a pass. John Elway selected two running backs in the draft: Royce Freeman in the third round; David Williams in the seventh. Lindsay has outplayed both.

Elway got lucky Lindsay is a Colorado native.

"You know he's a guy that we were looking at him in the sixth and seventh round, he was in our backyard and we were recruiting him and hoping to get him as a CFA and were fortunate to do that," Elway told Orange and Blue 760 on Tuesday.

"Fortunate" is cosmically understating the situation.

Lindsay has become the lifeblood of the Broncos' offense.

The 5-foot-8 rookie runs like an iron fist. Once engaged, Lindsay blasts through opponents, picking up steam on the second level, and gallops away from defenders. His blend of power, speed, tenacity, and willingness to battle for every inch is joyous to watch.

"He's a guy who is an underdog and plays with a chip on his shoulder, and that's what I like about him," Elway said, via the Mile High Report. "I think that his size was the one thing that was his drawback, but you look at his heart and you look at his ability and the speed."

Lindsay has averaged 6.08 yards per carry this season, currently third-most in a single season since 1970, behind only Jamaal Charles (6.38) and Barry Sanders (6.13) and ahead of O.J. Simpson (6.03) and Adrian Peterson (6.03).

In just 12 games, the Colorado product already has the third-most rushing yards in a season among undrafted rookies in the Super Bowl era. He's on pace for 1,250 yards, which would destroy the record (1,104 yards, Dominic Rhodes, Colts, 2001).

At 190 pounds, Lindsay punches above his playing weight against defensive linemen and linebackers and can run away from defensive backs. According to Next Gen Stats, Lindsay reached 20-plus MPH on seven rushes this season, most in the NFL -- no other player has more than five such plays (Saquon Barkley and Tyreek Hill have five each).

Lindsay's 28 runs of 10-yards or more are tied for third-most in the NFL among running backs with Christian McCaffrey, behind only Todd Gurley (33) and Ezekiel Elliott (32). Lindsay has played more than 100 fewer snaps than all three and earned more than 75 fewer carries than the top two.

Oh, and he's one of two RBs with 900-plus rush yards and no fumbles this season (Barkley).

As the Broncos surge toward a possible playoff spot, they are riding the undrafted rookie. In the past three games, Lindsay has gobbled up 346 yards, a whopping 7.86 yards per carry, and five touchdowns. In that span, Denver beat the Chargers, Steelers, and Bengals -- two of which are playoff teams.

Lindsay's 157-yard, two-touchdown performance this past week earned him NFL Player of the Week honors.

When the undrafted rookie had the cojones to ask Broncos star Terrell Davis if he could rock his No. 30 jersey this offseason, some looked sideways. Twelve games later, Lindsay is living up to the legend.

"I'd take 53 of him," Elway said of Lindsay. "The way he plays the game and his attitude towards the game and the competitiveness, he's been absolutely tremendous this year and we're thrilled to have him."

Thrilled and fortunate.

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