B/R NFL 1000: Ranking the Top 80 Running Backs from 2015

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterFebruary 17, 2016

B/R NFL 1000: Ranking the Top 80 Running Backs from 2015

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    At the end of the 2015 NFL season, who was the best running back in the game? We're not talking about who made the Pro Bowl or even who got the All-Pro votes. Who was really, truly, the best? Forget reputation and how much money each player makes. We want cold, hard analysis that comes from watching the games and grading the players. 

    That's what the B/R NFL 1000 is for, and it's back for another year. 

    The B/R 1000 metric is based heavily on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance for a possible best score of 100.

    Potential is not taken into consideration. Neither are career accomplishments.

    Running backs are judged on speed (25 points), power (25), vision (25), receiving ability (15) and the overall value of the position relative to the other spots on the field (all running backs received eight points). The maximum score for this position is 98.

    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. 

    A team of experienced evaluators (Dan Bazal, Luke Easterling, Cian Fahey, Adam Heisler, Duke Manyweather, Marshal Miller and Matt Miller) scouted each player 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 from Pro Football Focus. Players' heights, weights and seasons played are from NFL.com. 

80-76. Grimes, Helu, Turbin, Robinson, White

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    Chris Keane/Associated Press

    80. Jonathan Grimes, Houston Texans

    68/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 18/25; Power: 14/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 12/15

    Jonathan Grimes has a significant amount of talent for a running back ranked this low. His consistency is his biggest issue. He isn’t an exceptionally tall back, but he runs so high that he limits how effective his power can be. Despite being elusive and relatively explosive, Grimes lacks the consistency in his vision to stay on the field for every down.

    79. Roy Helu, Oakland Raiders

    69/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 14/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 10/15

    Roy Helu likely expected to be more heavily involved with the Oakland Raiders in 2015. He played a bit-part role but showed flashes when given the ball. His touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears stood out in particular, as Helu cut away from multiple defenders in the flat to get the score. Helu is talented but needs more exposure to offer real value.

    78. Robert Turbin, Dallas Cowboys

    69/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 8/15

    Robert Turbin can be somewhat of a mirage. He went through a couple of teams in 2015 and had a lot of impressive runs, showing off outstanding power to drive his way through linebackers. However, those positive runs eventually got drowned out by poor vision and bad decisions, which tested the patience of the coaching staffs he worked under.

    77. Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints

    69/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 17/25; Power: 17/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 11/15

    An ugly broken leg ended Khiry Robinson’s season. The running back wasn’t making much of an impact because his touches were limited. Robinson was inconsistent with his vision but showed off the same physical tools that made him an enticing option over recent years. He has the talent to be a quality NFL back, but how he returns from such a serious injury will determine his future.

    76. James White, New England Patriots

    69/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 18/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 10/15

    There was a significant downgrade for the Patriots when they went from Dion Lewis to James White. He offered as much quickness as Lewis but was less elusive while not showing as much awareness when working between the tackles. He largely replaced what the offense lost in the passing game, though.

75-71. Michael, Jones, Allen, Cunningham, McCluster

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    75. Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks

    70/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 17/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 8/15

    It was an eventful season for Christine Michael. The running back failed in Seattle before failing in Dallas and eventually landed back in Seattle. Michael remains thoroughly inconsistent with his vision despite having the power and acceleration that make scouts salivate.

    74. Taiwan Jones, Oakland Raiders

    70/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 24/25; Power: 14/25; Vision: 14/25; Receiving: 10/15

    In 2015, Taiwan Jones had somewhat of a breakout year. The running back wasn’t a star for the Oakland Raiders, but he was a positive contributor. Jones has limited technical ability, which is why he wasn’t heavily featured, but he showed a better understanding of how to use his explosiveness in 2015.

    73. Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens

    70/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 20/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 10/15

    It’s clear that Javorius Allen is a talented space back. He can make defenders miss with ease because of his quick feet and burst. However, Allen needs to become more decisive with his movement and spend less time hesitating or moving laterally. He lacks the bulk and power to impact defenders, but he can’t let that affect how he approaches the line of scrimmage.

    72. Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams

    70/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 20/25; Power: 18/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 8/15

    There was a clear improvement in Benny Cunningham’s overall explosiveness in 2015. The running back still couldn’t compare to Todd Gurley, but his play suggested that he is going to carve out a long career as a backup in the NFL. If he's back with the Rams, he should be able to compete with Tre Mason for the primary backup job again in 2016.

    71. Dexter McCluster, Tennessee Titans

    70/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 20/25; Power: 15/25; Vision: 19/25; Receiving: 8/15

    Dexter McCluster was used as part of a committee in Tennessee. He primarily acted as the receiving back, mostly carrying the ball outside either tackle or on draw plays in the running game. McCluster was more consistent and explosive than in previous years, but he still had a limited impact.

70-66. West, Gray, Mason, Stacy, Williams

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    70. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs

    70/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 8/15

    The success of Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware is a testament to the intelligence of coach Andy Reid. His offenses pull defenses in different ways to create space for his running backs. West benefited a lot from that while being a disciplined and aggressive runner to get downfield quickly. He may not be an exceptional physical talent, but he was consistent in 2015.

    69. Jonas Gray, Jacksonville Jaguars

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 17/25; Power: 23/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 7/15

    Jonas Gray is a great example of a back who needs to be used in a specific way to succeed. The New England Patriots understood that he was a power back with some shiftiness to work between the tackles, but the Miami Dolphins tried to use him running to space more, even throwing him the ball on occasion.

    68. Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 20/25; Power: 15/25; Vision: 20/25; Receiving: 8/15

    In a surprising turn of events, Tre Mason was a better receiving back for the Rams than a runner in 2015. He was put in more space to work on passing plays while struggling to be as creative as Todd Gurley on running plays. It was an ironic turn for his career, considering he couldn’t get on the field early in his rookie season because of his lack of contributions in the passing game.

    67. Zac Stacy, New York Jets

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 17/25; Power: 17/25; Vision: 19/25; Receiving: 10/15

    Zac Stacy is the league’s best example of a back who lacks enough physical talent to show off his vision and technical refinement. If playing behind a strong offensive line, he can be a productive runner, but that wasn’t the case in 2015.

    66. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 17/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 8/15

    One of the reasons Karlos Williams was injured so often during his rookie season was the way he runs. He is a physical runner who possesses the ability to blow through defenders whenever he touches the ball. Williams also has enough long speed and quickness to be an every-down back.

65-61. Thompson, Langford, Hillman, Gore, Darkwa

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    65. Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 15/25; Vision: 18/25; Receiving: 9/15

    Chris Thompson was drafted to be a receiving back for Washington but quickly showed off the kind of skill set that suggests he can become more. The Washington backfield was too crowded for him to be a prominent runner in 2015, but when he did get the ball, he showed off elusiveness and intelligence running outside.

    64. Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 23/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 7/15

    Matt Forte has never been blessed with a great burst of acceleration, so it was a big change for the Chicago Bears offense when Jeremy Langford filled in for him during the season. He changes direction comfortably to be a decisive and effective runner. He has potential as a runner, but way too many drops could limit his upside in the passing game.

    63. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 15/25; Vision: 18/25; Receiving: 9/15

    Ronnie Hillman may not have lived up to expectations so far in his career, but he definitely took a step in the right direction in 2015. Hillman carved out a role for the Broncos, acting as a spark for Gary Kubiak’s running game when they needed to inject some speed and elusiveness into the backfield.

    62. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

    71/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 16/25; Power: 17/25; Vision: 23/25; Receiving: 7/15

    Despite being in the twilight of his career, Frank Gore still showed off his trademark quickness and vision in 2015. He was less explosive than in past years, though, and being trapped in the Colts offense made that explosiveness more important than ever before. Gore can still be a good back, but he needs to be set up better for success.

    61. Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 18/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 8/15

    Orleans Darkwa could be a dark-horse contributor for the New York Giants in a post-Tom Coughlin world. Darkwa has the physical talent to be a better back than Andre Williams, but the latter earned more playing time under Coughlin because of his consistency playing to his skill set. Darkwa needs to prove himself, but he’s capable of being effective at this level.

60-56. Davis, Crowell, Ware, Ajayi, Jackson

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    60. Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 23/25; Power: 17/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 7/15

    Although he can’t gain the trust of the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff as the primary replacement for Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis’ physical talents are still obvious. His long kick return for a touchdown in the playoffs highlighted that potential, even if it once again wasn’t realized in 2015.

    59. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 16/25; Power: 20/25; Vision: 20/25; Receiving: 8/15

    The Browns drafted Duke Johnson in 2015 to be a complement to Crowell because the latter isn’t a viable receiving option. Crowell had previously proved to be a good runner but regressed in 2015, making poor decisions and not showing off the same control working outside the tackles.

    58. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 18/25; Power: 22/25; Vision: 18/25; Receiving: 6/15

    When the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles for the season with a torn ACL, they were forced to turn to a committee to replace him. The power back of that committee was Spencer Ware. He shows off quick feet and a short-area burst to get the most out of his low pad level and bulk. He didn’t need to show great vision but found the space he was given.

    57. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 20/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 11/15

    The Miami Dolphins drafted Jay Ajayi to be a big-body complement to Lamar Miller, but they likely didn’t expect him to be as explosive as he was in limited action. If Ajayi’s health holds up and he can become more consistent with his aggressiveness, he could be a starter moving forward.

    56. Fred Jackson, Seattle Seahawks

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 17/25; Power: 18/25; Vision: 19/25; Receiving: 10/15

    It was surprising when Fred Jackson decided to join the Seattle Seahawks instead of going somewhere he could potentially start. It quickly became clear that Jackson had lost a step physically, though. He still proved to be a valuable but not exceptional receiving option for the Seahawks.

55-51. Draughn, Powell, Lewis, Johnson, Williams

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    55. Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 17/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 16/25; Receiving: 15/15

    At this stage of his career, it’s unlikely that Shaun Draughn will ever be more than just a complementary back. He is too physically limited and not consistent enough with his decision-making to overcome it. Draughn runs hard and has some value as a receiver, but he lacks a special trait to carve out a role in a good offense.

    54. Bilal Powell, New York Jets

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 18/25; Power: 16/25; Vision: 20/25; Receiving: 10/15

    Any back who lacks a great physical trait has to be a technically sound one. Bilal Powell isn't hugely creative or especially consistent with his decision-making between the tackles, but he is smart on screen plays and when the offense can put him in space naturally. His elusiveness and versatility as a receiver make him valuable to the Jets.

    53. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 20/25; Power: 15/25; Vision: 22/25; Receiving: 7/15

    Dion Lewis was a big surprise for the Patriots at running back in 2015. The diminutive runner offered transcendent value before being injured, making defenders miss and creating running lanes with his vision consistently. Lewis excelled in the passing game also, but he had six drops on 46 targets, per Pro Football Focus.

    52. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns

    72/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 15/25; Vision: 17/25; Receiving: 11/15

    After playing so little during the preseason, it was no surprise that Duke Johnson wasn’t heavily involved during his rookie season. The Browns limited his touches early in the year and mostly used him as a receiving back later on. He is a talented player who needs enough opportunities to show off his impressive vision, speed and receiving ability.

    51. Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins

    73/98

    Positional Value: 8/8; Speed: 21/25; Power: 14/25; Vision: 15/25; Receiving: 15/15

    Damien Williams has the skill set to be a valuable receiving option in a pass-heavy offense. He needs to prove his consistency, and the Dolphins weren’t creative enough in how they used him in the passing game to allow him to prosper.

50. Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Speed

    17/25

    Playing with Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon made Matt Asiata's speed look less impressive than it actually was in 2015. Asiata isn't a big-play threat or excessively elusive in space, but he does have enough quickness and burst to be an effective runner between the tackles.

    Power

    22/25

    Asiata runs high, offering defenders a big target to hit. Linebackers can punish him with big hits, and he isn't capable of exploding through contact to consistently break tackles. This limits his value overall, but he can still be an effective short-yardage back because he typically finishes plays moving forward.

    Vision 

    17/25

    Being a disciplined runner who understands how to combine patience and aggression can go a long way in the NFL. Asiata lacks physical skills but knows how to set up his blocks and find the space his offensive line gives him.

    Receiving

    9/15

    Asiata had a couple of drops, and he's not a versatile option who can line up out wide to run routes downfield. His main value in the passing game comes as a pass-blocker.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

49. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts

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    Chris Keane/Associated Press

    Speed

    17/25

    It was no surprise that Ahmad Bradshaw was a step slower than he used to be when the Colts signed him during the 2015 season. Bradshaw was in the final stages of a career that has been marred by injuries. He was once extremely quick when moving laterally with a short-area burst that allowed him to pick his way through poor blocking. In 2015, that simply wasn't the case.

    Power

    16/25

    An aggressive and violent runner whose body simply doesn't possess the power it once did, Bradshaw couldn't run through defensive backs or gain extra ground through the arms of linebackers in 2015.

    Vision 

    23/25

    The Colts only had Bradshaw on the field for six games in 2015, so the sample to evaluate his decision-making was small. When he was on the field, the disruption to the design of the Colts' blocking schemes too often forced him to adjust uncomfortably.

    Receiving

    9/15

    Bradshaw didn't offer an explosive or dynamic element to the Colts passing game while still managing multiple drops on a small number of targets.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

48. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Speed

    16/25

    The downfall of Eddie Lacy has been a result of one clear issue: his lack of speed. Lacy appeared to be out of shape throughout the 2015 season, struggling to change direction as quickly as in seasons past and lacking a burst of explosiveness to get through the line of scrimmage. He was a plodder who negated the rest of his skill set by being unable to move comfortably.

    Power

    20/25

    With his bulk, Lacy was still a powerful back who could force his way through contact in 2015. His lack of burst did limit his ability to explode through tackles, but his sheer size made him effective at the tackle point in space and when trying to move the pile between the tackles.

    Vision 

    21/25

    It was difficult to evaluate Lacy's vision in 2015 because of his lack of speed. He had previously proved to be an intelligent back who understood how to set up his runs and pick apart a defensive front to find space. He still appeared capable of that in 2015, but running lanes closed on him more quickly than in previous years.

    Receiving

    8/15

    The Packers don't ask their running backs to be versatile receiving options. Lacy proved to be a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield and disciplined on simple screen plays. He didn't show off great ball skills, but he was consistent catching the ball.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

47. Shane Vereen, New York Giants

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    Shane Vereen is still firmly in the prime of his career. As such, it’s no surprise that his physical quickness, balance and overall explosiveness remain impressive. Vereen has every attribute to excel regardless of how he is used. That was the case in New England, and it was the case in New York.

    Power

    15/25

    Vereen does weigh over 200 pounds, but he doesn’t play with great power. He will aggressively attack contact and show no reluctance when working between the tackles, but one would be misguided expecting him to break through to find space downfield.

    Vision 

    20/25

    The Giants were inconsistent in their usage of Vereen in 2015. He should have been a more prominent part of the offense, but they can also point to his inconsistency when on the field to justify his involvement. Vereen was less effective than teammate Rashad Jennings when working outside the design of running plays behind the Giants' depleted offensive line.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Drops have been the only thing preventing Vereen from being a superstar receiving back over the course of his career. In 2015, he was marred by inconsistency again. According to Pro Football Focus, Vereen dropped five passes.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

46. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Speed

    25/25

    It's still clear that Chris Johnson has the long speed to break away from defenders for big plays, but he has also lost a step. He had a step to lose considering he was the fastest back in the league during his prime. Johnson doesn't look to make aggressive jump cuts, but his light frame allows him to be agile in tight spaces, while his short-area burst is effective.

    Power

    15/25

    Johnson lacks the bulk to be an effective power back in the NFL, but he did show a willingness to be aggressive at the point of contact in 2015. That aggressiveness contributed more to his finishing plays moving forward rather than breaking the tackles of defensive linemen and linebackers.

    Vision 

    18/25

    After the early stages of his career, when he was an electrifying playmaker who threatened the defense on every snap, Johnson lost his way a bit. He struggled to make the right decision consistently, regularly overrunning open running lanes or simply never seeing ones that opened in front of him. In 2015, he played with more discipline and intelligence. He didn't force plays outside or miss opportunities to get to the sideline when the opportunities came up.

    Receiving

    7/15

    The Cardinals didn't look to Johnson as a receiver much in 2015. He has the athleticism to be dangerous on screens and out of the backfield, but his ball skills are unnatural and uncomfortable.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

45. James Starks, Green Bay Packers

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    James Starks' speed is his greatest strength. He is a long-striding runner who can incorporate multiple bursts of acceleration into his runs. Starks hits full speed quickly, but he's not exceptionally quick because of his frame. He is best suited making one cut and cycling through his gears instead of trying to use his footwork to deceive opponents through turning.

    Power

    16/25

    Starks has a lot of power to use when approaching contact. He can break arm tackles from defensive linemen who are trying to close tight running lanes and can also drop his shoulder to run through defensive backs in space. Starks' problem is his height. At 6'2", he is a big target to hit, so shorter, stockier linebackers are able to punish him.

    Vision 

    18/25

    This is where Starks lets himself down. He has enough physical traits to be a consistent big-play threat, but he relies on those big plays to be effective. Starks can't consistently carry an offense without big plays because he lacks subtlety. He doesn't understand how to set up his blocks or manipulate defenders with his movement before the line of scrimmage and too often misses open running lanes to force the play outside.

    Receiving

    9/15

    The Packers offense primarily used Starks out of the backfield. He was effective on screen plays because of his athleticism in space, but he lacked the natural receiving ability to line up out wide and run diverse routes. Starks also struggled with concentration drops too often.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

44. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

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    Associated Press

    Speed

    25/25

    From a purely physical point of view, Tevin Coleman appears to be an ideal fit in Kyle Shanahan's running scheme. He is best suited to be a one-cut back who can accelerate and re-accelerate to get to spots on the field quickly. He also has the long speed to exploit space once he finds his way to the second level, even though his quickness and footwork can be inconsistent.

    Power

    15/25

    Coleman couldn't break tackles in college, and it's been a major issue in the NFL as well. It's not simply that he lacks the bulk or physical ability to generate power; it's that he submits to contact instead of attempting to punish defenders with a violent running style.

    Vision 

    17/25

    It's clear that Coleman was getting accustomed to running in this offense as a rookie. Injuries didn't help him adjust, but the rookie didn't understand when to be patient and when to cut back. His timing will need to improve if he is to become anything more than a backup to Devonta Freeman.

    Receiving

    8/15

    When it's late in the season and you have more drops than receptions, you're not offering value as a receiver. Coleman is not a natural catcher of the ball, and he doesn't offer versatility to line up in different spots on the field.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    73/98

43. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    Even during his prime, DeMarco Murray was never known for his speed. He's never been a slow back, but his acceleration and straight-line speed aren't on the same level as that of the fastest backs in the NFL. Murray also isn't a hugely fluid mover when changing directions, but he does comfortably plant and push off his feet in both directions.

    Power

    17/25

    When the Eagles signed Murray, he was projected as an ideal fit because of his power running between the tackles. Then Chip Kelly changed how he ran his offense and neutralized the running back's power. Because Murray was spending so much time directed toward either sideline, he couldn't build up momentum to punish defenses. He still flashed power, but the consistency wasn't where it was previously.

    Vision 

    20/25

    When given the ball between the tackles, Murray proved to be a smart runner who made good decisions. When the Eagles directed him outside following blockers, he rarely had reads he could make. The scheme negated his vision, as his choices became press the hole/cut back. He wasn't as comfortable executing these reads as he had been running behind the Cowboys line in 2014.

    Receiving

    7/15

    Murray had too many drops in 2015. It was an epidemic for the Eagles but also a result of the team not really understanding how to use him. Murray was regularly targeted on flares to the flat when he wasn't given any space to create yardage downfield and his momentum was pushing all the space out of the play.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

42. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Speed

    17/25

    Joique Bell is a heavy running back who runs like a heavy running back. The veteran lacks quick-twitch ability and can show off heavy feet that prevent him from making acute cuts in tight spaces. Bell is best suited as a one-cut runner who primarily works between the tackles and never moves laterally.

    Power

    19/25

    In 2015, Bell wasn’t as explosive as he has been in seasons past. This limited his ability to finish plays moving forward and break tackles. Too often he was submitting to tackles instead of aggressively fighting through them to get the most yardage possible. He was still one of the better power backs in the league, but not one of the very best.

    Vision 

    19/25

    Because of his physical makeup, Bell is best suited to be a point-and-go runner. He has to pick a hole and attack it without looking to make greater-than-subtle movements. Bell can get the most out of the space his blockers give him, but he won’t elevate them with his creativity.

    Receiving

    11/15

    Theo Riddick did most of the receiving work in Detroit, but Bell was reliable when thrown to, dropping just one pass on 27 targets, per Pro Football Focus. He’s not exceptionally explosive or versatile, but he did what he was asked to do in 2015.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

41. Matt Jones, Washington Redskins

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    Running behind the Washington offensive line, Matt Jones was regularly asked to force plays outside. It was clear that he was more comfortable accelerating to the edge than his teammate, Alfred Morris. Jones could force plays wide quickly before planting his foot to re-accelerate back infield comfortably.

    Power

    22/25

    Jones shows off what appears to be a slender frame, but it's not a light frame. He is a tall back with the size to punish linebackers and break the arm tackles of defensive linemen. Jones' physicality is only limited by his running style.

    Vision 

    17/25

    Being decisive in the Washington running game is important. Jones is decisive. He makes powerful, hard cuts and can break through tighter running lanes better than most backs can. What holds Jones back is that his decisions aren't always good ones. He needs to show off a better balance of patience and aggression when approaching the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    7/15

    Through a combination of quality blocking and his vision, Jones had some of the easiest big gains on screen plays in 2015. He isn't a versatile back, and he had some drop issues, but his explosion and awareness working from the backfield were hugely valuable to his quarterback.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

40. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Speed

    21/25

    Coming out of college, it was clear that Ameer Abdullah was a freakish athlete. On the field, he showed off outstanding acceleration and speed while being able to change direction in an instant. Abdullah didn't have to work on his footwork in tight spaces on a regular basis at the college level, which is something that became an issue in the NFL.

    Power

    14/25

    Abdullah runs aggressively with great acceleration, but he appears to lack bulk in his body to break tackles. Unless he is at or close to top speed, he isn't going to consistently break arm tackles from bigger players.

    Vision 

    22/25

    The Lions didn't run the ball a lot in 2015 because their offensive line was so limited as a run-blocking unit. Abdullah was put under pressure to be a creative back from the beginning of his career even though that's not his game. As such, he was reliant on creating big plays outside or in space to push his average up.

    Receiving

    9/15

    With his acceleration and long speed, Abdullah belongs in space. The receiving game is a way to do it, but Abdullah isn't a versatile receiver, so Theo Riddick played ahead of him on passing downs.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

39. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    At just 27 years of age, it's unlikely that Alfred Morris has lost a step. He didn't show off the same level of all-around speed in 2015, though. Morris was closer to a plodding back than the impressive one-cut runner he had been in seasons past. To be a more effective runner, he needed to show more short-area quickness and acceleration.

    Power

    19/25

    In previous years, the Washington offense relied on Morris to wear the defense down on a huge number of carries. His bulk and power allowed him to finish plays moving forward and punish linebackers who didn't go low. Because he was less explosive in 2015 and wasn't given the ball as often, his power was less impactful.

    Vision 

    20/25

    Morris wasn't reading his offensive line's zone blocking as consistently in 2015 as he had in 2014. His general lack of comfort on the field appeared to make him more hesitant when looking to plant his foot and attack gaps. He didn't blow through smaller gaps in the defense with as much success.

    Receiving

    8/15

    The presence of Matt Jones meant that Jay Gruden's offense could continue to ignore Morris in the passing game.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

38. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    Giovani Bernard benefited from how offensive coordinator Hue Jackson ran the Cincinnati Bengals offense in 2015. Jackson's focus on stretching defenses horizontally and vertically created space for Bernard to work in. He showed off his quickness and speed to pick up yardage downfield. Bernard doesn't have a great burst of acceleration, so the naturally created space played to his strengths.

    Power

    15/25

    Although he is primarily an elusive back, Bernard isn't susceptible to punishment at the point of contact. He fights through defenders and possesses enough thickness to leave an impression. He was able to consistently break tackles in 2015 by combining his speed and power, not just relying on making plays in space.

    Vision 

    23/25

    Vision was less of an issue for Bernard in the Bengals offense. He was often directed to space and only needed to avoid turning away from running lanes that were obvious. Bernard did show quick feet and awareness to create yards outside when plays were completely stuffed up the middle.

    Receiving

    8/15

    In the Bengals offense, Bernard's ability to create yards after the catch on short throws in the flat and on screen plays was huge. He could also line up out wide, but his primary value came when the Bengals worked to put the ball in his hands quickly. He did have five regular-season drops, though, per Pro Football Focus.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

37. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    Like most recent Alabama backs, T.J. Yeldon isn't much of a long-speed threat. However, unlike most recent Alabama backs, Yeldon is a fluid athlete with quick feet. When you add in an impressive short-area burst and enough long speed to still take advantage of space he is given, Yeldon is an above-average athlete at his position.

    Power

    17/25

    Yeldon is stronger than he is powerful. The running back is able to bounce off tacklers and withstand hard hits, but he doesn't consistently punish defenders at the point of contact by exploding through them. He can finish plays moving forward because he combines his strength and fluidity to maintain better balance than his opponents.

    Vision 

    20/25

    The Jaguars likely drafted Yeldon because of his reliability. Denard Robinson offers more explosiveness, and Toby Gerhart is a bulkier body. What separates Yeldon most is his consistency with his decision-making. He strikes an ideal balance between patience and aggression to be a decisive, intelligent runner.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Yeldon is a comfortable receiver who isn't exceptionally versatile, but he was able to create yardage after the catch for some big plays when targeted out of the backfield. He had a couple of drops but not enough to be deemed an unreliable back.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    74/98

36. Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans

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    Associated Press

    Speed

    16/25

    It's hard to argue that Antonio Andrews is a speed back. He isn't slow, but his primary strengths revolve around his physical strength rather than his explosiveness. What does stand out with Andrews' speed is his quickness. He is a fluid mover who can change direction in tight spaces and accelerate through closing running lanes.

    Power

    20/25

    Andrews runs as hard as any back in the league. He has a thick-but-compact frame that doesn't have much weight working against him. This allows Andrews to be explosive through contact while still carrying bulk to break tackles. He initially broke into the Titans backfield as the short-yardage back but earned a greater share of touches when it was clear his power carried over into the rest of his well-rounded skill set.

    Vision 

    20/25

    Behind the Tennessee Titans offensive line, Andrews was regularly trapped with nowhere to go. He created many of the yards he earned by displaying patience and awareness of how plays were developing in front of him. He rarely looked to break toward the outside, instead understanding where his skill set best allowed him to succeed.

    Receiving

    11/15

    Considering how he broke into the team, it was surprising to see how often Andrews was used in the passing game as a receiver. He didn't show off a well-rounded skill set, but he did have natural hands working out of the backfield and an awareness of space when working with blockers after the catch.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    75/98

35. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Speed

    16/25

    Athleticism isn't an issue for Carlos Hyde. When he was at his best in 2015, he was showing off well-rounded explosiveness. His quickness to change direction in tight areas and his burst allowed him to be effective on cutback plays, while his long speed was above average in open space.

    Power

    22/25

    Hyde likes to hit defenders. He doesn't submit to tackles, instead showing off a violent streak that allows him to concentrate his aggression and strength into a smaller area. Hyde can explode through defensive backs while finishing moving forward through linebackers consistently.

    Vision 

    22/25

    There was a lot of inconsistency in Hyde's play during his second season in the NFL. That can be traced back to his decision-making. He pushes too many plays outside, missing open running lanes when they're available to him. Hyde isn't a small back, and he doesn't fear contact, so this should be something that can be coached out of him.

    Receiving

    7/15

    The 49ers didn't use Hyde much as a receiving option, so it was difficult to measure his effectiveness.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    75/98

34. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Speed

    25/25

    In his first two seasons, Jerick McKinnon has proved that he had the speed to be a big-play threat at this level. In 2015, playing a backup role to Adrian Peterson allowed McKinnon to be fresher when he did see the field, which made him even more explosive. 

    Power

    15/25

    Despite his relatively slender frame, McKinnon isn't an easy back to tackle. He is a violent runner who combines thick limbs and enough bulk to explode through contact. McKinnon didn't always break tackles, but he was able to finish plays moving forward against bigger linebackers.

    Vision 

    16/25

    Playing less allowed McKinnon to be more effective in 2015. He showed a better understanding of when to put his foot in the ground and accelerate toward a running lane as opposed to when he needed to show patience at the line of scrimmage. Most notably, McKinnon demonstrated better awareness of the bodies around him when in the open field.

    Receiving

    12/15

    Very little about McKinnon's play is natural. That includes his play as a receiver, but he did prove to be a consistent catcher of the ball in 2015. He was mostly limited to screens and simple routes out of the backfield, which curtailed the impact of his explosiveness.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    76/98

33. Chris Polk, Houston Texans

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    Chris Polk's ability to change gears in an instant immediately stands out in his tape. His short-area burst is largely evident when he accelerates in straight lines, but he failed to show off the same speed when shuffling his feet. Polk is a big play waiting to happen.

    Power

    20/25

    Considering his height and weight (5'11", 222 lbs), Polk should be a more powerful runner. He can still be effective when running low and hard between the tackles, but he is too easy to take down for linebackers in tight spaces.

    Vision 

    20/25

    Not a creative or patient back, Polk spends most of his time going in search of the big play. He sometimes finds big plays, but he doesn't do it often enough to make up for the yards he loses when making poor decisions behind his blockers.

    Receiving

    8/15

    Polk had a couple of drops early on during the season that tarnished his campaign as a whole. He's not a versatile receiver and can be impatient on screen passes.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    76/98

32. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Speed

    21/25

    The career resurgence of Darren Sproles continued in Philadelphia again during the 2015 season. Sproles showed off the same quickness and acceleration that have allowed him to be so effective throughout his career while still maintaining enough long speed to be a big-play threat whenever he touched the ball.

    Power

    14/25

    Sproles is short, but he's thick. He uses his thickness and acceleration, along with his low center of gravity, to power through arm tackles and finish plays moving forward. He may not be powerful enough to run through defenders from a standing start, but so long as Sproles has his explosiveness, he should be a dangerous back at the point of contact.

    Vision 

    24/25

    One of the smartest backs in the NFL when he finds space, Sproles' vision is what makes him such a dangerous receiver on screens and as a returner. When running between the tackles, he is most effective when he only has to make one cut to get downfield quickly.

    Receiving

    9/15

    Sproles had a few too many drops in 2015, but his versatility and explosiveness made him more than just an effective third-down back. He may not be the standard bearer for receiving backs anymore, but his quality still stands out.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    76/98

31. Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    When Melvin Gordon came out of the 2015 NFL draft, his speed was his main selling point. The running back has the kind of breakaway speed that justifies his comparisons to Jamaal Charles, but so far he hasn't shown the same short-area quickness and burst of acceleration.

    Power

    18/25

    Most speed backs in the NFL lack the bulk that Gordon possesses. He doesn't need to have built-up momentum to break tackles; he can lower his shoulder and drive through linebackers to gain extra yardage. To be more consistently effective, he has to show off better body control and more uniform balance against potential tacklers.

    Vision 

    19/25

    This is where Gordon really let the Chargers down this season. He ran behind a limited offensive line that was once again decimated by injuries, but Gordon didn't elevate his supporting cast in any way. His tendency to stop his feet behind the line of scrimmage and miss opportunities to get upfield was a problem.

    Receiving

    11/15

    With Danny Woodhead on the roster, Gordon's receiving options were limited. He didn't appear to be a natural back, but he had reliable hands during the regular season and used his athleticism to break off some significant gains out of the backfield.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    76/98

30. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Speed

    18/25

    Theo Riddick is quicker than fast. He shows off impressive footwork and short-area quickness to change direction in a hurry but lacks the long speed or acceleration to pull away from defenders downfield. He won’t outrun angles or build up enough speed to run through tacklers, but he can be elusive in tight areas.

    Power

    15/25

    A lack of power is what prevents Riddick from being a full-time running back. He is primarily used as a receiver because he isn’t a great threat between the tackles. Riddick won’t break tackles against linebackers consistently or finish plays moving forward often enough to provide value.

    Vision 

    21/25

    While not being exceptionally athletic, Riddick is smart. He won’t leave many yards on the field and is able to create better leverage for his blockers with his movement behind the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    14/15

    Riddick caught an outrageous number of passes (80) for the Lions in 2015. His consistency at the catch point and comfort moving around the field made him effective as a starting receiver. Working from the backfield or lining up out wide, Riddick is hugely valuable in the passing game. The only thing he lacks is breakaway speed.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    76/98

29. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    Even though Doug Martin was outstanding in 2015, it was always clear that Charles Sims was the faster back when he got opportunities on the field. Sims showed off an outstanding short-area burst with enough agility to be an effective one-cut runner in the NFL.

    Power

    16/25

    More of a strong back than a powerful one, Sims doesn't consistently explode through tackles, but he can bounce off defenders who don't tackle with perfect technique. He runs with an intensity that allows him to fight forward for every possible inch.

    Vision 

    20/25

    While not as creative a running back as his starting teammate in Tampa Bay, Sims showed off enough consistency and awareness with his decision-making to make the Buccaneers feel good about their young backup. Sims particularly stood out when working outside of the tackles.

    Receiving

    12/15

    Sims was a big part of the passing game. He proved to be dangerous on screen plays, understanding how to be patient behind his blocks before striking when the opportunity arose. He could line up out wide also, but he had a limited route tree.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    76/98

28. C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    Speed

    21/25

    Even though the Saints didn’t appear to be happy with C.J. Spiller’s performance in 2015, his speed was still an obvious strength. The veteran back is as fluid and quick as any back in the league with the long speed and acceleration to break away downfield.

    Power

    15/25

    Unlike teammate Mark Ingram, Spiller struggled against contact in New Orleans. According to Pro Football Focus, he broke just five tackles all season long on running and passing plays combined.

    Vision 

    18/25

    Spiller can be a frustrating player. That has always been the case dating back to his days in Buffalo. He has the creativity to manipulate defenders while working behind the line of scrimmage, but his decision-making lacks consistency to take the yards that his offensive line gives him.

    Receiving

    15/15

    Arguably the most talented receiving back in the NFL, Spiller wasn't at his best in 2015, but he still didn’t drop a pass all season long while offering big plays when he was put in space.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

27. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Speed

    21/25

    For as long as Ryan Mathews has been in the NFL, he has been one of the most explosive players in the league. Mathews has easy athleticism that is highlighted by his ability to burst toward top speed in a step or two. His lean body allows him to change direction quickly, while his long speed makes him a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

    Power

    18/25

    Durability has always been an issue for Mathews, and part of the reason for that is the way he runs. He isn't a big back or a heavy back, but he runs with great power because he is an aggressive back. When he gets close to top speed, Mathews doesn't go to the ground easily.

    Vision 

    22/25

    A lot of Mathews' runs in 2015 were sweep plays to either sideline. In those situations, he was being asked to read his lead blockers and determine whether to accelerate toward the edge or try to cut back infield. He showed off a natural instinct that let him know when to cut back or force the play outside.

    Receiving

    8/15

    Like most in Philadelphia, Mathews had too many drops in 2015. He didn't catch a large number of passes, but when he did, he was able to create big plays with his athleticism in space.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

26. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    The Giants don't prioritize home run-hitting ability in their backfield. Rashad Jennings is fast enough to escape downfield for big plays, but he is more well-rounded than explosive when it comes to his athleticism. Jennings can change direction in tight spaces and accelerate away from linebackers to outrun angles.

    Power

    21/25

    Jennings has a relatively slender frame for his listed size. The 6’1” and 231-pound back carries his weight well and runs more violently than most backs in the league. His willingness to consistently attack contact allows him to finish plays moving forward and break tackles against defenders of all kind.

    Vision 

    18/25

    The Giants had all kinds of offensive line problems in 2015. This meant that the team’s backs were put under more pressure to be creative behind the line of scrimmage. Jennings was forced to work outside of the design of plays often, but he did so effectively because of his awareness and ability to cut through tighter holes.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Jennings had a couple of drops and a fumble as a receiver this season. He still showed off versatility and enough explosiveness to threaten big plays consistently.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

25. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    One of the quickest backs in the NFL with the burst to get through small gaps in the line of scrimmage, Danny Woodhead may not be a breakaway back when he hits the open field, but his size and his short-area speed make him a valuable player. It was those attributes that allowed him to take so much of Melvin Gordon's workload.

    Power

    14/25

    The Chargers didn't use Woodhead as a short-yardage back because of his physical power, but it can be difficult to bring down a player of his size and speed who runs aggressively. Woodhead is never going to be confused with Adrian Peterson, but he does have deceptive power.

    Vision 

    22/25

    It was yet another season for the San Diego Chargers when they were forced to play with a depleted offensive line. Woodhead was put under more pressure to create yardage than was ideal. Because he can fit through tighter gaps than most backs, Woodhead has built-in advantages when approaching the defensive front. He is also a disciplined runner who will consistently find space he is given.

    Receiving

    13/15

    Arguably one of the best receiving backs in the NFL at this stage of his career, Woodhead's versatility to line up anywhere on the field and run any kind of route makes him hugely valuable to Philip Rivers. He had a few drops in 2015, but his overall contributions overshadowed those.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

24. Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    Speed

    21/25

    Injuries and age have diminished Darren McFadden's speed over the course of his career. He still has the ability to threaten big plays with his long speed, but he's no longer intimidating defenses the way he could early in his career. McFadden was never the most agile back, and his feet can be slow at times when advancing through the line of scrimmage.

    Power

    17/25

    McFadden is more of a strong back than a powerful or explosive one. He can break tackles when he has built up his momentum, but he isn't the type of quick-twitch athlete to explode through contact from a standing start. Because the Cowboys offensive line is one of the better units in the league, he was regularly put in positions to run with his momentum.

    Vision 

    22/25

    Throughout the course of his career, McFadden has never been a hugely creative back. He is at his best when he follows a lead blocker through the hole or runs power behind a pulling guard. In Dallas, he was tasked with finding cutback lanes and pressing outside runs. While he was capable, he didn't excel at making decisions, too often leaving yards on the field.

    Receiving

    9/15

    McFadden consistently caught the ball in 2015 but didn't add much versatility or explosiveness to the passing game.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

23. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Speed

    18/25

    Even when Justin Forsett was enjoying his breakout season for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, he wasn’t showing off exceptional speed. He is a well-rounded back who is above average in terms of burst, quickness and long speed, but he doesn’t have any one truly great trait.

    Power

    15/25

    Forsett is the rare effective back who is neither exceptionally quick nor exceptionally powerful. He is a light back who shows off impressive strength but lacks the power to run through linebackers. He won’t be punished by big hits, but he doesn't lower his shoulder to punish defenders consistently either.

    Vision 

    23/25

    Forsett can function in any situation because of his intelligence. He is always aware of what is happening around him and can manipulate defenders on the second level before he comes close to crossing the line of scrimmage. Running zone behind the Ravens offensive line allowed him to show off his patience and aggressiveness by recognizing cutback lanes.

    Receiving

    13/15

    Forsett only lacks as a receiver is greater explosiveness. He is comfortable catching the ball and shows the patience and vision to take advantage of blockers on screen plays.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

22. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    Although he is not a slow back, Jeremy Hill isn’t built for speed. He has an impressive short-area burst and enough long speed to be a big-play threat, but he lacks the agility to change direction quickly in tight spaces.

    Power

    22/25

    The Bengals didn’t run as much power in 2015 as they did during Hill’s rookie season. As such, the back didn’t get to show off his power as often as he could have. Despite his usage, Hill was still able to score 11 touchdowns in the running game, which was a reflection of how difficult it was for opposing defenders to bring him down.

    Vision 

    22/25

    Hill is at his best when following a lead blocker and running from behind his quarterback. He shouldn’t be asked to take the ball in shotgun formations where he has to make reads with less momentum. The young back excels when he only has to make one read and cut toward space. He won’t excel as a creative, before-the-line-of-scrimmage runner.

    Receiving

    6/15

    Not a versatile receiving back or a particularly reliable one, Hill dropped too many passes in 2015.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

21. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Speed

    23/25

    For such a big body, David Johnson has an easy stride. He also has a long stride that allows him to cover a huge amount of ground when running unopposed. Outrunning angles in space and accelerating away from potential tacklers aren't problems for Johnson. He is an agile runner for his size, but his straight-line speed stands out the most.

    Power

    17/25

    Johnson is a tall runner (6'1") who sometimes struggles to get his pads down. This leaves him exposed to more punishment from defenders. When he does create a compact surface area, he can deliver heavy blows and explode through contact. He is much more likely to break tackles in space where he can use his movement skills more.

    Vision 

    19/25

    It was clear that Johnson became more comfortable as the season went on. He showed some hesitation in his decision-making during the early stages of the season, but that hesitation turned to patience later in the year as Johnson displayed a better understanding of when to slow down and when to accelerate behind the line of scrimmage.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Johnson is a versatile receiving option who can create big plays from the backfield or when he lines up out wide. He's not a precise route-runner, but he is comfortable moving in space. Drops were the only issue for Johnson during his rookie season.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

20. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    Never the fastest back in the NFL, Matt Forte has built his success on quickness and acceleration rather than relying on big plays. He doesn't appear to be slowing down at this later stage of his career, but Jeremy Langford's long speed added a dynamic to the offense that wasn't there with Forte on the field.

    Power

    16/25

    With a frame that is heavy but not with weight that works against him, Forte is able to beat defenders in different ways. He's not the type of back who will run through linebackers with only his power—using his quickness to get defenders off balance before lowering his shoulder is just as effective of an approach.

    Vision 

    24/25

    A back who has always played with great awareness whether working between the tackles or out in space on screen plays, Forte's ability to set up blocks before accelerating to space elevated his production behind a limited offensive line. His vision in space is what makes him such a dangerous back when working out of the backfield on passing plays.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Forte offers the Bears versatility and creativity as a receiving option. He can line up in the backfield or out wide to still be effective. The only thing that limited Forte's impact last season was his ability to catch the ball. He dropped too many passes despite his heavy workload.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    77/98

19. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Speed

    15/25

    It's clear that Arian Foster is slowing down. His health issues and his age (29) have become issues. However, while he has clearly slowed down, he's also still fast enough to be an effective NFL back. During his prime, Foster had such well-rounded quickness that losing a step from that peak means he is still a fast player overall.

    Power

    21/25

    Foster has never been a bulky back, but he has always been a powerful one. He uses his short-area explosiveness and sheer power to explode through potential tacklers. Stopping Foster in his tracks with just an arm tackle is difficult to do.

    Vision 

    22/25

    As he has done throughout his career, Foster showcased his outstanding awareness and vision in 2015. His ability to cut through holes that didn't appear to actually exist before he got through them made his offensive line better.

    Receiving

    12/15

    Even though he only played four games in 2015, Foster caught 22 passes. The Texans relied on his versatility in space to exploit the defense underneath. Foster caught a pass of 15-plus yards in every game he played.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    78/98

18. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Speed

    16/25

    The rumbling stylings of LeGarrette Blount don't lend themselves to great quickness or long speed, but the veteran does have an impressive burst for a back of his size. Blount relies on his burst and balanced footwork to pick his way between blocks.

    Power

    25/25

    Blount does most of his best work between the tackles. He isn't an explosive back in the sense that he will build up speed and explode through defenders, but he can overwhelm them with his sheer size and strength. This strength aids him because he doesn't have to build up momentum to break tackles or finish plays moving forward.

    Vision 

    23/25

    The Patriots used Blount to his strength: running power to wear defenses down between the tackles. He isn't just a battering ram, though. Blount shows off patience and awareness to let blocks develop in front of him before accelerating forward when he sees an opportunity.

    Receiving

    6/15

    Per Football Focus, Blount didn't drop a pass in 2015, and he matched his season high in receptions since 2012. The problem is he only caught six passes.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    78/98

17. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    Despite being in the twilight of his career, DeAngelo Williams didn't show any signs of decline in 2015. He admirably filled in for Le'Veon Bell, showing off quick feet, a short-area burst that allowed him to replicate Bell's patient running style and enough long speed to take advantage of the space he was given.

    Power

    16/25

    Williams has always been a powerful back. He combines a low center of gravity with a violent running style and bulky frame to fight through tackles. Williams doesn't need to build momentum to punish defenders because of his brute strength.

    Vision 

    24/25

    Williams has over 1,600 carries in his career and averages 4.8 yards per attempt. You don't average so many yards per carry over that length of time without being a smart back. Williams' intelligence won't fade as he ages, even if his athleticism does. With the Steelers, he consistently made smart decisions between the tackles and set up his blocks with his patience.

    Receiving

    11/15

    The passing game suffered without Bell, but not too much. Williams was consistent working out of the backfield and showed off some versatility in how he was used, even if he wasn't the matchup problem that Bell has been throughout his career.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    78/98

16. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    If there were a reason to think that LeSean McCoy was declining over the second half of his career, it wasn't obvious in his physical ability during the 2015 season. McCoy was one of the fastest backs in the NFL once again, showing off the same acceleration and long speed that had made him so productive in Philadelphia.

    Power

    16/25

    McCoy has never been a powerful back, and playing under Rex Ryan didn't change that. He remains an inconsistently aggressive runner, but he is built for speed rather than power with his slender frame.

    Vision 

    24/25

    Greg Roman's offense was different from Chip Kelly's. Roman gave McCoy opportunities to run outside, but he also ran behind a lead blocker more often on power designs. McCoy showed impressive discipline working between the tackles while maintaining his elusiveness and threat outside.

    Receiving

    10/15

    McCoy's effort and ability in pass protection were concerns in 2015, but his explosiveness and natural ball skills made him a big-play threat regardless of where he lined up on the field. McCoy is one of the most dangerous screen threats in the NFL.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    78/98

15. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    Devonta Freeman isn't the fastest back in the league, but his movement skills are hugely valuable because of how well-rounded they are. Freeman has above-average acceleration, quickness and long speed. He is completely comfortable running in Kyle Shanahan's scheme because he can stretch plays to either sideline and be decisive in cutting back across the field.

    Power

    16/25

    The main difference between Freeman in his second season from his rookie season was his ability at the point of contact. He was able to add bulk and power in 2015, using his low center of gravity to force his way through defenders and punish them at the tackle point. Freeman's violent running style meant that he consistently got the most out of that power.

    Vision 

    23/25

    In Shanahan's offense, the running back must be decisive and understand when to press plays to the outside and cut back infield. Freeman proved to be an outstanding fit, consistently getting the most out of his blocking. His quick-twitch athleticism allowed him to manipulate defenders in space when necessary.

    Receiving

    9/15

    Drops were somewhat of an issue for Freeman in 2015, but those were partially a result of his volume. The Falcons relied on him a lot as a receiver because of his well-rounded skill set. Freeman could be trusted to block for Matt Ryan effectively, and he lined up in different parts of the field as a receiver. 

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    78/98

14. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Speed

    24/25

    Last season, Latavius Murray was just the Raiders' athlete at running back—a guy who had a few big plays when he was finally given touches later in the year. Murray's limited exposure meant that he didn't get an opportunity to show off how explosive he really was. He doesn't just boast straight-line speed. Despite being a bigger back, he is also agile with the burst to get through the line of scrimmage.

    Power

    18/25

    Murray is a powerful back, and that is particularly true when he runs aggressively. He doesn't get his pad level low consistently, instead running too upright. But when he does lower his shoulder, he is able to deliver punishing blows.

    Vision 

    20/25

    Even though he is primarily known for his athleticism, Murray is a smart back. He doesn't force runs outside in search of big plays, and he understands when he needs to be patient instead of aggressive. Murray sees running lanes and cuts through them quickly.

    Receiving

    9/15

    Murray isn't a versatile receiving option. He's explosive and can catch the ball comfortably, but he had too many focus drops in 2015.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    79/98

13. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Speed

    21/25

    Andre Ellington was relegated to a reserve role by the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. In a role that didn’t wear down his body, he was able to impress. Ellington’s success has always been based on his speed, and it was no different in this situation. His short-area quickness and ability to change direction are among the best in the league.

    Power

    15/25

    Not a heavy back or a particularly powerful one, Ellington runs hard and relies on his pad level to impact defenders. He won’t ever lead the league in broken tackles, though.

    Vision 

    21/25

    Vision has been a problem for Ellington at times during previous seasons. He can be a creative back who uses his athleticism to set up blocks and manipulate defenders, but his consistency making routine decisions was poor. He still doesn’t excel at combining patience and aggression as a runner but did make better decisions in 2015.

    Receiving

    15/15

    A versatile receiver with big-play ability and reliable hands, Ellington has every attribute a star receiving back could want.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    80/98

12. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Speed

    17/25

    For such a powerful running back, Mark Ingram is a comfortable mover with enough wiggle to make defenders miss in tight holes. His burst was invaluable to the Saints in 2015, as he was able to quickly go from reading the defense to accelerating through a hole made by his offensive line.

    Power

    19/25

    Ingram’s athleticism isn’t about pure power; it’s about the combination of power and speed. He can break tackles with relative ease because of how he explodes through potential tacklers both in tight areas and in space.

    Vision 

    22/25

    Earlier in his career, Ingram struggled to create yardage when he didn’t have obvious running lanes. He is enjoying the peak of his career right now in terms of his vision. He consistently makes smart reads while possessing the ability to set up defenders who are already engaged by his blockers.

    Receiving

    14/15

    Ingram wasn’t supposed to be a big part of the receiving game in 2015, but C.J. Spiller’s struggles opened the door for him. Ingram was efficient catching the ball while showing off elusiveness after the catch to be dangerous in space.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    80/98

11. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

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    Mike McCarn/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    Jonathan Stewart didn't show off his long speed often in 2015, but his quickness and acceleration between the tackles were as good as ever. The veteran back was constantly being forced to adjust behind the line of scrimmage while relying on his footwork to pick his way through tight holes.

    Power

    20/25

    Stewart's play in 2015 wasn't fairly reflected by his production. He was breaking tackles with such ease on a regular basis because his power was overwhelming. It didn't matter if the running back was off balance and hit behind the line of scrimmage—he could maintain his balance and continue moving forward to still be productive.

    Vision 

    25/25

    In the Panthers offense, a large number of Stewart's carries didn't ask him to create yardage or make difficult reads. Cam Newton would make the reads for him, so Stewart either got the ball directed toward a specific running lane or the quarterback kept it and attacked a different area of the defense. When he was put in position to be creative or make smart decisions, Stewart proved more than capable.

    Receiving

    9/15

    The construction of the Panthers offense meant that Stewart wasn't a focal point in the passing game. He spent a lot of time as part of play fakes before being used as a pass protector instead of a receiver. When the ball was thrown in his direction, he had limited impact.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    81/98

10. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    Per NFL.com, rookie Thomas Rawls ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at his Central Michigan pro day, which gives him respectable speed for an NFL back. In pads, Rawls moves well and has the quickness to create space and the long speed to break off long runs.

    Power

    22/25

    Beast Mode Junior had a tremendous year running over, around and through NFL tacklers. Turn on the Week 11 game against the San Francisco 49ers and you’ll see Rawls breaking tackles left and right with his leg power and mean running style.

    Vision 

    22/25

    The transition from college to the NFL was surprisingly easy for Rawls in terms of vision. The Seattle offensive line didn’t dominate this year, but Rawls did a great job of picking his spots and finding openings up front.

    Receiving

    9/15

    This is an area to develop for the future. Rawls caught just nine passes while dropping two attempts this year, per Pro Football Focus. To fully replace Marshawn Lynch and Co. in the backfield, he has to become a reliable option in the Seattle passing game.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    83/98

9. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    C.J. Anderson failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing in 2015, but given the instability of the Denver Broncos offensive line and quarterbacks, his 720 yards on 152 carries was very good. Anderson has enough quickness to make defenders miss with his hips, and when he has space, he can run away for chunk plays.

    Power

    21/25

    Part of what makes Anderson so tough to tackle is his low center of gravity, and at 5’8” and 224 pounds, he can be difficult to wrap up. Anderson created 24 missed tackles on his 152 carries, per Pro Football Focus, and generally packed a solid punch when met by a defender.

    Vision 

    22/25

    Anderson deserves credit for transitioning from Adam Gase’s offense to new head coach Gary Kubiak’s this season. He did a great job of moving from a shotgun set to an offense that put him behind the quarterback most often, and he never let it affect his vision or aiming points. Anderson is a classic zone running back, and that showed as his vision improved when he was running stretch plays.

    Receiving

    12/15

    The Broncos have to find a way to get Anderson more involved as a receiver in 2016, and his 25 catches against two drops on 31 targets shows his potential as an outlet out of the backfield and as a weapon in the screen game.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    83/98

8. Chris Ivory, New York Jets

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    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    Speed

    19/25

    Chris Ivory isn’t going to run away from many defenders, but his short-yardage explosion is very good, and he wins most of his battles within five yards of his starting stance. With initial quickness and a powerful lower body, Ivory is fast enough to do damage with the ball in his hands.

    Power

    24/25

    The 6’0”, 222-pound Ivory has the power and mentality to run over defenders in the hole and in space. He’s a punishing runner and a bit of a throwback to the days of Barry Foster and Ron Dayne...but he’s productive consistently.

    Vision 

    22/25

    The Jets offensive line deserves credit for the holes it opened—especially on the left side—but Ivory also deserves a tip of the cap for his ability to find creases and pick up tough yards. He had a Frank Gore-like year in that he always fell forward and seemed to never lose yards between the tackles.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Ivory set career highs with 30 catches (on 34 targets) and 217 yards receiving. He did drop two passes thrown his way, though, and isn’t featured as a receiver in the Jets offense unless he has to be.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    83/98

7. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Speed

    20/25

    Doug Martin’s fourth season in the NFL was his second-best in terms of yards, but it was his most impressive and definitely his most unexpected. After posting just 500 yards rushing in 2014, Martin exploded for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns while accumulating a career-high 57 missed tackles created, per Pro Football Focus. Thank his ability to get to top speed while still in the backfield for his boost in production. Martin isn’t a speed demon in the long game, but he’s going to win most five-yard races thanks to his burst.

    Power

    21/25

    Don’t call him the Muscle Hamster, but know this—the Dougernaut has some pop to his game. Martin’s frame is short (5’9”) but powerful. He uses his body to run through defenders, but it’s his low center of gravity and aggressive, pissed-off running style that win yards after contact.

    Vision 

    24/25

    The Tampa Bay offensive line wasn’t great in 2015, but Martin consistently found rushing lanes anyway. He was excellent at putting the brakes on and cutting against the grain but also showed the second-level vision needed to cut away from linebackers and safeties.

    Receiving

    10/15

    Martin’s two drops weren’t a lot for him, and with 33 catches on 41 targets he had a good year as a receiver. But his route running and the small target he presents in the passing game were two areas that made him a less valuable receiver.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    83/98

6. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins

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    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    Speed

    24/25

    The speed in Lamar Miller’s game is a big reason he’s ranked inside the top 10. Miller can run away from defenders and turn the corner at full speed. He put it all together to average 4.5 yards per carry. His longest run of the year—an 85-yarder against Houston—showed that his ability to break away is as good as it was back in 2012 when he was a rookie out of Miami.

    Power

    16/25

    Miller has the size (5’10”, 225 lbs) to run over tacklers, but power isn’t his primary game. He’s not afraid to put a shoulder down and pick up tough yards, but he has more success using his hips and feet to make tacklers miss.

    Vision 

    24/25

    Let’s be honest—the Miami Dolphins did not use Miller as much as they should have. His speed and receiving skills should warrant 20 to 25 touches per game, and his vision in the open field produced yards and points when he had opportunities. Miller is a good one-cut runner, and he’s agile enough and has good enough vision to also be productive on stretch runs where he can find openings on the back side or behind the play.

    Receiving

    12/15

    Miller should be getting five or six targets per game as a receiver. He dropped just two of the 54 passes thrown his way in 2015—good for 397 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    84/98

5. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    Speed

    21/25

    There are breakaway runs from Marshawn Lynch—remember the BeastQuake run—but he doesn’t have the elite runaway speed of some smaller backs. Lynch is becoming more of a chain-mover as he approaches 30 years old, but he still packs a punch with his short-area burst and explosion.

    Power

    25/25

    Don’t stand on the tracks when the Lynch train is coming through. They don’t call this man Beast Mode for nothing. Lynch uses his 215 pounds to rock defenders, and he has the tenacity and mean streak to actually seek out contact. Few running backs do that. Even fewer of them run through defenders like Lynch does.

    Vision 

    25/25

    Lynch has the ability to find running lanes at full speed, but he has a great, underrated ability to cut and evade defenders in space once he breaks free from the second level. The long runs Lynch rips off are thanks to his vision and ability to read downfield blocks as much as his speed or power.

    Receiving

    8/15

    The Seattle offense doesn’t ask Lynch to be a receiver as much a Jamaal Charles or Le’Veon Bell, but his one drop and 15 catches in 2015 showed that his 2014 success (37 catches) wasn’t a fluke.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    87/98

4. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Speed

    25/25

    Good luck to all defenders tasked with catching Jamaal Charles in the open field. He has sprinter speed (no, really, he ran 100 meters in 10.18 seconds) and has the burst to crush the hopes and dreams of linebackers and defensive backs who hope to get an angle on him in the open field.

    Power

    16/25

    Charles doesn’t have the frame to square up and run over defenders, but at 5’11” and 199 pounds, he will break some tackles. His best weapon when meeting a defender is his speed, but he has a respectable stiff arm too.

    Vision 

    25/25

    The stretch-zone play was made for runners like Charles. He’s so good at taking the ball and running parallel to the offensive line while waiting for a tiny crease to open up. Once it does—boom—he’s gone. Charles is fantastic behind the line and in space when it comes to finding running room. His 5.5 yards-per-carry career average speaks to this.

    Receiving

    14/15

    Charles has emerged as one of the best and most reliable receiving backs in the game. In 2015, he grabbed 21 passes in five games and dropped just one of his 27 targets during that time, per Pro Football Focus.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    88/98

3. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    Le’Veon Bell only played in six games in 2015, but his presence was felt when he did line up in the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield. Bell has the speed to turn the corner and the burst to pick up yards in a hurry. He can bounce outside and run away from tacklers, but he also gets to his top speed at an elite rate.

    Power

    18/25

    He’s not the 244-pound back he used to be at Michigan State, but Bell still packs a punch when he meets defenders. He’s also good in short-yardage situations, thanks to excellent body lean and leg churning. Before his injury, Bell was averaging a career-best 3.4 yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus.

    Vision 

    25/25

    The elite trait that makes Bell so great is his vision. It’s rare to see a running back in today’s age of super-athletes on defense who is able to cut back against the grain and find rushing lanes. Bell can squeeze through tiny openings and come out on the other side ready to run over tacklers or break free for a long run.

    Receiving

    15/15

    Bell is one of the best receiving backs in the NFL—a modern-day Marshall Faulk if there is one. His 24 catches on 25 targets in just six games is a ridiculous accomplishment.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    88/98

2. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    As he worked back from a torn ACL that ended his college career prematurely, Todd Gurley wasn’t at 100 percent when he took the field for the St. Louis Rams. His speed did improve as the season wore on, though. By the end of the year, he was ripping off 49-yard runs against Detroit and 34-yard runs against Arizona.

    Power

    21/25

    At 6’1” and 227 pounds, Gurley has the body style to punish tacklers. He caused 42 missed tackles on just 229 carries this year (compared to Adrian Peterson's 50 on 327 carries), which shows his ability to break tackles and also cause defenders to miss in space.

    Vision 

    23/25

    There was some rust to knock off once Gurley took the field in Week 3, but he showed the inside-outside vision that made him such a phenomenal back at Georgia. By Week 16, he was cutting with ease and finding secondary rushing lanes. If he could improve one thing, it would be to not string as many runs out to the edge when the defense contains. Sometimes taking one yard is better than fighting and losing two.

    Receiving

    15/15

    Gurley showed his receiving ability right away, catching 21 of 26 passes thrown his way and recording no drops, according to Pro Football Focus. As Gurley plays more games, expect him to make a huge impact in the passing game.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    89/98

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Speed

    22/25

    Adrian Peterson isn’t the fastest running back in the NFL, but he has great get-up-and-go speed. He combines that with size, power and an upright running style that makes him a punisher with his shoulders. Peterson still has the speed to turn the corner on a defense, and he can rip off long runs when he has some daylight to work with.

    Power

    24/25

    Few running backs in the NFL can compete with Peterson’s power at the point of attack or his ability to explode into traffic. The only negative is that his desire to initiate contact resulted in seven fumbles in 2015.

    Vision 

    24/25

    Running behind an offensive line that lacked consistency all season, Peterson had to make the best of some poor situations. He did that by displaying vision on the move and behind the line of scrimmage. Once the Vikings offense shifted from the pistol spread system favored by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a more conventional single-back set, Peterson took off.

    Receiving

    12/15

    Peterson’s 30 catches (on 33 targets) were his most since 2012 and the fourth-most in his career. With just one drop on the year, he made the most of his chances in the receiving game.

    Positional Value

    8/8

    Overall

    90/98