NFL

B/R NFL 1000: Top 90 Running Backs

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 13, 2014

B/R NFL 1000: Top 90 Running Backs

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    Editor's note: This is the eighth installment in Bleacher Report's NFL 1000 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through April 24, with NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the NFL 1000 page for more rankings.

     

    Want to start a fight in a bar? Go to Minneapolis and tell fans that Adrian Peterson isn’t the best running back in the NFL.

    But wait. Is he? And what constitutes being the best? Is it production? Or talent? Or maybe a combination of both? Who was the best running back in the NFL during the 2013 season?

    That’s what the NFL 1000 aims to identify. Throw out the narratives and the fantasy football stats, and dig into the film. Then we’ll see who comes out on top.

    The B/R 1000 metric is based on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance, on a 100-point scale.

    Potential is not taken into consideration. Nor are career accomplishments.

    Running backs are judged on power (25 points), speed (25), vision (40) and receiving ability (10), along with all of the technique, athletic ability and football intelligence needed to do each.

    In the case of ties, our team asked, "Which player would I rather have on my team?", and set the rankings accordingly.

    Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.

    Each player was scouted by me and a team of experienced evaluators, with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team.

     

    All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Players' heights, weights and seasons courtesy of NFL.com.

90. Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

     

    Power

    20/25

    Matt Asiata (6'0", 234 lbs, two seasons) is a big back with obvious strength, but he submits to contact rather than fighting through it. He needs a more aggressive running style to get the most out of his sheer size.

    Speed

    12/25

    He showed some agility during his short time on the field, but there was a notable lack of explosiveness, and his cuts labored at times.

    Vision

    23/40

    Too often Asiata initiated contact with a defender when he had space to run into. There were times when he showed the ability to set up his blocking and find holes, but those were overshadowed by his negative plays.

    Receiving

    3/10

    The sample size is minuscule, but Asiata showed an ability to catch the ball with his hands away from his body after lining up out wide. Most importantly, he showed that he understood how to catch the ball in order to best set up his YAC. One drop came on a play when he attempted to do that.

    Overall

    58/100

    Asiata doesn't look like an NFL starter, but he did show some positives in 2013. With the right development, he could become a valuable contributor for a team in a limited role.

89. Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

     

    Power

    17/25

    Chris Ogbonnaya (6'0", 225 lbs, four seasons) isn't a strong runner and doesn't make any real impact when he meets defenders.

    Speed

    19/25

    He is shifty enough to find space between the tackles and has some breakaway speed, but Ogbonnaya is not a special athlete by any measure.

    Vision

    20/40

    When a player is in a bit-part role, it is tougher to analyze his vision. Ogbonnaya showed no hesitation, but he also wasn't setting up blocks or making decisions repeatedly throughout any game.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He is a third-down back who lacks diversity in his usage, isn't a special athlete and drops passes. He is not a valuable third-down back.

    Overall

    59/100

    Ogbonnaya didn't have a huge amount of exposure. He is a forgettable player who didn't take advantage of the opportunities that came his way.

88. Fozzy Whittaker, Cleveland Browns

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

     

    Power

    18/25

    Fozzy Whittaker (5'10", 202 lbs, one season) is willing to initiate contact and be aggressive with defenders, but he simply doesn’t have the requisite size to break tackles at this level of football.

    Speed

    21/25

    Whittaker isn’t a special athlete by any measure, but he did show some quickness and an impressive short burst during his limited time on the field.

    Vision

    18/40

    Whittaker’s inconsistency killed his rating here. He didn’t have enough time on the field to make up for the mistakes he did make. At times, he missed obvious reads on the second level, while on other occasions he set up his blocking perfectly behind the line of scrimmage. He needs to eradicate the bad mistakes and prove his consistency over a prolonged period.

    Receiving

    3/10

    His numbers don't support it, but Whittaker did at least make a number of quality plays as a receiver in 2013. On occasion, he looked like a wide receiver with a number of very impressive hands-catches, often on slightly inaccurate passes. There is some potential here.

    Overall

    60/100

    His grade for the 2013 season may not be high, but Whittaker showed the talent that should land him an opportunity to be a third-down back for someone in the future.

87. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears

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    Power

    15/25

    Michael Bush (6'1", 245 lbs, six seasons) is a goal-line back, but he runs too tall and is too top-heavy in his build. His own weight works against him, and he doesn't keep his legs moving through contact.

    Speed

    15/25

    Most of Bush's runs come between the tackles. He is primarily a straight-line runner who doesn't cut back with speed or show elusiveness when given any kind of space. He showed some breakaway speed late in the season against the Cowboys and Browns, but those plays came against poor defenses and were not reflective of his season as a whole.

    Vision

    27/40

    Too often Bush just ran into blockers and defenders instead of looking to attack gaps. Even as a goal-line back, he was too hasty in his movements.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He had multiple drops on very few targets and was not a threat in space. When the Bears threw to Bush, it was typically a victory for the defense.

    Overall

    60/100

    Outside of when Matt Forte needed to catch his breath, there was no reason for the Bears to put Bush on the field.

86. Jackie Battle, Tennessee Titans

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    Power

    22/25

    In previous seasons, Jackie Battle (6'2", 240 lbs, seven seasons) was a big back instead of a powerful back. He was too tentative and submitted to contact instead of fighting through it. In a short-yardage role for the Titans in 2013, he took a more aggressive approach. He didn't consistently move the pile, but he did convert many third downs and ran right over a safety more than once.

    Speed

    16/25

    Battle is too tall and top-heavy to have any real speed or agility.

    Vision

    20/40

    There weren’t many opportunities for Battle to show off his vision within his role. When he did get opportunities, he too often ran into piles instead of space.

    Receiving

    4/10

    He caught the passes that came his way and made one big play, but there were very few passes thrown in his direction.

    Overall

    62/100

    It's clear that Battle fit the role he was asked to fill for the Titans. However, it's also clear that he shouldn't be asked to take on a more expansive role.

85. Cyrus Gray, Kansas City Chiefs

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    John Cordes/Associated Press

     

    Power

    17/25

    Cyrus Gray (5'10", 206 lbs, two seasons) is a strong player who plays a little bit too tall. He could break more tackles with a lower, more aggressive running style.

    Speed

    22/25

    While he obviously doesn't have the breakaway speed of teammate Jamaal Charles, Gray can be an explosive player. His quickness behind the line of scrimmage is impressive, but he would likely fit best as a one-cut runner.

    Vision

    20/40

    Gray needs to be quicker in order to recognize and react to running lanes. He sees cutback opportunities, but he doesn't anticipate them.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He is able to work as a receiver out of the backfield, but Gray isn't very elusive in space and has limited ball skills.

    Overall

    62/100

    Gray has played sparingly during his two-year career. He doesn't appear set to break out and will likely be competing for his roster spot next season.

84. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

     

    Power

    17/25

    Brandon Bolden (5'11", 220 lbs, two seasons) plays with a low pad level and is aggressive when initiating contact. He uses his low center of gravity to keep his momentum moving forward, but he won't consistently break tackles because of his power.

    Speed

    18/25

    Although he is not an exceptionally fast player, Bolden has above-average quickness, good acceleration and enough long speed to break off big runs. Sometimes, though, he overestimates his own speed and tries to break off bigger gains when he should have been more aggressive inside.

    Vision

    24/40

    Inconsistency was the main issue here. Bolden showed an understanding of how to set up holes with patience and awareness, but he made too many bad decisions.

    Receiving

    3/10

    Bolden has the ability to play in space and can be effective after the catch, but he dropped too many passes in 2013.

    Overall

    62/100

    His physical talent is obvious, and he hasn't been in the league for that long, but Bolden will likely be competing for a roster spot again next season.

83. Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams

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    Tom Gannam/Associated Press

     

    Power

    17/25

    Benny Cunningham (5'10", 217 lbs, one season) isn't a big, imposing runner. He relies more on his speed to gain yardage. However, he also isn't a back who will allow himself to be punished. He doesn't shy away from contact and can deliver hits to defensive backs.

    Speed

    19/25

    Cunningham has a good burst of acceleration and breakaway straight-line speed. However, he is not overly agile and doesn't adjust quickly behind the line of scrimmage. Cunningham has his most success if he is already in space when he gets the ball.

    Vision

    18/40

    Zac Stacy took over as the Rams' feature back last season because he could create yards out of nothing. Cunningham doesn't do that. He is a point-and-go runner who doesn't manipulate the defense or show great vision.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Cunningham has the skill set that suggests he can be a valuable receiving option. His natural ball skills and speed will continue to allow him to be effective in space like he was in 2013.

    Overall

    62/100

    It was an unspectacular first season for Cunningham, but it was not necessarily a bad one. He has tools to build upon, and he could develop into a good role player for the Rams.

82. Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins

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    Power

    19/25

    Daniel Thomas (6'1", 235 lbs, three seasons) is strong enough to kick his way through arm-tackles, but he doesn't carry enough bulk to break through bodies at the line of scrimmage. He does look to get the most out of his size by lowering his pads into tackles and being aggressive through contact.

    Speed

    16/25

    Thomas should ideally play in a zone-blocking-based run game. He is best suited to be a one-cut runner, because he has an impressive burst but underwhelming agility. He is not very fluid in his hips, so he doesn't make subtle moves behind the line of scrimmage.

    Vision

    22/40

    Thomas was limited in how he set up his runs and manipulated the defense last season, but what he did do, he did well. He routinely made the right decision behind the line of scrimmage and was aggressive once he had picked the right lane to attack. He was often swallowed up by defenders because of an overwhelmed Dolphins offensive line that gave him nowhere to go.

    Receiving

    6/10

    He was a rarely used option out of the backfield, but he was reliable when called upon.

    Overall

    63/100

    The situation for running backs in Miami wasn't great in 2013, but Thomas was able to have his stretches of production. He isn't an overwhelming athlete, so he may have limited potential, but the talent to be a valuable contributor at this level is there.

81. James Starks, Green Bay Packers

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    Power

    20/25

    James Starks (6'2", 218 lbs, four seasons) is taller than he is big. However, he is a strong back who will break arm-tackles at times. He needs to be more consistent with how he finishes runs and play with more aggression through contact.

    Speed

    17/25

    He's faster than quick, but he's still not that fast. Starks’ main issue is a lack of fluidity when changing direction. He is unable to subtly turn from running lane to running lane behind the line of scrimmage or slide past defenders in space. He also makes too many unnecessary movements.

    Vision

    22/40

    Although he finds the right hole more often than not, Starks doesn’t anticipate the movement of defenders. This prevents him from consistently setting up blocks or manipulating defenders on the second level.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Starks was rarely used as a receiver. Although he was reliable when targeted, he didn't show any real dynamic ability or versatility.

    Overall

    64/100

    Starks is unlikely to be a factor for the Packers moving forward because of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. However, he should be able to find a role as a contributor elsewhere. He has no obvious weaknesses, but he also has no notable strengths. He is an average all-around player.

80. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams

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    Power

    13/25

    Daryl Richardson (5'10", 206 lbs, two seasons) is a back who seeks out and aggressively initiates contact, but he’s too small and slender to make any real impact.

    Speed

    16/25

    Richardson is quick, but not exceptionally quick. He has the speed to get down the field when opportunities arise, but he won't often make defenders miss, and he won't extend runs to the end zone.

    Vision

    31/40

    His vision is impressive. He understands how to set up running lanes and make good decisions quickly. Unfortunately, his vision is made to look worse than it really is, because he lacks any physical traits to exploit the defense.

    Receiving

    4/10

    A few drops affect what otherwise would be a good showing for Richardson as a receiver. He doesn't intimidate the defense, but he can move around the field and make receptions in different ways.

    Overall

    64/100

    Richardson’s opportunity to become a starter came this season. While he didn't play poorly against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, he still looked like a backup running back, and it was no real surprise that Zac Stacy eventually took his starting spot.

79. Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons

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    Power

    22/25

    Jason Snelling (5'11", 234 lbs, seven seasons) has a well-crafted frame and an aggressive running style that allows him to punish defenders through contact. Snelling showed a skill set that suggests he should be an excellent goal-line back.

    Speed

    13/25

    Snelling's biggest weakness is his lack of speed. He is fast enough when running in a straight line, and he can sustain that speed through one cut. However, his agility leaves a lot to be desired, and his acceleration is only adequate.

    Vision

    24/40

    The veteran runner generally makes good decisions and, at times, he showed off the ability to manipulate defenders who were engaged with his offensive linemen. He needs to be more consistent with setting up his blocking, though, in order to get the most out of it on a snap-to-snap basis.

    Receiving

    6/10

    He looks like an atypical receiving back because of his size, but Snelling isn’t a one-dimensional player. He is a natural hands-catcher, and he is generally a mismatch against defenders when put in space because of his power.

    Overall

    65/100

    Snelling is a role player who didn't play that much for the Falcons in 2013. However, he did show his talent when he got opportunities.

78. Peyton Hillis, New York Giants

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

     

    Power

    20/25

    Peyton Hillis (6'2", 250 lbs, six seasons) is a big back, but he’s not as powerful as his size suggests. Hillis is a timid runner who doesn’t keep his feet moving through contact. He plays much smaller, trying to beat defenders with his quickness rather than his bulk.

    Speed

    15/25

    While he doesn't have home-run speed or exceptional acceleration, Hillis is more agile than he initially appears. This showed up most when he ran routes out of the backfield.

    Vision

    22/40

    With the Giants, Hillis appeared to predetermine where he was going before the snap. He is a point-and-run player who doesn’t adapt to his blocking. Hillis showed no patience to set up his blocking or creativity to find space.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Although he only had a small sample size in 2013, Hillis proved to be a good receiving option. He didn't consistently line up out wide and run a variety of routes, but he was a natural hands-catcher out of the backfield.

    Overall

    65/100

    Hillis has the ability to be a third-down back. He should be able to find a spot on a roster that allows him to contribute, but it's unlikely he'll ever be one of the better players in that role in the NFL.

77. Da'Rel Scott, New York Giants

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

     

    Power

    17/25

    Da'Rel Scott (5’11", 210 lbs, three seasons) isn't a very strong, impactful runner. He has a slender but stout frame that allows him to be aggressive against contact without breaking many tackles.

    Speed

    24/25

    Scott is quick and has the breakaway speed to make plays in space.

    Vision

    20/40

    It wasn't easy to run behind the Giants offensive line in 2013. Scott didn't help himself, either, because he was too quick to attack any potential running lanes. He often ran into his own blockers due to the fact that he didn't show enough patience.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Including that infamous interception on a pass intended for him from Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, Scott and Eli Manning never appeared to be on the same page in the passing game in 2013.

    Overall

    66/100

    He is still a relatively young player, but Scott has yet to establish himself as he enters his fourth season. He will likely have to fight for any type of role in 2014.

76. Bilal Powell, New York Jets

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    Power

    18/25

    Bilal Powell (5'10", 204 lbs, three seasons) isn't a physical runner and doesn't carry enough bulk to consistently break tackles through contact.

    Speed

    17/25

    Powell is quick, but he doesn't have the speed to take advantage of vast areas of space or outrun defenders who are in good position. His quickness alone allows him to be productive, though. He can fluidly skip around defenders and find his way through gaps in the offensive line with ease.

    Vision

    27/40

    Rarely does Powell miss open running lanes, and he is seemingly always aware of any defenders who get quick penetration through the line of scrimmage. He doesn't create much yardage on his own, but he does not let the work of his offensive go to waste.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Powell had a number of drops in 2013, and he's not an explosive or a dynamic option out of the backfield.

    Overall

    66/100

    It's unlikely that Powell will ever be a full-time starter in the NFL, but he is smart enough and elusive enough to be part of a committee approach at the position.

75. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Power

    20/25

    Jonathan Dwyer (5'11", 229 lbs, four seasons) is a powerful back, demonstrating that skill in short-yardage situations during the 2013 season. His problem is that he is not consistently aggressive enough as a runner to get the most out of that power.

    Speed

    17/25

    Dwyer is not a fast runner, but his biggest issue is his lack of agility. He has some straight-line speed, but he takes too long to turn or cut to get through holes consistently. He doesn’t make defenders miss in space.

    Vision

    25/40

    The former college fullback is a decisive runner who will attack the hole when he sees it, but too often he makes the wrong decision. He doesn't set up blocks well and doesn't anticipate how the defense will react to his movement.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Dwyer is not a threat in space or a versatile receiver. He can't run routes to lose defenders from the slot or from out wide.

    Overall

    66/100

    At best, Dwyer figures to be a backup throughout his career. He was actually cut before the beginning of last season, but got another chance with Pittsburgh after Isaac Redman struggled. 

74. Edwin Baker, Cleveland Browns

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

     

    Power

    17/25

    Edwin Baker (5'8", 215 lbs, one season) is a small player, but he isn't scared of contact. Much like Ray Rice, Baker is willing to attack bigger defenders and fight for forward momentum from play to play.

    Speed

    21/25

    He doesn't have great breakaway speed, but Baker is quick and has good acceleration. He changes direction with ease and doesn't slow down when attacking the line of scrimmage.

    Vision

    20/40

    Baker wasn't getting easy yardage on every snap he played. He often was forced to fight and adjust behind the line of scrimmage. He showed quick reactions and good vision at times, but he needs to show it consistently for a prolonged stretch.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Baker is a willing hands-catcher who showed the potential to make plays in space. He needs a greater sample size moving forward, but the talent is there.

    Overall

    66/100

    It was tough for Baker to make an impact in the two games when he carried the load in 2013, as he was often having to adjust to good defensive play. He made some bad decisions, but he proved he has potential to play in this league.

73. Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals

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    Power

    19/25

    Stepfan Taylor (5'9", 216 lbs, one season) isn't a big back or someone who powers through tackles. He is willing to initiate contact, but he didn't keep working his feet through the tackle in 2013.

    Speed

    16/25

    Taylor is a quick, fluid athlete. He has enough acceleration to quickly get through the line of scrimmage. He didn't have many opportunities to break away on the second level, but he also didn't appear to have much straight-line speed.

    Vision

    23/40

    The sample size is much too small, but Taylor showed a lot of promise in this area in 2013. He combined patience and decisiveness to consistently get the most out of his blocking.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Taylor was reliable when targeted, but it should be noted that he wasn't featured much in the passing game.

    Overall

    66/100

    There is clearly NFL talent there, but he has a long way to go before he establishes himself as a worthy starter in the NFL.

72. Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts

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    Power

    22/25

    Still one of the most powerful players in the NFL, Trent Richardson (5'9", 225 lbs, two seasons) breaks tackles with ease. It's this trait that will make him a valuable goal-line back for a long time, despite his failings as a feature back.

    Speed

    13/25

    Once he gets up a head of steam, he's fast in the open field, but his lack of quickness through the line of scrimmage is the biggest reason why he is failing as a runner.

    Vision

    25/40

    He doesn't get many holes behind the Colts' awful offensive line, but he missed too many of the opportunities he did get. He's not patient or decisive enough when he needs to be. This may change the longer he is in the league, but right now, he's simply not a smart runner.

    Receiving

    6/10

    Although he doesn't look like your typical receiving back, Richardson is actually a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. He had a few drops and isn't versatile enough to move around the formation, but he's definitely a threat in the receiving game.

    Overall

    66/100

    Richardson obviously has plenty of talent, and he's not as bad as his statistics indicate. His status as a No.3 overall draft pick will hang over his head throughout his career, but at worst, he will be a valuable goal-line back and maybe a third-down option if the Colts move to a more expansive offense. It's still much too early to completely write off the former Alabama running back.

71. Tashard Choice, Indianapolis Colts

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    Power

    19/25

    Tashard Choice (5'10", 210 lbs, six seasons) isn't a dominant runner, but he does have good power for his size. His combination of quickness and power keeps defenders off balance in space and allows him to knock them backward.

    Speed

    16/25

    Although he has impressive quickness, Choice lacks breakaway speed and doesn't accelerate quickly through holes.

    Vision

    24/40

    Choice needs to show more awareness on the field. He was too quick to put his head down and initiate contact when running between the tackles.

    Receiving

    8/10

    He gets a high grade here because of his flexibility and natural hands-catching ability, but it should be noted that he had more than one drop in 2013.

    Overall

    67/100

    Choice is a player who figures to have a relatively long career as a backup without ever making a sustained impact on the field.

70. Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants

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    Power

    21/25

    A lack of leg power is all that limits Brandon Jacobs (6'4", 264 lbs, nine seasons). He is a top-heavy runner who uses his bulk to finish plays moving forward, but he doesn’t power through contract or break arm-tackles consistently because of his lack of leg power.

    Speed

    17/25

    He is no home-run threat when he finds space, and he lacks ideal agility, but Jacobs has a burst that allows him to be effective between the tackles or outside. He'll get to the second level in a hurry, but he generally doesn't go much farther.

    Vision

    26/40

    The biggest knock on Jacobs throughout his career has been his tentativeness as a runner. Too often he ran like a small back and was caught because of it. In 2013, he had a different attitude. He was decisive and aggressive while still being aware of potential cutback opportunities.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He's never been a reliable or dangerous receiver, and 2013 was no exception.

    Overall

    67/100

    Jacobs gave the Giants offense what it needed in 2013: an effective running back. Even though he was effective, he was also limited in his final season.

69. Felix Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Power

    18/25

    Felix Jones (5'10", 215 lbs, six seasons) isn't an exceptionally powerful back, but he doesn't take much punishment, either. He can push defenders backward when he has favorable positioning.

    Speed

    18/25

    A quicker-than-fast back who showed precise feet when working between the tackles, Jones' ability to quickly cut behind the line of scrimmage allowed him to be consistent as a complementary back.

    Vision

    28/40

    In his sixth season, at 26 years of age, Jones appeared to be a refined runner. He found holes well and was decisive when opportunities arose. But most impressive was his ability to set up his blocking with his movement behind the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Jones has the ability to be a good receiving back, but he had too few opportunities to show that in 2013.

    Overall

    68/100

    A lack of exposure on the field keeps Jones' grade down. That's not to say he deserves an opportunity to start, but he should stay on an NFL roster if he continues to perform like he did in 2013. 

68. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

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    Power

    16/25

    Ronnie Hillman (5'10", 195 lbs, two seasons) is a slight runner who relies on his speed more than his strength. Hillman is easy to bring down with arm-tackles and doesn't consistently gain forward momentum through contact.

    Speed

    20/25

    If Hillman is to establish himself as a valuable player, he will likely need to rely upon his quick feet and short-area burst. He doesn't have great breakaway speed, but he won't need it if he can consistently use his quickness to elude defenders at the line of scrimmage.

    Vision

    23/40

    The most impressive thing about Hillman's vision is his decisiveness. When he plants his foot and goes, he is very effective. However, he does hesitate a bit too often and doesn't yet appear to understand how to set up running lanes.

    Receiving

    9/10

    Any back in Peyton Manning's offense will be asked to catch the ball. Hillman is a comfortable receiver who proved to be reliable in 2013.

    Overall

    68/100

    There is obviously talent there, but Hillman needs to put his consistency together on tape if he is to have a greater role in the Broncos offense in 2014. That's even after considering that Knowshon Moreno may leave via free agency.    

67. Justin Forsett, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Power

    16/25

    Justin Forsett (5'8", 194 lbs, six seasons) is a below-average athlete who doesn't play with an exceptionally aggressive approach. That limits his impact in contact situations.

    Speed

    19/25

    Forsett is shifty enough to make adjustments behind the line of scrimmage and get through holes in the line. But he lacks breakaway speed and doesn't have notably impressive acceleration.

    Vision

    23/40

    At this stage of his career, Forsett's vision is unlikely to improve. He is inconsistent in his decision-making and doesn't excel at manipulating defenders with his movement.

    Receiving

    10/10

    If he had more breakaway speed, Forsett would be a highly sought-after commodity for his receiving ability. He is versatile and reliable working out of the backfield and can move outside to run routes.

    Overall

    68/100

    Forsett is a decent role player who lacks the athleticism to be a real game-changer.

66. Alfonso Smith, Arizona Cardinals

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    Power

    18/25

    Alfonso Smith (6'1", 209 lbs, four seasons) is not a big back and doesn't have much bulk. He does aggressively initiate contact, run low and keep his legs moving throughout the play. Smith is able to break arm-tackles, but he won't consistently finish plays moving forward.

    Speed

    24/25

    Smith is very quick. His size works in his favor when working behind the line of scrimmage because he can change directions much quicker than defensive linemen. That allows him to slip through different running lanes. Smith's acceleration is impressive, and he has enough speed to run for big gains.

    Vision

    18/40

    The value of quickness on the professional level isn't what it is on the college level. A player like Smith is a great example of that. He has all the quickness needed to make plays in space, but he struggles to find space because his vision is unimpressive.

    Receiving

    8/10

    He’s not an exceptional talent as a receiver, but he is a versatile and reliable player who can line up in different areas of the field.

    Overall

    68/100

    If this had been Smith's rookie season, he'd be perceived as a player to watch moving forward. However, he is 27 years of age and has been in the league for a few years. Smith would have developed by now if he were to ever become a starter.

65. Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers

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    Power

    22/25

    Kendall Hunter (5'7", 199 lbs, three seasons) is a strong, well-built back, but he wasn't a very aggressive runner in 2013. He tended to submit to contact rather than attack it. Although he often ran low, he never used his low center of gravity to his benefit by keeping his legs moving through contact.

    Speed

    19/25

    Hunter is a home run hitter with enough agility and acceleration to get to the second level. He is at his best when put in space.

    Vision

    24/40

    Hunter was often hesitant and made too many bad decisions, despite a small number of touches. He didn't show an ability or understanding of how to set up his blocking, and he wasn't disciplined following his blocking when it was there at the snap.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He wasn’t a receiving option for the 49ers and doesn’t have a skill set that suggests he could line up outside of the backfield.

    Overall

    68/100

    Although he has a lot of physical talent, Hunter's technical ability as a running back let him down in 2013.

64. Brian Leonard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Power

    21/25

    Although he carries some bulk, Brian Leonard (6’1”, 225 lbs, seven seasons) doesn't break tackles consistently. That is largely because he doesn't run with aggression and he doesn't keep his feet moving through contact.

    Speed

    16/25

    Leonard is agile and has a good enough burst to get to the second level. But he lacks any sustainable speed to break off big runs.

    Vision

    24/40

    He is a patient runner who understands when to accelerate to the second level based on his blocking.

    Receiving

    8/10

    He is a reliable receiver who can run different routes and comfortably make catches with his hands away from his body.

    Overall

    69/100

    Leonard's sample size on the field impacted his ranking, but he proved to be a valuable role player for the Buccaneers in 2013.

63. Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals

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    Power

    21/25

    Rashard Mendenhall's (5'10", 225 lbs, six seasons) compact frame and low center of gravity make him a powerful runner. He has proven throughout his career that he is an impressive goal-line and short-yardage back, something that was also evident in 2013.

    Speed

    16/25

    Injuries slowed him during the preseason and early in the regular season. But as the season wound down, Mendenhall's burst appeared to be back. Before he tore his ACL at the end of the 2011 season, Mendenhall was an explosive back. That explosion was limited in 2013, but still evident on occasion.

    Vision

    25/40

    The Cardinals offensive line often gave him nowhere to go, but Mendenhall made too many bad decisions in 2013. Peculiarly, he has a tendency to turn sideways into contact or even backward at times, and that prevents him from getting the most out of his blocking on every snap.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Mendenhall is a reliable receiving option who can move around the formation and make plays in space. He wasn't used that often in 2013.

    Overall

    69/100

    Had he been 100 percent all season, this likely would have been a higher ranking, but Mendenhall was a low-end starter in 2013, regardless of how poorly the Arizona Cardinals offensive line performed.

62. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins

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    Power

    17/25

    Roy Helu (5'11", 215 lbs, three seasons) isn't a big back or an overly aggressive runner, but he does have the power to overrun defensive backs on occasion.

    Speed

    20/25

    Fluidity is what stands out with Helu physically. He's not overwhelmingly athletic, but his ability to change directions so easily allows him to find gaps between the line of scrimmage and excel as a cutback runner.

    Vision

    27/40

    A lack of touches is all that hampered Helu in this category. In 2013, he was clearly behind Alfred Morris, but he consistently showed off a clear understanding of how to get the most out of his blocking when he did touch the ball.

    Receiving

    5/10

    A few drops hurt his rating, but Helu’s biggest issue as a receiver was that he didn’t see more targets.

    Overall

    69/100

    After Alfred Morris established himself in Washington last year, it was unclear if Helu had any real shot at making an impact in 2012 or 2013. Although his touches were limited by Morris, his play in 2013 indicates that he still has the potential to be a high-quality starter.

61. Dennis Johnson, Houston Texans

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    Power

    15/25

    Dennis Johnson (5'7", 193 lbs, one season) carries a similar frame to that of Danny Woodhead in San Diego. Unlike Woodhead, however, he doesn't have the same aggressiveness and intelligence when he initiates contact with defenders.

    Speed

    21/25

    Very quick, but not exceptionally fast, Johnson fit well in Gary Kubiak's offense because he could change direction quickly before accelerating through running lanes.

    Vision

    29/40

    Johnson sees cutback lanes quickly and understands how to manipulate defenders who are engaged at the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    4/10

    While he is quick, Johnson isn't a natural receiver and is a small target for his quarterback. He could be effective on screen plays and catching passes in the flat. But beyond that, his size becomes a problem.

    Overall

    69/100

    Johnson's biggest issue coming out of college was ball security. That wasn't a concern for the Texans. Instead, he simply wasn't effective enough with the opportunities he received.

60. Isaiah Pead, St. Louis Rams

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    Power

    16/25

    Isaiah Pead (5'10", 197 lbs, two seasons) has a slender frame and doesn't have a low center of gravity. That limits how powerful he can be, but he is stronger than he looks. He can break tackles and won't take too much punishment from defenders.

    Speed

    21/25

    A quick, fluid runner who has the speed to run away from defenders, Pead has above-average straight-line speed, quickness and acceleration.

    Vision

    23/40

    Pead needs more exposure to show off his vision. He didn't touch the ball enough in 2013 to prove that he could consistently make good decisions and manipulate the defense.

    Receiving

    9/10

    Pead can line up around the field and do a variety of things as a receiver. He is a natural hands catcher.

    Overall

    69/100

    There is clearly talent there, but to this point in his career, Pead has proven to be an underwhelming player. He needs to turn things around next year or it may be too late.

59. Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns

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    Power

    14/25

    Willis McGahee (6'0", 235 lbs, 11 seasons) was once a physical runner who defenses dreaded seeing on the field at the goal line. Now he is a shadow of his former self who braces for contact rather than exploding through it. He can still drag defensive backs with him, but he was too regularly knocked backward by linebackers.

    Speed

    15/25

    Slowing down at 32 years of age after a career of touches is nothing irregular. McGahee's recovery from injury and his age sapped his physical talent in 2013. He still showed impressive quickness between the tackles at times.

    Vision

    36/40

    It's easy to recognize that McGahee is a veteran runner. He is very patient, but he knows when to attack the defense and how to set up his blocking.

    Receiving

    4/10

    A lack of fluid athleticism and no real speed make him a redundant receiving option.

    Overall

    69/100

    He’s had an impressive career, but it would be even more impressive if he were able to make an NFL roster next season.

58. Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints

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    Power

    15/25

    Khiry Robinson (6'0", 220 lbs, one season) isn't a big back, but he is an aggressive runner who attacks defenders when given the opportunity. He runs hard and keeps his feet moving to finish plays going forward.

    Speed

    19/25

    Robinson doesn’t have consistent home run hitter speed, but he is agile and has a good short-area burst.

    Vision

    31/40

    At just 24 years of age, Robinson is already an intelligent and aware player. He makes good decisions and shows enough patience to be consistently effective.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Robinson looks like he has a skill set that will translate well to the receiving game, but he wasn’t used that way in 2013.

    Overall

    69/100

    Robinson’s role should expand in 2014.

57. Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Power

    20/25

    Mike James (5'10", 223 lbs, one season) has a physical presence and low center of gravity that allow him to punish defenders. But he is too inconsistent in keeping his feet moving through contact.

    Speed

    20/25

    He is not overly agile, but he has enough acceleration and straight-line speed to be an effective one-cut runner.

    Vision

    25/40

    A hesitation and tendency to run into his own blockers cost him many opportunities to gain more yards.

    Receiving

    5/10

    James was barely used as a receiver and had one drop on his few targets.

    Overall

    70/100

    The sixth-round pick showed he had enough talent to play in this league, but a fractured ankle ended his season too soon.

56. Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts

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    Power

    18/25

    Donald Brown (5'10", 207 lbs, five seasons) is a tough runner who can break arm-tackles in his stride. His ability to keep moving forward while bouncing off contact is impressive.

    Speed

    19/25

    He shows impressive agility in tight spaces and enough speed to break away when he finds running lanes.

    Vision

    28/40

    Understanding how to find holes and set up his blocking isn't a problem, but Brown needs to be more consistent in his decision-making.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Brown wasn't used that much, but he was a reliable receiver who showed the ability to make plays in space with the ball.

    Overall

    70/100

    Even though the Colts traded for Trent Richardson to be their feature back, it's clear that Brown was the better back in 2013.

55. Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks

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    Power

    17/25

    Robert Turbin (5'10", 222 lbs, two seasons) isn't a stereotypical power back and doesn't break tackles like his teammate Marshawn Lynch. He is a resilient runner who gets low and attacks the point of contact.

    Speed

    21/25

    Turbin's top speed isn't overwhelming, but his ability to accelerate is notable. With his short-area burst and impressive quickness, he showed an ability to consistently create space between the tackles.

    Vision

    28/40

    He needed more touches to accurately assess his consistency in 2013. On a few occasions, he wasn't patient enough to find the right hole, but he also showed solid awareness on other occasions to create yards when there was a defender in good position to stop him from the snap.

    Receiving

    4/10

    He appears to have the ability to be a good receiving option, but he didn't showcase it enough in 2013.

    Overall

    70/100

    Turbin was likely expecting a bigger role for the Seahawks this season, but the quality of Marshawn Lynch's play hurt those expectations. With Christine Michael in town now as well, he may be forced to go elsewhere to establish himself in the NFL.

54. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals

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    Power

    16/25

    Andre Ellington (5'9", 199 lbs, one season) is small and has a slender build. Defenders don't often get to punish him, but he also isn't breaking tackles at this level with his strength.

    Speed

    22/25

    He’s incredibly explosive and only needs to show it as an every-down back.

    Vision

    29/40

    There are times when Ellington looks like an ant being chased by a boy with a magnifying glass, but there are other occasions when he has the patience of an artist painting his masterpiece. He has the ability to do everything he needs to, but he is wildly inconsistent at this stage.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He’s versatile and explosive, but six drops on 57 targets is way too many.

    Overall

    70/100

    He'll likely never be able to carry the ball as many as 300 times a season, but he'll always have an important role as long as he has that speed and elusive ability.

53. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Power

    18/25

    BenJarvus Green-Ellis (5'11", 220 lbs, six seasons) breaks tackles and gets forward momentum, but not as consistently as better backs in the league.

    Speed

    12/25

    There is some quickness there that allows Green-Ellis to slip through running lanes, but he has no breakaway speed.

    Vision

    38/40

    He knows how to press holes to set up defenders and consistently makes smart decisions behind the line of scrimmage. Green-Ellis regularly shows good patience to get the most out of his blocking.

    Receiving

    3/10

    Green-Ellis isn't a versatile receiver and doesn't see the ball in the passing game. He is primarily a pass-blocking back.

    Overall

    71/100

    It's clear why the Bengals drafted Giovani Bernard in the offseason. Green-Ellis is a reliable runner, but he's not an impactful back in any facet of the game. Green-Ellis' best trait is that he doesn't fumble and he's consistent, but that's less valuable when you don't have enough physical talent to be more effective.

52. Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans

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    Power

    22/25

    As a goal-line back, Shonn Greene (5'11", 233 lbs, five seasons) consistently finished plays moving forward. He gets low and square to make the most out of his power.

    Speed

    16/25

    Greene isn't a slow back, but he doesn't stand out for his speed. He has quick enough feet to move between the tackles and find the right running lanes at the right time.

    Vision

    30/40

    The strongest aspect of Greene's game is his ability to pick the right hole in the defense. He doesn't panic when defenders penetrate the backfield, and he understands when to cut and when to press gaps to set up his blocking.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He didn't see many targets and had one drop. However, he does have the potential to make big plays in the passing game, as shown by his catch-and-run against the Rams on a bubble screen.

    Overall

    71/100

    Greene was impressive in a limited role for the Titans. This is likely his best role in the NFL moving forward.

51. Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Power

    17/25

    Although he is a smaller back, Bobby Rainey (5'8", 212 lbs, two seasons) is powerful enough to break arm-tackles when he gets his momentum moving forward. He keeps his feet moving through contact. That is crucial to his success.

    Speed

    19/25

    Rainey has outstanding agility and is a fluid athlete when shifting his weight in tight spaces. He also has enough speed to score from distance when he finds open space.

    Vision

    26/40

    When Rainey ran well, he ran very well, but there was a little inconsistency in his ability to pick the right running lane. He shows good patience and can quickly recognize how the defense is reacting to his blocking.

    Receiving

    9/10

    Rainey is a quick-twitch athlete who naturally catches the ball. He needed to be used more as a receiver.

    Overall

    71/100

    There is little else that Rainey could have done with the touches he received in 2013. His audition for a bigger role with the Buccaneers or any other team should be considered a success by any measure.

50. David Wilson, New York Giants

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    Power

    16/25

    David Wilson (5'9", 205 lbs, two seasons) is a small back with a slight frame. He doesn't have the bulk to consistently gain forward momentum and primarily relies on his quickness and speed to evade defenders.

    Speed

    22/25

    What stands out when watching Wilson is his burst. He has the agility and long speed to be effective, but it's his burst that makes him a very exciting player.

    Vision

    25/40

    Wilson needs to develop better consistency as a runner. He showed off good vision at times and made a lot of sound decisions, but he left plenty of yardage on the field.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Wilson was drafted by the Giants to eventually be a feature back. He hasn't established himself as that yet, but he certainly has the talent to be a big factor in the receiving game. He was underused in that aspect in 2013.

    Overall

    71/100

    Wilson needs to get healthy and make sure he takes care of the football, but he has the talent to be a big player for the Giants.

49. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons

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    Power

    22/25

    Even at this late point in his career, Steven Jackson (6'2", 240 lbs, 10 seasons) is still an impressive athlete. He has enough power to break tackles and attacks contact like any true power back should. His tendency to run high slowed him somewhat in 2013.

    Speed

    14/25

    Jackson isn't very fast, but for a power back, he has impressive acceleration and agility. He still has some pace to create big plays down the field, but those are rare these days.

    Vision

    32/40

    As a veteran who has repeatedly excelled in the NFL season after season behind less-than-stellar run-blocking, it's no surprise that Jackson still understands how to best set up his blocking and take advantage of any gaps in the defense. He may not be as quick to get through the hole as he has been in previous years, but his understanding and patience are still apparent.

    Receiving

    3/10

    Jackson's size allowed him to break tackles repeatedly as a receiver. However, he didn't have the speed to take advantage of the space that was created, and he had too many drops.

    Overall

    71/100

    Jackson was signed to be the final piece of the Falcons offense, but injuries to him and a number of his teammates severely limited his production. When he was on the field and fully healthy, he was still an effective back.

48. Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Power

    16/25

    Jordan Todman (5'10", 198 lbs, two seasons) is not a powerful back, but he is strong enough to break arm-tackles and sustain his forward momentum against contact.

    Speed

    21/25

    He’s a shifty runner who has the speed to get down the field when he finds space.

    Vision

    30/40

    While he didn't have that many touches, he showed excellent awareness while playing behind what was the toughest situation for any running back in the league last season.

    Receiving

    5/10

    He took full advantage of the opportunities he received, but he needs to be involved more to get a better grade.

    Overall

    72/100

    Todman has starter potential and is still young, even though he has bounced around a bit. 

47. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions

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    Power

    21/25

    Joique Bell (5'11", 220 lbs, three seasons) is strong and explosive. With his compact body, he should be one of the toughest players in the league to tackle. However, Bell doesn't always run with aggression and makes it easier on defenders by not lowering his shoulder or taking the direct route toward the end zone.

    Speed

    19/25

    Bell plays in space a lot and can consistently rip off big plays with his quickness and speed. Unfortunately, this speed doesn't show up as consistently in the run game as it does when he's catching passes. There is a certain comfort that comes for Bell when he is in space.

    Vision

    28/40

    He doesn't appear to be a natural reader of the defense when he is running the ball. Bell made a few bad decisions and had a tendency to try to bounce the play outside too quickly. An ability to set up blocking and find running lanes was obvious at times, but there needed to be more consistency from snap to snap.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Bell had too many drops, but he looks to be a natural receiver who prefers to run routes and catch the ball out of the backfield over taking handoffs from the quarterback. 

    Overall

    72/100

    Bell proved to the NFL that he can be an important weapon in a spread-out offense. He wasn't just on the field because the Lions needed someone to give Reggie Bush a break every now and then.

46. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons

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    Power

    15/25

    Jacquizz Rodgers' (5'6", 196 lbs, three seasons) ability to bounce off tacklers and keep moving forward at the point of contact is impressive for a back of his size. He's not Maurice Jones-Drew, but for a back who excels in a receiving role, he is strong.

    Speed

    20/25

    Rodgers was very elusive in 2013. His quickness and acceleration allowed him to excel whenever he was given room to run.

    Vision

    28/40

    There were still a few plays when he was too hesitant or didn't set up a running lane as well as he could have. But for the most part, Rodgers' vision improved in 2013. He made a number of excellent runs because of good vision that weren't evident in previous seasons.

    Receiving

    9/10

    He had threatened to break out with this kind of season ever since entering the league. His numbers don't completely reflect it, but Rodgers was an outstanding receiving option for Matt Ryan in 2013. He consistently made the most he possibly could have out of every situation he faced.

    Overall

    72/100

    It was somewhat of a breakout season for Rodgers, but he was still the Falcons' second option behind Steven Jackson. Unfortunately, this may be his ceiling.

45. Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Power

    20/25

    Although he carries a relatively small frame, Knile Davis (5'10", 227 lbs, one season) keeps his feet moving through contact to get the most out of the little bulk he does have.

    Speed

    23/25

    Davis' fluid athleticism immediately becomes obvious on tape. His ability to change direction without slowing down and his acceleration to get away from defenders allow him to take advantage of any space he finds.

    Vision

    22/40

    The small sample size limits what we could learn about Davis' vision in 2013, but the tape he did have was impressive. He showed awareness of how to manipulate players on the second level while working behind the line of scrimmage. That ability combined with his decisiveness allowed him to make a number of big plays.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Davis was a reliable receiving option in 2013, but he wasn’t used much in Andy Reid's offense.

    Overall

    72/100

    Ball security remains Davis' biggest concern. Without a greater sample size, we can't accurately examine that now. However, even in this small sample size, Davis showed that he has the physical talent to be a starter at this level.

44. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots

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    Power

    18/25

    Even though he doesn't have issues with ball security or running hard between the tackles, Shane Vereen (5'10", 205 lbs, three seasons) is still not an impact runner. Fortunately for him, he faces more defensive backs than linebackers or defensive linemen.

    Speed

    19/25

    Vereen is an agile runner and has excellent acceleration when finding holes between the tackles. But in spite of that, he isn't exceptionally elusive. A lack of big plays down the field hurts his grade here.

    Vision

    31/40

    Injury took away a large chunk of his season, which reduced his exposure on the field to judge his vision. He showed off impressive vision as a runner with the touches he did receive. He was patient to allow his blocking to develop, understood how to manipulate defenders and was aggressive when attacking holes.

    Receiving

    4/10

    His 2013 season was hampered by a wrist injury that appeared to affect his ability to consistently catch the ball. He still showed off the natural ability to play like a receiver, but he also isn't elusive in space. With full health, Vereen could be one of the better receiving backs in the NFL, but he doesn't have that Darren Sproles-type of ability in space.

    Overall

    72/100

    Surprisingly, even after you discount the drops, Vereen proved to be a more impressive runner than receiver in 2013. He'll need to put in a full season of production before he is considered one of the better backs in the NFL.

43. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos

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    Power

    20/25

    Montee Ball (5'10", 215 lbs, one season) is a strong runner who has no issue with lowering his head to push for forward momentum between the tackles. He's not exceptionally powerful, but he's not an easy tackle for linebackers, either. He can break arm-tackles in space.

    Speed

    18/25

    Ball isn't fast, but he has impressive agility and an effective burst. He can look rigid at times, but what he lacks in fluidity, he makes up for in subtlety.

    Vision

    31/40

    He had a handful of bad decisions, but he more often than not found the right hole. While he's not completely consistent and only has a small sample size so far, Ball showed a good understanding of how to set up his blockers and when to be aggressive.

    Receiving

    3/10

    A few drops and a fumble hampered his production on the field, but Ball showed the flexibility to move out wide and run precise routes in 2013. He is also a hands-catcher, which means he has a lot of potential with Peyton Manning moving forward.

    Overall

    72/100

    Ball isn't exceptionally good at anything, but he is above average at everything. In a way, that makes him the perfect successor for Knowshon Moreno if he eventually takes his place in the Broncos offense.

42. Ronnie Brown, San Diego Chargers

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    Power

    18/25

    Ronnie Brown (6'0", 223 lbs, nine seasons) isn't known for his size or his strength. He compensates by being an aggressive runner who powers his legs through contact.

    Speed

    20/25

    At this stage of his career, Brown isn't a home run threat. He is a nimble runner who shows the quickness to evade defenders in space and the burst to get through running lanes.

    Vision

    26/40

    Brown is a patient runner who sometimes waits too long for a running lane to develop. When he plays with the right balance of patience and aggression, he can be an effective runner in a variety of different situations.

    Receiving

    9/10

    Brown is a reliable receiving option out of the backfield who can be used in different ways. All he lacks is explosion.

    Overall

    73/100

    As a former starter and veteran, Brown has proven to be a valuable role player for the Chargers.

41. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts

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    Power

    20/25

    Ahmad Bradshaw (5'10", 214 lbs, seven seasons) has always been a slender, smaller back. However, he has also always played with an aggressive approach and enough strength to break tackles.

    Speed

    16/25

    Although he is slowing down somewhat at this stage of his career, Bradshaw still has enough quickness and a good enough burst to be effective.

    Vision

    29/40

    Bradshaw is a veteran who understands how to be patient and when to be decisive. He typically gets the most out of his blocking on a snap-to-snap basis.

    Receiving

    8/10

    A dynamic receiver who can move around the field and be used in a variety of ways, Bradshaw didn’t see enough targets during his short spell on the field this season.

    Overall

    73/100

    Bradshaw’s health may limit what he can do in 2014, but he is still only 27 years of age.

40. Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys

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    Power

    16/25

    Joseph Randle (6'0", 198 lbs, one season) is a slender back who relies on his vision and speed to be productive. However, he doesn't shy away from contact and is aggressive as he looks to work through tackles with his legs.

    Speed

    22/25

    Randle's agility becomes evident quickly. He is a fluid all-around athlete, so he is able to change direction without losing speed. This makes him a very dangerous cutback runner. His acceleration attacking gaps in the defense is also impressive.

    Vision

    32/40

    Vision is definitely a strength for Randle. He shows good patience and understanding of situations, with the right amount of aggression once he makes his decision. Most notably, Randle quickly recognizes opportunities to cut back behind the line of scrimmage. The only knock on him is his small sample size.

    Receiving

    4/10

    A few drops and a small sample size hurt his rating for 2013, but Randle showed a level of comfort catching the ball that suggests he can be a good receiving back.

    Overall

    74/100

    Randle is reminiscent of his teammate DeMarco Murray on the field. He has that kind of impressive talent, but he also plays with a similar style. Randle may not ever be a star in Dallas because of Murray's presence, but he definitely has the talent to star somewhere else.

39. Andre Brown, New York Giants

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    Power

    20/25

    Andre Brown (6'0", 227 lbs, three seasons) is a thick, strong runner with the power to break tackles even when he doesn't run at full speed.

    Speed

    23/25

    He doesn't have exceptional speed, but he's not slow, either. His speed primarily acts as a complement to his strength, but he is fast enough to get away from linebackers in space.

    Vision

    26/40

    Brown makes good decisions and shows an ability to set up runs at times. However, he typically has to see holes develop before he runs to them. A greater anticipation behind the line of scrimmage and a slightly more aggressive approach could make him a lot more productive.

    Receiving

    5/10

    He's not a versatile or explosive receiver, and he had a few drops that affected his value to the offense. Brown primarily caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage in space.

    Overall

    74/100

    Brown being lost to injury was a big loss for the Giants entering the season. Even though he's not an exceptional back, he brought a consistency to the field that had been lacking before.

38. Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Power

    22/25

    Bryce Brown (6'0", 220 lbs, two seasons) is a big back who can deliver punishment to defenders in open space. He breaks tackles with relative ease and can push the pile between the tackles.

    Speed

    23/25

    In spite of his size, Brown is able to sidestep and subtly evade defenders behind the line of scrimmage. Once he gets into space, he has the breakaway speed to score from long range.

    Vision

    25/40

    In Chip Kelly's offense, running lanes often opened directly in front of Brown. However, there were also many plays where he needed to see defenders coming free and be proactive to evade them.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Brown isn't a natural receiver. That showed in how the Eagles used him in 2013.

    Overall

    74/100

    Brown is a talented runner who could be a valuable starter elsewhere. However, he was trapped behind LeSean McCoy on the Eagles depth chart in 2013.

37. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins

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    Power

    16/25

    Lamar Miller (5'10", 216 lbs, two seasons) isn't a small player, but he doesn't carry much weight or power in his legs. He would benefit from a more aggressive running style, but he will never be a power back.

    Speed

    24/25

    Miller is one of the fastest players in the league playing the running back position. He has enough breakaway speed and agility to take advantage of most situations, but his most striking asset is his acceleration. Miller can turn short losses into decent gains by accelerating away from defenders in short areas.

    Vision

    27/40

    Because of his explosiveness, Miller has a tendency to go for the big play too often. He needs to stay within the tackles more regularly and not be tempted so much by the route to the sideline.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Miller's ability to make plays in space is valuable. He can turn short passes into big gains with his elusiveness after the catch.

    Overall

    75/100

    The former fourth-round draft pick is still emerging in the league as a starter. He has an abundance of talent that could make him one of the best backs in the NFL if he develops properly over the next season or two.

36. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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    Power

    18/25

    Darren McFadden (6'1", 218 lbs, six seasons) is a strong player, but he runs too tall to consistently break tackles from linebackers. But he is able to run through arm-tackles from defensive backs.

    Speed

    22/25

    McFadden's acceleration is incredible. It only takes him a few steps to get to top speed, and once he is at that point, he has the subtle agility to make defenders miss in space. He is a home run threat who has the potential to routinely break off big gains.

    Vision

    30/40

    Although he wasn't the most consistent player in the league, McFadden showed off the patience and understanding that allowed him to get the most out of his blocking. When in the open field, he saw defenders quickly, so he could proactively evade them.

    Receiving

    5/10

    McFadden is a talented receiver who consistently makes an effort to catch the ball with his hands. He is explosive out of the backfield and can line up on the outside. But he had two drops and struggled with his consistency in 2013.

    Overall

    75/100

    If he can stay healthy, McFadden should be able to provide a spark for whatever offense he plays for in 2014.

35. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

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    Power

    22/25

    Ever since his days at Alabama, it's been clear that Mark Ingram (5'9", 215 lbs, three seasons) has all of the physical talent to be a power back. That talent didn't fully translate onto the field in the NFL until this season. Ingram ran with more aggression and a greater burst through contact that allowed him to be more successful.

    Speed

    17/25

    Ingram isn't a fluid athlete or a back who can quickly change direction behind the line of scrimmage. He is at his best when he makes one cut before accelerating down the field. He has a good initial burst and enough speed to exploit space on the second level. He won't win many races down the sideline, but his speed is a good complement to his power.

    Vision

    33/40

    He's not simply a big back who is going to put his head down and attack the first hole he sees. Ingram has enough awareness to understand how plays develop and keeps his eyes high to find cutback lanes or opportunities to bounce outside. Sometimes he makes bad decisions, but he also created extra yardage with his eyes on many occasions.

    Receiving

    3/10

    The renewed comfort level Ingram had on the field in 2013 made him a better receiving option, but he was still barely used in the Saints passing attack.

    Overall

    75/100

    There was a time when it looked like Ingram's career was never going to get to this point. Now he looks like a back who just needs more exposure to establish himself as a quality starter.

34. Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders

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    Power

    18/25

    Although Rashad Jennings (6'1", 231 lbs, four seasons) ran right over D.J. Swearinger on that 80-yard touchdown run against the Houston Texans, he is not a powerful back. He was rewarded on that play because he was aggressive against a weak tackler. Jennings is willing to initiate contact and looks to fight through it. But he doesn't have the power to consistently break tackles.

    Speed

    17/25

    Jennings has the speed and quickness to get to the second level and take advantage of space for big gains. He won't outrun every defensive back, but the defense can't afford to give him an alley to the end zone.

    Vision

    30/40

    He’s a patient back who allows his blocking to develop before attacking the line of scrimmage. Jennings is smart enough and decisive enough to consistently get what his offensive line gives him.

    Receiving

    10/10

    Jennings primarily caught passes out of the backfield underneath, but he made a number of impressive adjustments to poorly placed passes.

    Overall

    75/100

    It seemed like Jennings would move into 2014 as the Oakland Raiders' starting running back, but the team re-signed Darren McFadden. That's opened the door for Jennings to head to the New York Giants after he established himself as a quality starter in 2013.

33. Chris Ivory, New York Jets

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    Power

    23/25

    Chris Ivory (6'0", 222 lbs, four seasons) is an explosive back who continues fighting through contact until he hits the ground. Arm-tackling Ivory is rarely a viable option.

    Speed

    18/25

    Although he is primarily seen as a power back, Ivory has the speed to turn the corner. He can come to a complete stop behind the line of scrimmage and still accelerate away from defensive linemen and linebackers to get to the second level.

    Vision

    34/40

    Ivory's movement behind the line of scrimmage is subtle. That allows him to manipulate the defense without losing forward momentum. He typically takes the right option, but there were many occasions when there was no right option as the Jets offensive line was overwhelmed.

    Receiving

    1/10

    He wasn't used much as a receiver and had too many drops when he was.

    Overall

    76/100

    In a sense, Ivory's greatest problem is the era he plays in. The value of a back who offers nothing as a receiver simply isn't that high today. As a pure runner, though, he is still one of the most talented in the NFL as long as he stays healthy.

32. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

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    Power

    20/25

    Knowshon Moreno's (5'11", 220 lbs, five seasons) low center of gravity and willingness to attack the point of contact make him a resilient runner. He won't regularly break tackles or run over defenders, but he can consistently put his head down to get forward momentum.

    Speed

    17/25

    He is much quicker than fast. But once he finds space, he can make plays down the field. Moreno combines decisive cuts and subtle quickness behind the line of scrimmage to create gains in the secondary.

    Vision

    35/40

    Poise is typically a word that is associated with quarterbacks, but Moreno's instant diagnosis of plays and his ability to manipulate defenders against his blocking make him a very poised runner.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Moreno had a few drops, but he showed an all-around ability as a receiver.

    Overall

    77/100

    Although he wasn't a focal point of the offense, Moreno's consistency and intelligence as a player made him a valuable piece of the Broncos offense in 2013.

31. Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

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    Power

    22/25

    Bernard Pierce (6'0", 218 lbs, two seasons) is stronger than he is powerful. By that I mean he is able to brush off tackles and shake free from defenders in space. But he doesn't run over defenders between the tackles.

    Speed

    20/25

    He’s a natural home run hitter who is tough to stop in the open field.

    Vision

    28/40

    His lack of patience appeared to cost him a few big runs on a couple of occasions. He generally makes good decisions but is lacking a bit of consistency.

    Receiving

    7/10

    He wasn’t featured much as a receiving option for the Ravens, but he was reliable when asked to catch the ball out of the backfield.

    Overall

    77/100

    Pierce's lack of production was primarily a result of the inconsistent Ravens offensive line and offense as a whole. There is a legitimate chance that he could be the Ravens' lead back instead of Ray Rice next season.

30. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills

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    Power

    20/25

    Fred Jackson (6'1", 216 lbs, seven seasons) is strong and can consistently break through arm-tackles in space. He does finish plays moving forward between the tackles, but he doesn't explode through defenders like the better power runners in the NFL. He has a tendency to run too high instead of getting low and keeping his legs moving through contact.

    Speed

    18/25

    While he doesn't have the incredible long speed of his teammate C.J. Spiller, Jackson isn't slow by any measure. His acceleration is inconsistent, as he is sometimes slow to get through holes between the tackles. But he is agile, and once he gets to top speed, he can create separation from defenders.

    Vision

    34/40

    Jackson is a decisive runner who is constantly moving forward once he receives the handoff. That works in his favor more often than not. But it also causes him to miss better running lanes, and it doesn't always play to the strengths of his offensive line. Decisiveness is better than too much hesitation, but Jackson needs to be more patient.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Jackson is a flexible and reliable receiver who has the ability to move around the field. But he had a few drops in 2013.

    Overall

    77/100

    Jackson has his flaws, but he proved that he is still a valuable back for the Bills in 2013. At 33 years of age, that's about all you can hope for from any running back these days.

29. Ben Tate, Houston Texans

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    Power

    20/25

    Ben Tate (5'11", 217 lbs, three seasons) is an aggressive, compact runner with the power to overrun defenders and consistently gain forward momentum.

    Speed

    21/25

    He was slowed by a rib injury for a large spell during the season. But when fully healthy, Tate showed off all of the explosion and agility required of a starting NFL running back.

    Vision

    31/40

    This is where Arian Foster excels over his teammate. Tate doesn't have bad vision, but his inconsistency and a recurring lack of patience prevent him from being even close to Foster's level.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Tate isn't dynamic or versatile, but he is a reliable receiver out of the backfield.

    Overall

    77/100

    Injury hit at the worst time for Tate. If he had played through the whole season at top form, he would have had a much stronger case to make to potential suitors in free agency.

28. Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings

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    Power

    20/25

    Toby Gerhart (6'0", 231 lbs, four seasons) is a big back who understands how to get low to maximize his power. He has the physical frame and aggressive running style to punish defenders who try to take him down.

    Speed

    20/25

    He is a nimble athlete who has excellent acceleration to pick his way through traffic. Once in the open field, he has enough speed to outrun defenders.

    Vision

    33/40

    Although his touches were limited, Gerhart didn't have any negative plays because of his decision-making. He sees cutback opportunities and has the patience to get the most out of his blocking. When he decides to attack a gap in the defense, he shows no hesitation.

    Receiving

    6/10

    He made a number of nice hands catches and looked comfortable running routes from the backfield. He needs more exposure to earn a higher grade.

    Overall

    79/100

    It's simple. Gerhart needs an opportunity to start somewhere. He was trapped behind the best running back in the NFL in Minnesota.

27. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    Power

    14/25

    Quite clearly, this is Chris Johnson's (5'11", 203 lbs, six seasons) greatest flaw. Not only does he not break arm-tackles, but he also doesn't consistently gain forward momentum. Unless he can get around the defender, he won't beat him. The one positive for Johnson is that he is smart enough not to expose himself to big hits.

    Speed

    25/25

    Still clearly one of the fastest backs in the NFL, if not the fastest, Johnson's agility between the tackles is also underrated. He seamlessly glides from spot to spot and changes direction in a moment.

    Vision

    35/40

    Although he is known for being a home run hitter from the earlier stretch of his career, Johnson is now a disciplined runner. He could run through holes harder, but he understands how to read his blocks and react to the defense.

    Receiving

    5/10

    Johnson is an unnatural pass-catcher who isn't dynamic enough to run routes from all over the field. Although he had a few big plays on receptions when he found space, he simply isn't consistent enough in this facet of the game.

    Overall

    79/100

    Johnson is still a talented running back, but he needs to be stronger to get the most out of his blocking and be a feared player on the level of someone such as Jamaal Charles. Even if he just got a little bit stronger so he could finish more runs moving forward, he would have a much better average per carry.

26. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Power

    21/25

    Maurice Jones-Drew (5'7", 210 lbs, eight seasons) still runs like a bowling ball and can break tackles when given a chance. With the offense around him, often he was gang-tackled by two players or ran into walls of players because his line couldn't create space.

    Speed

    16/25

    Jones-Drew is still quick and has enough acceleration to get past defenders in a hurry. He isn't a home run threat anymore, though.

    Vision

    36/40

    As a veteran back, it's no surprise that Jones-Drew still understands how to set up his runs. However, there were many occasions when he missed potential holes, as he was too quick to put his head down. It may have been a product of him getting used to being hit before the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Jones-Drew's real strength is as a pass-blocker, but he is still an effective receiver who can line up in different spots on the field.

    Overall

    80/100

    He entered the season still recovering from the injury that sidelined him in 2012, but Jones-Drew improved as the 2013 season went on. After a few weeks, he appeared to be back to his old self. Had he played behind even a below-average offensive line, Jones-Drew would have had a productive season.

25. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

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    Power

    22/25

    Alfred Morris (5'10", 218 lbs, two seasons) is a big, powerful back who works through contact. He keeps his legs moving forward, which allows him to consistently finish plays moving in the right direction. His one negative is that he is not an overly violent runner, so he doesn't break as many tackles as he should.

    Speed

    18/25

    Although he is a bigger back, Morris' speed is impressive. He is agile at making cuts and changing direction behind the line of scrimmage. When attacking the defense, he has excellent acceleration in spite of his underwhelming long-distance speed.

    Vision

    36/40

    Not only does Morris see cutback lanes effectively, but he also understands how to time his run and when not to risk working against the flow of his offensive line. He doesn't waste time moving toward the sideline unless it's necessary to set up his blocking. He is a smart and consistent runner.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Morris wasn't featured as a receiving option for Washington in 2013, but we've seen flashes of his ability to make plays with the ball as a receiver.

    Overall

    80/100

    Morris was the perfect back for former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's offense. Regardless of that, he should be successful in most situations because he is consistent from snap to snap. His all-around skill set is underappreciated.

24. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

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    Power

    24/25

    LeGarrette Blount (6'0", 250 lbs, four seasons) is a big back who can fight his way through traffic and keep moving forward while dragging defenders with him. He knows when to lower his head and initiate contact and when to run tall through arm-tackles.

    Speed

    22/25

    None of Blount's bulk is slowing him down. He has just enough explosion to take advantage of running lanes and make big plays. That combined with agility between the tackles makes him more than your average bulldozing big back. In particular, Blount's ability to subtly sidestep through holes or away from defenders behind the line of scrimmage stands out.

    Vision

    31/40

    As a runner, few look as natural and smooth as Blount. He has excellent awareness and quickly recognizes cutback lanes. On a number of occasions, he slid through holes in the line of scrimmage that weren't immediately obvious.

    Receiving

    3/10

    He wasn't used much as a receiver in 2013.

    Overall

    80/100

     If Blount could be used more as a receiver, he could be one of the best backs in the NFL.

23. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams

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    Power

    20/25

    Zac Stacy (5'8", 224 lbs, one season) consistently finishes plays moving forward. He doesn't carry much weight on his slender frame, but he does get low and keeps his legs moving through contact.

    Speed

    20/25

    Although it's tougher to notice than, say, the speed of LeSean McCoy or Chris Johnson, Stacy has overwhelming speed. He isn't exceptionally fast running in straight lines, but his quickness and burst are incredible.

    Vision

    35/40

    Everything with Stacy is subtle. His ability to pick apart a defense or evade defenders in tight spaces can be tough to see on initial viewing, but the impact is often huge. 

    Receiving

    6/10

    Stacy's value is as a runner. He is a competent catcher of the football, but not a dynamic threat in the passing game.

    Overall

    81/100

    If the 2013 draft was held today, Stacy, a fifth-round pick, would have been one of the many backs looking to force their way into the first round. At worst, he should never have escaped the second round. He has traits that should allow him to be a productive back for a long time at this level.

22. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints

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    Power

    23/25

    Pierre Thomas (5'11", 215 lbs, seven seasons) doesn't look like your typical power back, but he plays like a much bigger player. He is aggressive attacking the point of contact and consistently powers his legs through. Thomas plays with a low pad level to get the most out of what bulk he does have.

    Speed

    16/25

    Thomas is an above-average athlete, but speed is not one of his strengths. He is quicker than he is fast and has enough speed to take advantage of space, but he won't outrun many defenders on the second level.

    Vision

    34/40

    Speed is overrated in the NFL. Thomas is a great example of that. His patience and anticipation allow him to be effective. He understands how to set up his blocking and manipulate defenders with his movement before the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    8/10

    He lacks the explosion to break off big gains when given space, but Thomas is a reliable and versatile receiving option.

    Overall

    81/100

    Thomas is entering the final stretch of his career, but he should still be an effective player in 2014.

21. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints

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    Power

    15/25

    Darren Sproles (5'6", 190 lbs, eight seasons) is a small receiving specialist who plays under the label of running back. However, he doesn't play that way. Sproles is aggressive approaching contact and looks to use his low center of gravity to bowl over bigger defenders. Unfortunately for him, size does matter. Sproles' impact is limited by his size, even though he gets the most out of what he has.

    Speed

    21/25

    At this stage of his career, he may be slowing down a little bit. Even though he may not be as fast as he was, he is still very fast. In particular, Sproles can still shake defenders underneath with his quickness and accelerate from linebackers with relative ease.

    Vision

    35/40

    Throughout his career, Sproles has never received enough credit for his intelligence and awareness. Both aspects of his game will stick with him as he grows older. Sproles understands how to set up his blocking and quickly reacts to defenders’ movements.

    Receiving

    10/10

    Sproles didn't drop a pass on 84 targets last season. He is a mismatch player who can be effective in every single situation.

    Overall

    81/100

    Sproles will be 31 next season, and he will be playing with a new team in the Philadelphia Eagles. It will be his third stop in the NFL. 

20. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers

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    Power

    16/25

    Although he doesn't shy away from contact and is smart enough to use his size to get underneath tacklers at times, Danny Woodhead (5'8", 200 lbs, five seasons) isn't a powerful back. He is too small to impact those trying to tackle him. Even defensive backs have no issue getting him to the ground once they catch him.

    Speed

    22/25

    He's quick and can turn away from defenders in tight spaces, but he lacks the explosion to get away from defenders. He didn't have many big plays that came about because of his sheer athleticism.

    Vision

    35/40

    Woodhead is patient and allows plays to develop naturally. He doesn't touch the ball as often as many backs, but when he does, he generally makes good decisions and shows a strong understanding of the game.

    Receiving

    8/10

    He had a few drops, but those were a small percentage of his targets. Woodhead is clearly one of the best receiving backs in the NFL. His versatility and consistency are what teams crave in today's pass-heavy NFL.

    Overall

    81/100

    While those in New England may not want to admit it, they definitely missed Woodhead this year. He became a crucial part of Philip Rivers' revival in San Diego. Woodhead is a running back, but he could easily be a full-time receiver instead.

19. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Power

    19/25

    Giovani Bernard (5'9", 208 lbs, one season) has a low center of gravity, but he concentrates his power further by running compact and being aggressive. He consistently runs hard between the tackles and looks like an ideal goal-line back.

    Speed

    23/25

    He's not lacking anything, but there are faster straight-line runners in the NFL. He is quick and is able to jump, cut or spin away from defenders in tight spaces. He needs to prove that he can consistently show off this speed as a feature back, though.

    Vision

    32/40

    He reads the defense well behind the line of scrimmage, but at times, he doesn't manipulate the defense with his timing as well as he could. More often than not, however, his physical traits compensate for any poor decisions.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Watching Bernard, a comparison to Darren Sproles comes to mind. Bernard has all of the traits to be the best receiving back in the NFL one day. While he has that talent, the performance wasn’t there in 2013 because he had too many drops.

    Overall

    81/100

    All we really need from Bernard is to see him as a feature back.

18. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions

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    Power

    17/25

    Reggie Bush (6'0", 203 lbs, eight seasons) is strong enough to not wear down after more than 20 carries in a game, but he isn't anything like a power back. He will break arm-tackles because he runs aggressively and keeps his feet moving through contact, but his slender frame will always limit him in this aspect of the position.

    Speed

    24/25

    Bush is quicker than fast, but that quickness is simply incredible at times. Even in tiny holes between the line of scrimmage, Bush could fake out defenders and give himself a clear path into the secondary because of his quickness. Once in space, defenders rarely had a chance to get him down before he created more yards by spinning, juking or baiting them with his quickness.

    Vision

    35/40

    He has some inconsistencies behind the line of scrimmage when he hesitates and misses opportunities, but for the most part, he's adept at finding the right hole and setting up his runs. Where Bush's vision elevates his play is on the second level, where he has great peripheral vision and knows how to use any blocking he may have.

    Receiving

    5/10

    He is the most talented receiving back in the NFL, but he had too many drops in 2013.

    Overall

    81/100

    Bush found his natural fit in Detroit. At 29 years of age, this could easily prove to be the best season of his career.

17. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys

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    Power

    21/25

    DeMarco Murray (6'0", 219 lbs, three seasons) will break arm-tackles when he is running at speed, but he is a tentative back who often runs too high and shies away from contact instead of initiating it. He has the ability to break tackles, but he needs to be more consistent at the point of contact.

    Speed

    22/25

    He's a very quick athlete who also has the speed to break off big gains when the opportunities arise.

    Vision

    30/40

    He didn't always run with patience, and he ran toward the sideline too often. A number of bad decisions also affected his grade, but he doesn't appear to have any real problems with reading plays as they develop.

    Receiving

    8/10

    He’s a reliable and consistent catcher of the football who could be more elusive in open space.

    Overall

    81/100

    Although he was a productive back when used last season, Murray also benefited from playing against several inept defenses. Big games against teams such as the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams definitely helped his ranking. 

16. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    Power

    21/25

    Arian Foster (6'1", 227 lbs, five seasons) is still a very strong player when fully healthy. He dealt with injuries at times last season, but when fully healthy, he was able to consistently finish plays moving forward.

    Speed

    17/25

    Although he's not a constant home run threat, Foster's quickness as a cutback runner is still among the best in the NFL. He is a fluid athlete who can make hard cuts and subtle moves to manipulate the opposition.

    Vision

    39/40

    Outstanding patience, awareness and decision-making: Foster has all of the mental attributes a running back needs, but what's most impressive is his consistency from snap to snap.

    Receiving

    4/10

    Too many drops ruined Foster’s rating for the 2013 season. He has the ability to be an excellent receiving option out of the backfield.

    Overall

    81/100

    Foster is still one of the best backs in the NFL. There was a noticeable drop-off from him to Ben Tate when both were healthy. 

15. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

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    Power

    22/25

    Jonathan Stewart (5'10", 235 lbs, six seasons) isn't known for his power, but he showed off a lot of strength in 2013. His low center of gravity combined with his overall body strength allow him to consistently finish plays moving forward. He doesn't always keep his legs moving through contact, but he is still very effective.

    Speed

    18/25

    The first thing that stands out when watching Stewart is his quickness. He changes direction very subtly while still moving forward. This allows him to slide from gap to gap behind the line of scrimmage and glide away from tacklers in space. His acceleration and long speed appear to have been diminished by his health.

    Vision

    33/40

    Stewart is a patient runner who is able to quickly make decisions behind the line of scrimmage because of his ability to change directions in one movement. He is elusive in space and understands how to set up defenders. He just needed to show more consistency in his decision-making in 2013.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Stewart showed off the ability to adjust naturally to slightly off-target passes. He made a limited impact as a receiver working out of the backfield.

    Overall

    81/100

    Considering his health entering the season, Stewart should be commended for his play in 2013.

14. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Power

    23/25

    Doug Martin (5'9", 215 lbs, two seasons) is a bullish runner who can break tackles from a standing start or even in a less advantageous position. His speed and acceleration make him very dangerous in space, and when he lowers his head to attack defenders, he can consistently gain forward momentum as well.

    Speed

    21/25

    Martin is exceptionally quick and has the speed to run away from defenders in space. His acceleration is outstanding between the tackles, which makes him an aggressive runner.

    Vision

    33/40

    Because he wasn't on the field for the whole season—and when he was on the field, the Buccaneers' blocking was often overwhelmed—Martin had a lot of negative runs. However, very few of those runs were Martin's fault. Too often he was being met in the backfield or he had no running lanes as the defense crowded to him at the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    4/10

    A few drops hurt his potential as a receiver in 2013, but he still showed off his comfort in space and how dangerous he can be when used in a variety of ways.

    Overall

    81/100

    Martin didn't drop off in his second season, he was dragged down by a horrible situation. Even though other backs had success in his absence later in the season, that success came when the offense around them was more effective.

13. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots

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    Power

    21/25

    Stevan Ridley (5'11", 220 lbs, three seasons) is an athletic player with the aggressive streak to run over defenders in space. Ridley plays with good leverage and takes a violent approach to the initial contact point.

    Speed

    17/25

    Although he is clearly not just a power back, Ridley isn't an exceptionally fast player, either. He has solid acceleration, quickness and breakaway speed, but he lacks one standout trait in this area.

    Vision

    35/40

    Ridley is a very intelligent runner who sees lanes while moving at speed. He understands how to set up his runs to consistently get the most out of his blocking.

    Receiving

    9/10

    The Patriots didn't give Ridley many opportunities to catch the ball in 2013, but he did show off his comfort and versatility when he was targeted.

    Overall

    82/100

    Ridley had fumble issues in 2013, but outside of ball security, he is a well-rounded player who will expect to start in New England entering next season.

12. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Power

    22/25

    Concerns about Le’Veon Bell's (6'1", 244 lbs, one season) upright running style during the draft were supposed to lessen his ability to be a power runner in the NFL, but that wasn't the case during his rookie season. Bell is very willing to initiate contact and is generally able to finish plays moving forward with his power.

    Speed

    17/25

    Breakaway speed is Bell's biggest issue. He's quick enough and has the acceleration to make defenders miss, but he won't outrun angles down the sideline or consistently hit home runs from 20-plus yards.

    Vision

    37/40

    He has outstanding patience that has dramatically improved the Steelers' running game. His ability to recognize the position of second-level defenders before manipulating them with his movement is outstanding. He rarely misses opportunities to gain yardage and understands how to manipulate engaged defenders to help his blockers create running lanes.

    Receiving

    7/10

    A versatile receiver who can catch balls out of the backfield, from the slot or after being lined up out wide, he looks like a natural receiving back but had a couple of drops on the season.

    Overall

    83/100

    Production doesn't support Bell's case to be considered one of the best backs in the NFL, but he is consistently proving that he can be one of the better backs in the league despite being in a tough situation with the Steelers. His lack of breakaway speed will probably always keep him from being among the elite at his position, but he has pretty much everything else you could ask for from someone playing the position.

11. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

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    Power

    18/25

    Ray Rice (5'8", 212 lbs, six seasons) is still a strong back with a low center of gravity that allows him to get the better of bigger linebackers and push the pile on occasion. However, he was taken down by first contact too often in 2013.

    Speed

    16/25

    His agility is still excellent, but his acceleration was oddly inconsistent while his long speed wasn't always evident. Everything with Rice this year seemed just a bit more lethargic than it had been in the past.

    Vision

    39/40

    Rice entered this season with at least 1,000 yards in each of his previous four seasons. You can't do that without being a smart runner. He was still a smart runner in 2013, but that lack of explosion prevented him from taking advantage of opportunities that he would have thrived on in the past.

    Receiving

    10/10

    Rice is still clearly one of the best receiving backs in the NFL.

    Overall

    83/100

    The demise of Rice has been exaggerated, but not greatly. Everything Rice did last season appeared to be slightly slower than the previous year, but not so much that he was an ineffective back. Most of his struggles could be attributed to the poor play of his offensive line.

10. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

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    Power

    20/25

    Ryan Mathews (6’0”, 220 lbs, four seasons) proved his doubters wrong in 2013. While not exactly a power back, given his size, he’s able to break tackles and drive through rushing lanes pretty well. Mathews isn’t a punishing force on the defense for an entire game, but on one carry, he can lower the boom if needed.

    Speed

    23/25

    You might think that injuries would sap some of Mathews’ speed, but he still has the juice to get away from a defense. His burst once past the first wave of defenders is top tier. He has the speed to keep a defensive coordinator up nights with his open-field moves.

    Vision

    35/40

    Mathews finds holes. Period. He has good vision and patience when stretching down the line and shows the cutback ability needed to succeed. He’ll find those creases between the tackles, too, when tough yards are needed.

    Receiving

    6/10

    A solid receiver, but not a consistent threat as a pass-catcher, Mathews is more of your prototypical running back. He can make plays on simple routes and passes, but nothing complex.

    Overall

    84/100

    After so many people wrote him off, us included, Mathews was brilliant in 2013. By staying healthy, he finally showed the promise that led to him being a top-12 draft pick in the 2010 class.

9. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

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    Power

    20/25

    Known as a speed back, C.J. Spiller (5’11”, 200 lbs, four seasons) has enough power to push the pile when needed. Of course, he does most of his damage outside of the tackle box, but Spiller does run with the needed lower-body power and push to be a factor when met by a defender or when the Bills need a tough yard or two.

    Speed

    25/25

    With a long run of 77 yards in 2013, Spiller showed the backbreaking speed for which he’s known. That acceleration makes him dangerous, and it’s why the Bills once flirted with playing him at wide receiver. Spiller’s 10-yard speed is amazing, but his second gear is just as jaw-dropping.

    Vision

    33/40

    When you watch Spiller run outside of the hashes, his ability to pick out a seam or an angle is impressive. Ask him to do the same between the tackles, and he’s not as defined. Spiller’s an outside runner, and that’s good enough for him to be productive and impactful.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Spiller’s hands are well developed, but he actually took a step back in receptions in 2013. He’s able to play flexed-out in the slot, in motion out of the backfield or split out from the snap.

    Overall

    85/100

    An exceptional athlete capable of beating a defense in so many ways, Spiller remains in our top 10 even after a drop in production during the 2013 season.

8. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

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    Power

    21/25

    DeAngelo Williams (5’9”, 215 lbs, eight seasons) is not built like a power back, but that doesn’t mean he won’t lower the boom on a defender who gets in his way. Williams is best known for his agility and speed, but he can run with good body lean and pad height to create yards after contact.

    Speed

    22/25

    Williams isn’t the burner he might have been earlier in his career, but he still has the giddy-up to pull away from a defense with a big play. He did that against the Saints late in the season and proved he can still make a long run when there’s daylight.

    Vision

    35/40

    Williams is a quality runner both inside and outside of the hashes, and that’s largely due to his vision on the go. He’ll make jump cuts to elude defenders and can shift and start once he finds a rushing lane. His peripheral vision is high level. Finding those lanes on the inside isn’t as developed as his outside game.

    Receiving

    8/10

    Williams’ hands make him a threat as a safety valve or designed threat out of the backfield. He looks the ball in well and has the athleticism to turn up field and make a play post-catch.

    Overall

    86/100

    A healthy Williams emerged as a go-to threat for the Panthers in 2013. It helped that he was finally 100 percent, but we’re also seeing what a dynamic Cam Newton does to the running game in Charlotte. Williams' numbers weren’t at an all-time high, but his impact was.

7. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

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    Power

    25/25

    Eddie Lacy (5’11”, 230 lbs, one season) hit the ground running in 2013 and became the workhorse back the Packers didn’t think they would need. But with Aaron Rodgers injured, Lacy became the team’s best offensive weapon. His big frame packs a punch when defenders try to meet him in the hole, and a solid combination of pure power and leverage makes Lacy one of the league’s toughest players to wrap up and tackle.

    Speed

    20/25

    Lacy doesn’t have the long speed to pull away from a defense and outrun the secondary to the end zone. What he does have is good start-and-stop speed and a nice first step. His top-end speed won’t wow you, but his burst is good enough to be a high-level starting back.

    Vision

    37/40

    Vision is always tough for a rookie running back, and Lacy saw his develop over the course of the season. By the playoffs, he was finding cutback lanes and lowering his shoulder pads to create holes from small creases. 

    Receiving

    4/10

    Lacy wasn’t known for his hands at Alabama, and in his first pro season, he wasn’t used much as a receiver. What we saw was a player best used on dumpoffs but likely replaced for speed screen packages.

    Overall

    86/100

    The best rookie back in the game, Lacy has the potential to eventually top this list. He has room to improve and great coaching. It’s all on him.

6. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers

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    Power

    23/25

    Frank Gore (5’9”, 217 lbs, nine seasons) seems to be getting better with age. With a naturally low center of gravity and exceptional balance, Gore is able to bounce off tacklers and defenders and find his way through the trenches unscathed. He’s also able to square up to a defender in the hole and put them on their tail if they try to take him on head-up.

    Speed

    17/25

    Breakaway speed is not part of Gore’s game, but it hasn’t been since his two knee injuries in college. He makes up for the lack of deep speed with balance, agility, short-area quickness and exceptional vision.

    Vision

    40/40

    LeSean McCoy has the NFL’s best vision outside the tackles. Gore has the NFL’s best vision between the tackles. No player in the game is better at finding tiny creases between the hashes and then bursting through traffic and into space. Gore is able to make himself small and then slide through holes you barely see on film.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Gore has soft hands and is a capable receiver going over the middle or releasing on screen plays. In 2013, drops weren’t exactly a factor, but his impact wasn’t as great in the passing game.

    Overall

    87/100

    The ageless wonder, Gore continues to be great at finding small cracks in the line to run through while flashing the burst, power and agility to consistently challenge the defense.

5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

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    Power

    21/25

    Matt Forte (6’2”, 218 lbs, six seasons) is a big back, and defenders feel that when he meets them in the hole. Forte has the pure strength to drive through tacklers and pick up yards after contact. Where can he improve? Lower pad level. As is the case for most taller running backs, Forte needs to get lower than his tacklers to be even more productive.

    Speed

    22/25

    A top-tier back, Forte attacks a defense with an all-around skill set. He’s not exceptionally fast, but he has good burst inside of 10 yards and is able to run away from defenders with a solid second gear. Even without great speed, Forte still rips off longer runs at times.

    Vision

    38/40

    A dual threat as an inside or outside runner, Forte is able to find rushing lanes either between the tackles or outside of the tackle box. He does an excellent job finding daylight and has the agility to attack cutback lanes and pick up unseen yardage.

    Receiving

    7/10

    Forte is a very good receiver, and that shows up with his production as a receiver out of the backfield. With 74 catches, he was a big part of the Chicago offense, but drops were also a bit of a factor for the former Tulane running back.

    Overall

    88/100

    Too often forgotten in the conversation about the NFL’s best backs, Forte has third-down ability and is a major force to be reckoned with.

4. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

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    Power

    25/25

    The NFL’s best pure power back, Marshawn Lynch (5’11”, 215 lbs, seven seasons) is an angry runner. That’s bad news for NFL defenders and great news for the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch relishes contact and not only seeks out bone-crushing hits on defenders, but is also elite in his ability to bounce off initial contact and pick up yards. Lynch’s penchant for always falling forward is the best in the business.

    Speed

    20/25

    Lynch doesn’t have great speed, but he does have good speed. Too often his power and yards-after-contact running lead people to forget that he’s able to run away from defenders, too. Remember his 40-yard run against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game? Lynch has speed.

    Vision

    38/40

    When evaluating vision, we want to see a runner recognize alternate rushing lanes on the go. That’s what Lynch does. As much as he lowers his head to carve out his own paths, he’ll also spot a cutback lane and flip his hips to get upfield. 

    Receiving

    8/10

    Did you know Lynch had 36 catches for the Seahawks this season? Many think of him as “just” a bowling-ball rusher, but he’s a solid all-around athlete with soft hands and good use in the screen and dump game.

    Overall

    91/100

    Raw power, toughness and vision have made Lynch into the NFL’s version of a wrecking ball. And in a rarity for NFL players, he seems to just get better with age.

3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Power

    20/25

    Jamaal Charles (5’11”, 199 lbs, six seasons) may not be very big, but he can pack a punch when met by a defender. With his burst and lower-body power, he’ll hit a defender and bounce off to continue picking up yardage. He’s not a bruiser, but he uses his power well in conjunction with his speed to make himself tough to bring down in the open field.

    Speed

    25/25

    Charles may be the NFL’s fastest running back—both on and off the field. When the ball is in his hands and there’s daylight in front of him, he can truly take the ball to the end zone in a blur. If he gets loose, defenders aren’t catching him from behind.

    Vision

    39/40

    Excellent at finding cutback lanes, Charles is great at seeing openings on the move. Given his speed and acceleration, his ability to see openings to his left or right is amazing. Charles’ vision isn’t so much between the tackles as it is in the open field.

    Receiving

    7/10

    A talented receiver and versatile route-runner, Charles did put the ball on the ground a few times this year. But when he’s on, he can be the team’s best pass-catcher. 

    Overall

    91/100

    As dynamic and dangerous as any running back in the NFL, Charles is tied for the No. 3 spot in this year’s running back rankings. He’s biting at the heels of our No. 1- and No. 2-ranked backs, though.

2. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Power

    22/25

    LeSean McCoy (5’11”, 208 lbs, five seasons) isn’t the biggest running back in the NFL, but he plays with surprising power for his size. McCoy consistently causes defenders to miss tackles—and even breaks tackles—thanks to his lower-body power and his agility in space. When met head-to-head by a defender, McCoy is versatile enough to lower his shoulder or shake them and take off.

    Speed

    23/25

    When McCoy takes off in space, he’s gone. He wouldn’t be the fastest back in the game in a 100-meter dash. But with the ball in his hands and pads on, he has the burst and acceleration to pull away from tacklers when he hits the edge or when he finds daylight.

    Vision

    40/40

    McCoy is supernatural in terms of vision. He sees the entire field so well and processes the information in a nanosecond. When faced with defenders, he finds openings that don’t seem to exist. With his agility—a trait we deem to be the best in the NFL—and his vision, McCoy can be nearly impossible to tackle in space.

    Receiving

    7/10

    A talented all-around player, McCoy is used often in the passing game. He can play coming out of the backfield and can even be put in motion to play in the slot. McCoy runs good routes and catches the ball on the go with soft hands.

    Overall

    92/100

    McCoy took home an All-Pro vote from me this year and was truly the most productive running back in the game. When based on a scouting profile, such as this, he comes in slightly outside of the No. 1 spot. 

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Power

    25/25

    One of the most powerful players in the NFL, Adrian Peterson (6’1”, 217 lbs, seven seasons) has the natural gifts to beat any defender. Despite being a naturally high runner, Peterson has the flexibility to lower his pads and attack defenders. He’s also strong enough to drive through a would-be tackler at the point of contact. Peterson’s power, pad leverage and leg drive are epic.

    Speed

    24/25

    Many people think of Peterson as a power runner, but the other aspect that makes his game so dominant is his speed. He’s fast enough to pull away from defenders in space and has a second gear that allows him to break big runs and run past defenders.

    Vision

    38/40

    There are players with better vision to find holes and openings, but Peterson finds them at 100 mph. He’s able to see the field on the move and doesn’t have to throttle down to cut back or attack a crease.

    Receiving

    6/10

    A solid receiver out of the backfield, Peterson can be a threat on dumpoffs and in the screen games. He’s not the type of receiver you flex out or play in the slot, though.

    Overall

    93/100

    Peterson remains the standard by which we judge all running backs. His 2013 season may not have been his most productive, but he also played with three quarterbacks in an offense that wasn’t able to throw the ball. Based on talent alone, he’s still the best.

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