The National Football League may be driven by 5,000-yard passers such as Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and gaudy statistical seasons by receivers such as Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, but there are still more than a few very talented running backs pounding out yardage the old-fashioned way.
Among the very best there is at the position right now is Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, and here's a look at the reasons why the fourth-year pro can lay claim to the title of best running back in the NFL today.
If you built an NFL running back from a kit you'd probably want one that was about six feet tall and tipped the scales at about 220 pounds.
Arian Foster is 6'1" and a sculpted 228 pounds.
However, that brawn hasn't robbed Foster of his wheels, as evidenced by the fact that Foster scored a touchdown from more than 70 yards out in both 2010 and 2011.
That's what you call "big-play ability," and it separates good running backs from great ones.
We've already demonstrated that Foster can run past people, but the 26-year-old is more than capable of running through them as well.
According to Pro Football Focus, Foster averaged an impressive 2.5 yards after contact per attempt in 2011, and he ranked in the top 15 in the NFL in their "elusiveness metric," ahead of the likes of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens.
In today's National Football League, versatility is a big buzzword in the backfield, and having a running back who is an effective receiver can both add another dimension to an offense and also serve as an invaluable safety valve for a quarterback.
Arian Foster's as good as they come catching the ball out of the backfield, averaging almost 60 catches, over 600 receiving yards and two touchdowns each of the past two seasons.
There might not be a position in the NFL that gets hit harder by injuries than running back, and a ball-carrier who is durable is worth his weight in gold.
Foster is just that, especially given his workload.
Yes, Foster missed three games last year and has played hurt on more than one occasion, but three missed games over the past two-plus seasons is pretty darned good for a back who averaged over 350 touches in 2010 and 2011.