Trent Richardson and the 6 Most Exciting RBs in the NFL

Lou Rom@louromliveContributor ISeptember 28, 2012

Trent Richardson and the 6 Most Exciting RBs in the NFL

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    Watching a running back turn something into nothing is one of the most exciting moments in the NFL.

    The bouncer who pops out of the mosh pit to shake tacklers and take it up field; the burner who cuts the corner and is suddenly a blur; the bruiser who carries defenders 15 yards for that desperately needed first down.

    Today's NFL has a handful of backs who make defenses stand up and pay attention. A smaller group still that hold in their hands the power to turn a game around in a nanosecond.

    Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in last year's draft, is already one of them.

    One of the most exciting backs in the league, with blazing speed to match his brutal style of play, Richardson is a game-planning nightmare for opposing coaches.

    Richardson is first in our six pack of great backs in the NFL. Turn the page (going old school here) for the rest of the list.

Trent Richardson: The Next Big Thing

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    Rookie of the year candidate Trent Richardson, when asked about Thursday's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens and linebacker Ray Lewis, said essentially, "bring 'em on."

    The third overall pick in this year's draft, Richardson leads AFC rookies in rushing, and perhaps, confidence.

    And that confidence is not misplaced.

    So far, he's rushed for 222 yards on 64 carries and in Thursday's loss against the Ravens scored his third touchdown in four games against a Ravens rushing defense that came into the game as fourth in the league.

    Richardson, already, is one of the most exciting backs in the league, with 4.4 speed, a bruising style and—as he showed again last night—good hands out of the backfield.

    He needs to work on his consistency, but sometimes those lulls in activity make for excitement when he comes alive and hits the seam just right.

LeSean McCoy Has so Many Tricks Up His Sleeve

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    LeSean McCoy is the McGyver of the NFL. 

    He can do a lot with nothing, and he can do amazing things with just a few tools.

    McCoy had 1,309 rushing yards last year while leading the league with 17 rushing touchdowns. He did so with an overrated offensive line and a quarterback who struggled terribly to stretch the defense even when he had time.

    He can pound you up the middle, burn you to the outside and be careful or he'll turn that five-yard screen pass into six points.

    This year, McCoy already has 261 yards on 58 carries, and is getting better at waiting behind the line for holes to develop. 

    He is as fun of a running back to watch as there is in the game today. Unless it's you're job to defend him.

Maurice Jones-Drew Keeps Chewing Up Defenses

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    How good is Maurice Jones-Drew?

    Last year he took hand-offs from one of the league's lowest-rated quarterbacks and still led the league in rushing—by a wide margin.

    In 2012, Jones-Drew gained 1,606 yards on 343 attempts, scoring eight touchdowns with defenses teeing off on him every single Sunday.

    That's at 4.7 yards per carry clip, which only hints at just how exciting he is when he touches the ball.

    Jones-Drew ate the Colts' defense alive last week, gaining 177 yards rushing on 28 touchdowns, leaving Indy's defenders dazed and confused as if he were live and they were on five-second delay, stuck in a video game world of annoying mods and lag. 

    He is a human wrecking ball, fast, compact, deadly. One of the best of his generation.

Frank Gore Attacks the Game and Defenders with Verve and Guile

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    While one can't quite say that Frank Gore whiled away in obscurity for five years, it wasn't until last year, when the San Francisco 49ers nearly made it to the Super Bowl, that Gore's greatness took the national stage by storm.

    Gore is a brutal, violent back who attacks defenses with the mentality of a free safety teeing off on wide receivers.

    Gore ran for 1,000 yards in five of the last six seasons, and while he may have lost a step since his breakout year of 2006 when he gained over 1,600 yards, he's gained smarts between the hash marks that make him more elusive than ever.

    Watching Gore carry defenders down the field, plow over cornerbacks and shrug off lineman at the point of contact is watching a true expert at work.

    He is an artist, a blue collar Leonardo Da Vinci, who paints with long broad strokes that individually may underwhelm but combined, over time, paint trouble for even the league's top defenses.

Michael Turner, at 30, Is Still a Threat on the Outside

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    Throw the ball to Michael Turner and he looks like a T-Rex picking up diamonds while wearing oven mitts.

    But pop that ball gently into his crossed arms behind the line of scrimmage and Turner is a Jesus Lizard swathed in Stickum dancing gracefully across the water. With a few elbows thrown in for good measure.

    In other words, damn this dude can run.

    Turner has been slicing and dicing up defenses for eight NFL seasons but didn't really get his chance until he joined the Falcons in 2008, then proceeded to run for nearly 1,700 yards and 17 TDs.

    This year, he's off to a slow start—mainly because quarterback Matt Ryan is lighting it up—but, even at 30, Turner is a threat to turn the corner and take it all the way.

    Last year he had 11 runs for 20-plus yards but has yet to break one in 2012. That fact should make defensive units wary.

Adrian Peterson. Need We Say More?

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    So, who's the most exciting back in the NFL?

    Well, who would you want to start for your fantasy team?

    For many, the answer is Adrian Peterson.

    While many of today's better backs are jacks of all trades and masters of none, Peterson is just masterful at everything relevant to grabbing that leather ellipsoid and shoving it down your throat.

    He's elegant and brutal, lightening fast and surprisingly strong, forceful and elusive. He has so much to offer he makes the phrase "triple threat" appear to be an insult.

    In his first four seasons Peterson ran for nearly 1,400 yards rushing per season and has scored double-digit touchdowns every year of his career.

    And, he's just as deadly catching balls out of the backfield and up front, averaging better than 25 catches per year in his career.

    Most importantly, every time he touches the ball defenders know he could be gone.

    He is the running back by which all other backs of his generation will be judged.