The Bears’ wave of running backs got a little bigger after the team selected Indiana’s Jordan Howard in the fifth round with the 150th overall selection on Saturday.
At 6-0 and 230 pounds, Howard adds a different dimension than second-year starter Jeremy Langford, who is valued for his speed. Howard is considered a punishing runner with good vision.
“I feel like my size will benefit me well because guys they won’t want to tackle me a lot of times, especially after long games, when we’ve just been pounding,” Howard said. “They then start diving, and then I can avoid them. It works very well for me.”
NFL Network’s panel of analysts spoke very highly of the Bears’ pick of Howard, a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season after running for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns. He was considered a possible Day 2 selection by some draft analysts.
“Jeremy Langford, buckle up, man, you’ve got some competition coming to town,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.
Howard began his college career with Alabama-Birmingham, which shut down its football program before the 2015 season. Before leaving, Howard set a school record with 1,587 rushing yards in his sophomore season. He also scored 13 touchdowns.
“It was crazy,” Howard said. “We had been hearing rumors that they might shut the program down, but when it actually happened, we couldn’t believe it. We finally had a winning season and were bowl eligible, and when that happened, we were just crushed.”
Despite better competition in the Big Ten, Howard became an immediate contributor for the Hoosiers.
“Coming out of high school, I had one offer to play at UAB in Conference USA, so I definitely wanted to prove I could play on a bigger stage,” Howard said. “And I was doing it for UAB because they shut the program down. I wore my heart on my sleeve for them.”
There are concerns about Howard’s durability after he missed games last season because of ankle and knee injuries. But he feels he ready for the NFL.
“I feel like I’m a grinder,” Howard said. “I can get those tough yards, and in the NFL, you don’t really see those long, explosive runs like you see in college. There are a few, but not many, so I feel my game suits the NFL more than it does college.”