Power Ranking the Top Rookie Running Backs of 2012
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has all the tools to become the best rookie from the 2012 NFL Draft class, but he's got a ton of competition for that honor.
Trent Richardson, Robert Turbin, Alfred Morris and David Wilson are all going to get an opportunity to play significant roles for their respective teams, and all of them are going to shine.
These rankings will reflect how I think these five players will stack up after the season is over.
So, which rookie running back will shine the brightest in 2012?
5. David Wilson, New York Giants
David Wilson is going to be a star in New York, but at this time, he's playing second fiddle to Ahmad Bradshaw. And, given the fact that the Giants haven't done much to improve the shoddy run-blocking of last season, Wilson isn't going to have a massive impact in his rookie year.
Still, he should see about as much action in 2012 as Kendall Hunter did for the San Francisco 49ers last year, and that means he'll have a solid rookie campaign.
Prediction: Wilson rushes for 400 yards and two touchdowns, chipping in 20 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
4. Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks
Robert Turbin has looked really good in Marshawn Lynch's stead so far this preseason, but Lynch will be the starter once Week 1 rolls around; his back injury isn't expected to keep him out much longer, according to 710 ESPN's Liz Mathews:
Carroll on #Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch "he took a really good turn this week, rehab has been effective... we think he is going to be fine."— Liz Mathews 710 ESPN (@Liz_Mathews) Aug. 29, 2012
Still, Turbin is going to get plenty of carries in order to keep "Beast Mode" fresh throughout the long season, and I expect him to be a viable part of the passing game as well.
Prediction: Turbin carries the ball for 550 yards and four touchdowns, and catches 20 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown.
3. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Alfred Morris has been a breath of fresh air for the Washington Redskins this preseason, and Mike Shanahan continues to prove why it's absolute foolishness to draft a running back in the first round.
Morris, a sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, is coming on like a freight train to take the starting running back spot from the likes of Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, both of whom have struggled to stay healthy.
His performance in Week 3 of the preseason was a revelation of things to come, and I expect Morris to have a big year. The only reason he's not ranked higher is that Shanahan is known for platooning his running backs, thus Morris won't touch the ball as much as the next two on this list.
Prediction: Morris rushes for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns, and catches 30 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns.
2. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
If not for Trent Richardson's need for minor surgery to clean up some cartilage in his knee this preseason, he'd easily be the top dog on this list. As it is, I still expect big things from him in 2012.
Richardson has everything you look for in an elite running back. He has plenty of speed, size and skill to become the next Adrian Peterson-type back in the NFL.
Additionally, Richardson is already blessed with extraordinary patience and vision—traits that will serve him well in years to come. Unfortunately for him, he plays for the Cleveland Browns—a team at least a year or two away from contending for the playoffs.
Prediction: Richardson will rush for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns, and will catch 35 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns.
1. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin is extremely underrated by most people, but he's going to prove his worth once and for all with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.
Blessed with elite vision, size, strength and instincts, Martin will be the league's best rookie running back this season. In addition to his excellent rushing capabilities, Martin is an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield. He reminds me of Frank Gore and Ray Rice, and it won't be long before everyone sees how good this kid is.
Martin's best attribute is that he has a nose for the end zone. He averaged 13.6 carries per touchdown in college (h/t CBSSports.com), and so far he's matched that in the preseason, averaging 13.5 carries per touchdown (h/t NFL.com).
Prediction: Martin rushes for 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns, and catches 40 passes for 350 yards and five touchdowns.