J.D. McKissic is technically listed as the Washington Football Team's No. 2 running back on the depth chart, but anyone who watches him knows his value is much deeper than that.
"J.D. is, I think, a dynamic guy that we've got to really continue to look at how we can...get the ball in his hands," said head coach Ron Rivera.
McKissic, now in his second season with Washington, has been charged with being a dual threat weapon that Washington can utilize in the backfield. He was a spark plug for the team in 2020, and he's been everything it hoped he would be once again in 2021 with 503 total yards. That's why you need to vote McKissic to his first Pro Bowl. Then check out his stats below, and vote again.
"J.D. is very dynamic out of the backfield, and he creates a lot of mismatches," Rivera said. "That's the thing we used last year and we're trying to make sure we use it this year."
So far, McKissic's usage is similar to what he managed through the first nine games of the 2020 season. In that span, he had 62 targets and 43 rushing attempts; this year, he's been targeted 46 times and carried the ball 34 times.
But while McKissic's targets have gone down by about a third, his catch rate has actually improved. He caught 63.2% of his targets through nine games in 2020, but this year he's hauling in 72.8% of his targets. In four of the past nine games, he's had a catch rate of 100%, including eight catches for 83 yards against the Denver Broncos and four for 35 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That means McKissic hasn't dropped a pass since the fourth quarter of Washington's game against the Green Bay Packers, which was nearly a month ago.
"With his athleticism, quickness, his skillset, third down or second and long situations, you can create the type of matchup you can exploit," Rivera said. "And that's what we've seen."
In terms of pass-catching running backs, there aren't many better than McKissic. His 367 receiving yards are third in his position. The only running backs with more yards are D'Andre Swift and Cordarrelle Patterson.
McKissic has also produced two of Washington's best plays of the year so far. The first came against the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football, when his 56-yard catch and run set up a touchdown that gave Washington a one-point lead.
The next came two weeks later against the Atlanta Falcons with his family in attendance. With Washington facing a 34-30 deficit, McKissic ran in a 30-yard reception and dove into the end zone.
"Taylor made eye contact with me and I knew he was about to sling it," McKissic said. "To score a touchdown in front of them is a dream come true," McKissic said.
McKissic has shown time and time again that he's one of the most valuable weapons on Washington's roster. So do him a favor and vote him to his first Pro Bowl.