In football, a utility player is someone who is able to play more than one position. They are generally on the offensive side of the ball and play a combination of wide receiver and running back.
In recent years, the NFL has become more creative with offenses trying a variety of strategies to gain an edge. One of these strategies involves getting the ball into the hands of the most talented players regardless of how they do it.
It used to be that NFL players were more or less locked into their positions. Running backs ran the ball and caught passes out of the backfield, while wide receivers lined up near the sideline and caught longer passes.
Today, many NFL teams have players who change roles during games.
Example Of WR RB Utility Players
The San Francisco 49ers and their utility player Deebo Samuel are a great example of this. Having been drafted as a wide receiver, Deebo rarely carried the ball in college. However, as soon as he was in the NFL, the coaches noticed how effective he was when he held the ball.
Deebos began lining up in the backfield like a running back to facilitate more carries.
In Deebo Samuels’s third year in the league, he had his most carries as well as his most receiving yards both by a fair margin.
The main weapon on his offense happens to be Deebo Samuel, but utility players are often down the depth chart at both positions.
Although they are often third or fourth receivers and second or third running backs, their versatility and playmaking ability make them valuable to offenses.
There are a number of plays that can be run out of the wide receiver position that are often done by utility players. Jet sweeps are one such play.
A utility player is also much more likely to receive passes when playing running back than a regular running back.
Defensive End Outside Linebacker Utility Player
There can also be utility players on the defensive side of the ball. Micah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys are a shining example of this.
Early in the season, two Dallas Cowboys pass rushers were out due to injury and Covid-19. Parsons started the regular season playing that position.
He filled that role on the defensive line by switching from linebacker to edge rusher. Despite not having much experience at the position, Parsons excelled as an edge rusher.
Parsons is an incredibly talented player who can cause a lot of problems for an offense because he can line up at multiple positions.
A utility player on defense has this advantage.